Why Does Your Cat Chew Cords?
(and what to do to prevent it)
Most of us think of dogs as the excessive chewers of the pet world. Little did we know that cats can be just as destructive. A cat’s natural urge to chew can lead them to chomp on all sorts of things.
This includes dangerous things like electrical cords. Not only is it dangerous to your cat, but frayed electrical cords pose a risk to you as well as to the safety of your household.
There are a number of reasons why cats chew on cords.
Your cat could be bored or curious or managing its stress. Sometimes they just love the way it feels to chew on cords. Other times, there could be a medical reason. Also, if your cat is still in the kitten stage, it may want to relieve some of the discomforts of teething by chewing on something the closest thing might just be an electrical cord.
Photo: Alvan Nee/Unsplash
If you have a cat who chews on electrical cords, keep reading. We will look at why they do it and what you can do to prevent disaster.
Why do they do it?
Chewing isn’t an inherently harmful behavior. Biting and chewing are some of the ways that cats explore their environment. If you have a cat, you have probably noticed them biting or chewing on many things other than wires (including you). Kittens especially will chew on just about anything.
If your cat has a passion for chewing, it is a good idea to keep chew toys handy. Offer toys that allow them to use their hunting instincts. For example, a fake mouse to chase or a bird that squeaks.
Luckily, most cats will stop chewing on wires and other items as they get older and find different ways to explore.
Cleaning Its Teeth
Your cat might be following an instinct to clean its teeth.
Cats in captivity have a high rate of dental decay, and studies suggest that between 50% and 90% of cats over four years old suffer from some form of dental problem.
Biting into items around the home like cardboard can help scrub away tarter, slowing the progression of these dental problems. Wires would also be useful for this task as they would act as natural floss.
Cats get bored!
Make an effort to play with your cat on a regular basis. Find ways to get them to engage in interactive play daily.
Photo: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos/Unsplash
One of the primary reasons that cats turn to entertain themselves by chewing is that they’re not getting enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day.
- Make sure to break up your cat’s day with multiple short play sessions to keep them active.
- Keep Playtime Fresh and Exciting
- Change their toys up.
- Different foods, toys, and games rotated daily can keep your cat interested.
- Put scratching posts in easy to reach areas that entice your cat to use them.
If your cat isn’t getting the nutrients it needs through its diet they might turn to chewing. Cats are carnivores that require a diet high in animal protein and low in plant-based carbohydrates.
If your cat doesn’t get enough animal protein, it might start to eat wires and other items in an attempt to seek out those nutrients elsewhere and will begin to chew on various things, including wires and wood.
Another reason your cat might be eating wires is that it could be stressed out. Chewing items like wire and wood often occur when the cat is experiencing anxiety from a change in routine or a new pet or child added to the family.
What To Do About It
Wait It Out
If your cat is still a kitten there is a good chance it will outgrow the chewing phase in a few months. Keep offering other, safer chewing options and be patient.
Even low-quality foods should provide adequate nutrition to prevent any deficiencies, so unless you’ve just rescued the cat, it’s not likely to be an issue. If you have a rescue, it might not have eaten properly for some time, and deficiencies can develop. These cats will require high-quality food with real meat like chicken or turkey listed as the first ingredient.
Photo: Bogdan Farca/Unsplash
Boredom is frequent in cats, so we recommend setting aside one or two 20-minute sessions each day to help your cat be more active and get rid of excess energy, which will help reduce boredom.
We also recommend paying attention to any stressors that might be causing anxiety for your pet. Loud noises, other cats, barking dogs, aggressive children, and yelling are all examples of things that can cause your pet to start chewing on wires, and eliminating them can help you prevent it.
Add Aluminum Foil
One way to prevent chewing is to wrap your wires in aluminum foil. Cats don’t like aluminum foil and will usually avoid it, so wrapping your wires in it can be a great way to prevent your cats from chewing them.
The downside to foil, of course, is that it can look unsightly on exposed wires.
Another option (although it is the more expensive solution) is to use wire covers. Wire covers keep all of your wires contained, so they look neater, and they also provide a layer of protection against the cat.
Unfortunately, they won’t do much to deter the cat from chewing on them, so you might need to replace them frequently.
Visit the Vet
Keeping up with regular physical exams is crucial to staying on top of your cat’s health.
If excessive chewing has become an issue, then it is probably a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian. There could be a medical reason for the behavior.. It is a good idea for the doctor to examine your kitty and rule out any medical cause.
Signs of Problems From Chewing on Cords
If you have a known feline chewer, be on the lookout for signs of shock. Being shocked by cord chewing can lead to heart or lung damage. Cats under two years old are most likely to end up with electrical burns.
If your cat has been chewing cords, look for the following signs:
- Burns in and around the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite or refusal to eat
- Decreased energy
- Difficulty breathing
If you notice any of these signs you should call your vet.
Fortunately, most cats outgrow chewing on electrical cords as they become adults, but some will continue the behavior, and you will need to take more drastic measures. We’ve found that aluminum foil works best and after a few weeks, the cats seem to forget about the wires, and we could remove them.