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Why Does My Cat Chew Electrical Cords?

Reviewed by Dr. Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC on Thursday, August 27, 2015
Posted August 27, 2015 in Cat Behavior

A dangerous household item cats often chew is electrical cord and wire. As with plastic bags, cats can find the oral sensation of chewing on cords pleasant. Kittens in particular can chew cords as part of their exploratory development. Chewing on cords is a dangerous activity that should be actively prevented as it presents a choking hazard, as well as the possibility of injury and death from electrocution. It also can obviously damage your household electronics and cause electrical fires.

What’s so great about chewing cords?
Cat chewing a cordOne reason that cats will chew cords can be related to their dental health, and if you find your cat engaging in these activities, a trip to the veterinarian to make sure her teeth are in good order is important. You may also want to discuss with your veterinarian your cat’s diet, as chewing on odd objects can be a symptom of insufficiency in daily dietary needs. Finally, boredom can be a major factor in habits like these. You should adopt a plan combining management (to keep your cat safe) and enrichment (to engage physical and mental needs).

Tips to keep your cat from chewing cords.

  • Consider wrapping cords in rubber covers that can be purchased at most stores that sell electrical and home repair supplies. Putting the cords inside PVC tubing is also an option. You can also rub them with a citrus scent, which cats dislike and will avoid.

  • Providing your cats with enrichment will play a big role in dissuading them from chewing inappropriate items. Miranda K. Workman, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and Adjunct Professor of Animal Learning at Canisius College, communicated to me, “Addressing a cat’s sensory needs: smell, taste, texture and sound.” If your cat likes chewing on cords, find items in your local pet store that approximate those sensations, such as rubber chew toys. Look for items that are different from these as well, so your cats are able to enjoy a wide variety of textures and sounds when they chew and play. Says Workman, “I even use puppy Nylabones® as chew toys for very orally focused cats.”
  • Increase your daily play with your cat as well, which can help tire your cat out both physically and mentally. Look for toys that require you to be engaged with the play, such as “fishing wand” type
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Mychelle has more than 13 years of experience in the pet health industry and is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant as well as a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2014.