When cats start chewing on non-food items in the house it can be annoyingly destructive, but also dangerous for the cat. In my experience cats go straight for those expensive Apple computer and iPhone cords. I’m not sure I can count how many of these I’ve replaced in the 6 years I’ve had my two cats. If your cat suddenly starts chewing on non-food items you’ll first want to take them to your vet to make sure there aren’t any deficiencies in your cat’s diet that might cause them to seek out these other items.
Once you’ve ruled out biological causes for the chewing, you can focus on the behavioural reasons your cat might be chewing. Your cat may be bored, and enriching their environment with new toys or new types of toys might give them something else to focus on. We often associate chewing behaviour with dogs, however some cats just like to chew! For cats such as these you can try some different chew-specific items. Some cats like to chew on straws and some will even chew on specially designed cat chew toys. My cat, Bolivar, absolutely LOVES PetStages Orkakat mice. These small orange mice are infused with catnip to attract your cat and can even be filled with more catnip or treats. Try out some different options and see what your cat likes best. As always, please monitor your cat when they are using toys or chew toys. Some of these products (like the PetStages mice) break down over time. You want to make sure your cat isn’t ingesting pieces of the toys.
Your cat might also be seeking some variety in their diet. Providing your cat with something else to chew, such as buying cat grass or providing cat friendly “people food” is a great way to add novelty to a traditional diet of wet or dry food. Try making some diy cat treats like these at home. Or give your cat one of these “people foods” that are also safe for cats to eat.
Finally, you may also want to proactively protect the items that your cat has been chewing. I’ve found that spraying the cords or items with a bitter apple spray (often found in the dog section of your local pet store) or applying a bit of cayenne pepper to the cords will deter most cats after a lick or two. I’ve successfully used bitter apple spray not just on cords, but on plastic bags that my cat Andes finds irresistible when she is hungry.
Do you have a tip for keeping chewy cats happy? Share with us in the comments section!
Jenna Cheal, Ph.D. is an experimental psychologist who loves cats and analyzing cat behaviour. She uses her extensive background in understanding the causes of behaviour to provide simple solutions to a range of cat behaviour issues. Jenna (aka The Cat Psychologist) lives in Toronto, Ontario with her partner and two best cat-friends, Andes and Bolivar.