How to Stop Your Cat From Chewing Electrical Cords

We love how playful and curious cats are, but those traits can also pose serious risks to their safety. One behavior is particularly worrisome, and that’s when cats chew on electrical cords.
Understanding the Behavior
Pain relief. With kittens, the reason may be due to teething discomfort. With older cats it could be to relieve pain from various dental issues such as periodontal disease.
Boredom. If there isn’t enough stimulation in the environment, cats may chew on electrical cords just as an activity to relieve boredom.
Stress. When there’s a stress overload, cats may rely on displacement behaviors such as over-grooming, licking things in the environment or chewing on objects. Chewing on the rubbery texture of a cord may be a way to self soothe.
Play. What may initially start out as batting at a dangling cord can transition into biting at it. The ease of the cord’s movement as well as the texture may mimic prey enough to be an enticing target.
Pica. This is the term used to describe chewing on non-food items. Some cats may chew on clothing, hair ties, shoelaces, or other items around the house. Chewing on electrical cords is also common. Pica may be due to nutritional deficiencies, but in many cases it’s the result of stress or boredom. Pica, and especially wool chewing, is frequently seen in certain breeds, such as Burmese and Siamese.

Signs That Your Cat Has Been Chewing Electrical Cords Can Include:

Excessive drooling
Burns in or around the mouth
Breathing difficulty
Singed whiskers
Lack of appetite
Chewing on electrical cords can lead to electrocution

Preventing Cats from Chewing on Electrical Cords
Address health issues. Have your cat examined by the veterinarian to check for any dental issues, or other health concerns that could be the cause of the chewing. Your veterinarian may recommend a change in your cat’s food, an increase in fiber, or advise the addition of dental treats. If the problem is periodontal disease, your veterinarian will recommend a cleaning. If the behavior is due to stress, identify the underlying cause so you can work on a behavior plan. If you need help, your veterinarian can give you a referral to a veterinary behaviorist or certified cat behavior consultant.

Secure cords. Reduce temptation by securing cords properly. Use cord containment devices, clips, and cord organizers to keep them hidden and out of reach. You can find many variations for cord containment at your local office supply store, home improvement store, and online. There are many types of flexible cord protection sleeves that can fit around a single cord or you can combine several cables into one neat, flexible tube. These sleeves come in various materials, such as rubber, plastic, or fabric. You can even run cords through PVC pipe by slicing it lengthwise and fitting the cable through. Replace any damaged cords. If a cord can’t be easily replaced, contact a qualified professional.
Use deterrents. Apply a bitter tasting product to discourage chewing. You can find bitter tasting deterrents in your local pet supply store and online. Be sure any bitter deterrent you use is safe for cats. Use disposable gloves when applying the product and reapply regularly, or according to the product’s directions. Keep in mind that there are some hard-core feline munchers who will endure the foul taste of the deterrent to continue their obsession with gnawing on the cords. If possible, use the cord containment method as your primary safety method.
Create safe charging areas. For cordless electronics that must be charged with a cord, encase the charging cables in flexible protection sleeves or set up charging locations in areas where your cat doesn’t have access. If you are charging a device in your cat’s vicinity, secure the cable so it isn’t dangling, and tuck it away where your cat can’t see it.
Play with your cat. Engage in interactive play sessions with your cat at least twice a day. Whether the cord chewing behavior is due to boredom or anxiety, this release of energy will be beneficial. Use a fishing pole type toy so you can mimic the movements of prey and let your cat have plenty of successful captures. Each game should last at about 15 minutes. Be consistent in your playtime schedule.
Provide safe and engaging solo toys. Set out toys that can’t be chewed up and place them in interesting locations for your cat to discover during the day. There are also dental cat chew toys available. Check with your veterinarian if you have questions on which chew toys would be most appropriate for your cat. Puzzle feeders are another option. Look online and you’ll find many different types of puzzle feeders where your cat can get a food reward for manipulating or moving the toy in a certain way. If your cat chews the electrical cords due to liking the rubbery texture, try some small rubber puppy chew toys.
Improve your cat’s environment. Create an environment that is stimulating, comforting, and secure. Provide a cat tree so your cat can look out the window and enjoy the outdoor entertainment. Use pheromone diffusers to help alleviate stress. Doublecheck that the litter box set-up is comfortable and convenient and that you’re keeping it clean. Ensure mealtime is stress-free (especially if you have a multipet household). Does your cat have appealing places to scratch? If not, purchase a tall, sturdy scratching post that’s covered in sisal. If your cat likes horizontal scratching, scatter a few corrugated cardboard scratching pads around.

Holiday safety. Secure lights on the Christmas tree so they don’t dangle enticingly. Coat the cords with a bitter deterrent. Don’t put the lights on the twinkling setting so they won’t be as appealing to a playful cat. Secure the end of the cord in a protective sleeve or PVC pipe.
Grow kitty greens. Grow a container of safe cat greens to give your cat a chewing alternative. You can find kitty greens kits at your local pet supply store and online.
Keeping a cord-chewing cat away from that behavior will require ongoing supervision, being proactive with safeguards, and using positive, effective training and appealing alternatives.
Need More Information?
If you have questions about your cat’s health or are concerned about electrical cord chewing, contact your veterinarian. This article is not meant to replace your cat’s personal veterinary care and is not intended as a medical diagnosis. This article is for general information purposes only.
For information on cat behavior and training, refer to the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Pam’s books are available at bookstores and online. We’ve included links to Amazon here on our website.

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