Need some advice about our kitty chewer.
December 20, 2010 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Need some advice about our kitty chewer.

One of our cats (the tuxedo one) has developed a habit of chewing things. Lately it's cords he likes to chew but he's also into plastic, and other random things. We are pretty good about not leaving plastics around for him to get at because he does actually eat it (and then toss is up). Otherwise is a very healthy, active and happy cat.

We would like to find him a toy or make him something that is OK to chew so that he doesn't continue to wreck our stuff. Does something like this exist? Is it even a good idea? How would we indicate to him that he can chew this thing but nothing else? Or should we just continue with spraying him when we catch him chewing something?
posted by sadtomato to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've found with ours that redirection doesn't work because they are stubborn little buggers. We have taken to spraying the offending item with Nature's Miracle and that usually works. Of course, the chew toy of choice is the fake pine needles on the Christmas tree which are really hard to cover effectively with a spray. YMMV.
posted by Leezie at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2010

(be careful about the pine needles; no first-hand experience, but recently read that pine needles can puncture intestines! Perhaps these are more blunted, bendy, or less of a danger somehow, though; I don't want to be all Chicken Little!)
posted by taz at 8:40 AM on December 20, 2010

I too live with a tuxedo cat that loves chewing on cords. Multiple HDMI cables were lost to the ravenous little beast. We tried the spray products that are supposed to smell bad and keep them away but they never worked.

Eventually we noticed that she would only chew on new cords and would ignore anything that had been in the house long enough. Maybe you cat has a similar preference. Look for a pattern in what stuff she chews and doesn't and keep the chewable cords away from it.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:42 AM on December 20, 2010

My sisters set out things the tuxedo cat likes better. She seems to enjoy crunchy plastic and very large pieces of paper, and will love anything on the ottoman to shreds: she thus gets crunchy newsprint on the ottoman. You still can't leave homework lying around when you aren't there, but this keeps her off of stuff while you're working with her around. She also has a fondness for my mother's (severely abused now) dwarf lemon tree.

If she were into cords, I'd be running them through rubber or PVC tubing, myself. She only needs five minutes to ruin something and hurt herself, and you need six to eight hours of sleep each night.
posted by SMPA at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2010

We got some bitter apple spray. Cats don't like the taste of it - we put it on the cords she chewed most often, and soon she got tired of it and (mostly) stopped.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2010

There's a product called Boundary that comes in a pink bottle and works miracles. Unlike bitter apple spray, it isn't sticky and it doesn't require them chewing on it to actually work. Cats just hate the smell. Note: it smells when you first spray it but dissipates quickly, though it keeps the cats away for several weeks before you need to spray again.

My cats run away when they even see the bottle now.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:34 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

When our chew boy was alive we spent a lot on wire loom, as sprays and misdirection never worked for us.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2010

I also had a tuxedo cat who was a chewer. Wonder if the chewiness comes with the coat color (kinda like being a wild child comes with being calico).

I posted this thread asking about alternatives for her. I think the drinking straw idea was the best thing I got from it--YMMV.

Also, afterwards a friend gave me some of these and Mali did seem to enjoy chewing them.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think when a cat adopts a new behavior, particularly one that's troublesome, it's worth investigating the cause. Perhaps your cat needs a dental examination. Some cats start chewing when they have gingivitis, a bad tooth, or other irritation. Cats need dentistry too! They can build up almost unbelievable chunks of plaque that the vet can chip off with a fingernail, and sometimes these can irritate the gums.
posted by ViolaGrinder at 10:17 AM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: We have used bitter apple in the past with good results before-- don't know why I didn't think of it before. I will coat the cords today.

But the problem is not just the cords. He'll go for the weirdest stuff. The other night he chewed these long magnets I use to keep knitting charts in place. I can't spray bitter apple on everything in the house.

SMPA: I like the idea of giving him something he likes better but the problem is his chew toys of choice are things like bits of plastic, grocery bags, and ribbon. All things we do our best to keep away from him because he could really mess his insides up.
posted by sadtomato at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2010

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