Cat cord chewing.
January 9, 2013 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I need solutions for a cat that chomps cords. We have tried: Bitters spray Bitters gel Covering the cords with fabric bias tape then, putting bitters on them. and Hiding cords, he still gets to them He's even chomping think cords, like serge protectors that plug into the wall. I've seen those cat cord protectors, but all the reviews say they're garbage. He does this mostly when were not home. Is there an appropriate thing to give a cat to chew on? (like with dogs)
posted by misformiche to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We went through this when our cats were kittens. We were very aggressive with the spray bottle and now they don't mess with the cords.

Some folks will say that when your cat gets an electrical jolt, that it will stop him from making a snack of the cords. My concern is that it could just stop him completely.

Nylabone (maker of the ham-scented dog bone-It's as fresh as summer ham!) make chew toys.

I'd also take the cat to the vet to see if there's a reason he's so into nomming cords. Perhaps he has Pica and is deficient in something and thus is trying to get it by chewing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2013

Our cat eats strings, plastic bags, small cords, etc, and there's only one thing we've found that has helped: grass.

Seriously. At the grocery store we buy little pots of cat grass (not our kitty) that he munches on (and frequently vomits back up; oh well). When he has grass, he largely ignores the other things. We always know when his grass has died or has become unpalatable with age because he starts eyeing non-food with nom-nom eyes.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have a cat that's a chewer. She nibbled through some USB cords when I first got her, but has now apparently decided that the taste or texture of cords and cables pales in comparison to that of shoes. She now chews on pretty much anything leather (shoes, and ottoman, etc.) and some kinds of rubber (cheap Keds knockoffs, heels of running shoes). While this is kind of a nightmare for my shoe budget, it is miles preferable to having to wonder if she's going to electrocute herself. Unfortunately, I didn't do anything to help her make that transition. (If I had I'd know how to get her to STOP.) But you might try a cheap pair of flip flops and see if you can get her nomming on those instead of cords. I've never found a dog toy that has been the right texture that my cat likes to chew. They all seem like the rubber is too hard.

I'm definitely going to watch this question for more helpful suggestions, though.
posted by MsMolly at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2013

Cheaper than buying pots of cat grass: Buy raw wheat berries from the bulk bins and plant in pots yourself. I do this in succession, planting one new pot a week so my grass obsessed cat always has greens.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

How old is your cat? He may have a bad tooth that's causing the behavior. We had a cord chewer once, and it turned out he had a rotten tooth that he was basically trying to self-extract. A cleaning and an extraction resulted in no more inappropriate chewing. A trip to the vet is in order.
posted by jesourie at 11:10 AM on January 9, 2013

Response by poster: He has cat grass, which he largely doesnt care about.

He comps cardboard and tinfoil and plays with tape balls as well.

He's a bit over a year old.
posted by misformiche at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2013

Wrap your cords with clear packaging tape, with the sticky side out. Cats don't like sticky things. It's a bit tricky to do and it looks ugly (especially when the tape picks up cat hair), but maybe you'll only need to do it a couple of times.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:32 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had to actually tape cords to walls and floors, with tape completely covering the cord, in order to get a cat to stop chewing them. There was nothing left to chew when I was done with that those rolls of colored tape.

It sort of looked like this, but we didn't ever do it over carpet, and we covered the whole cord. So, when it went across the floor, we covered it in brown tape that closely matched our pergo. (I know, so bad for the wood, but better than a fried cat.) We put throw rugs over the taped floor areas often. For walls, I took an unobtrusive off-white roll of tape to the hardware store and they color-matched it. We painted the walls, then taped up the cords with the matching tape.

This ended up being successful because there was truly nowhere for the cat to get ahold of a cord. They became part of the walls and floors. Exasperating, but hey, the cat lived for 19 years, so we did something right.
posted by juniperesque at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2013

Response by poster: He chews on tape, in other circumstances.

I'm thinking some flexible tubing.

and mounting something like tissue boxes on hinges to the wall to hide the serge protectors, but still leave access to it for us humans.
posted by misformiche at 11:42 AM on January 9, 2013

My partner and I got this when our cat went through a period chewing cords, but he stopped on his own so we never had to use it.

I'm pretty sure we still have it -- if you'd memail me your address, I'd be happy to send it to you!
posted by amarynth at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2013

To bunny-proof some cords we used thick aquarium vacuum tubing that I had on hand. Cut a slit, put over cord and the slit pretty much closes up (maybe add a strip of electrical tape if it seems loose).
posted by mikepop at 11:55 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wrap your cords with clear packaging tape, with the sticky side out.

I was going to say masking tape, but this was my idea. You said he chews tape, but does he chew it on the roll or when stuck down? I've yet to encounter a dog or cat who liked the sticky feel of the tacky side of the tape.

Barring that, maybe you need cord protectors which are too big to be convenient. Ikea sells cord hiding corrugated plastic stuff. It's about 1.25 inches around, which is kinda big for a cat to conveniently get into his mouth. He might still go after some aspects of it but it's cheaper to replace than the electronic items themselves (to say nothing of electrocuted kitty).
posted by phearlez at 12:02 PM on January 9, 2013

For some cats this is a teething thing when they are young. For some, it is not. I had a plastic-licking wire-chewing cat (mice cords, phone cords, modem cords, electrical wiring of all stripes), and he didn't outgrow it until he was around 15 years old, and was suddenly too old to be bothered. He was responsible for me going to wireless-everything before about 99% of the country, because he was costing me so much in replacing electronics. He once ate a lamp cord. I never figured out how he never got a shock.

My tactics were extreme. For the really expensive stuff I just couldn't afford to lose (TV cords, computer, etc), I went to hardware stores, and got the kind of flexible metal tubing that you can run stuff inside. (Stuff that looked like this). Putting wires inside plastic tubing just made them more tempting, because it was plastic. For the stuff that was more transient, I went with aluminum foil. No amount of bitter spray, or my attempt at tabasco-ing up wires, ever helped.
posted by instead of three wishes at 12:09 PM on January 9, 2013

A single application of an insanely hot hot-sauce, allowed to dry, should permanently curb that behavior. Pick a "favorite" cord.

It has to be really hot - not merely for the deterrent factor, but because lower-"proof" sauces often have aromatics like onion or garlic that will tip off the kitty.

One 10-minute pain session will save the kitten death or disability. It's worth it.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:54 PM on January 9, 2013

This kind of cable cover might help if the plastic on it isn't too tempting in and of itself.
posted by analog at 5:26 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding three wishes on the aluminum foil, it appears to have curbed our cat's interest completely.
posted by doubleozaphod at 5:53 AM on January 12, 2013

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