Want Christmas lights. Cats chew through wires, cords, and cables. Help!
December 1, 2019 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I would love to put Christmas-y lights around my windows for December. Unfortunately, one of my cats will chew through any and all plastic-coated wires and cables unless they're simply too thick to get her jaws around. I'm not picky--All-white or multi-colored or several different colors, blinking or steady--it's all good. How we currently protect wires in the house under the cut.

Any wires we have to run (cables from the computer to the monitor or hard drives, power cords for lamps, etc) is encased in ugly black corrugated tubing. We don't mind, since it's usually behind a desk or some other piece of furniture. If we could find strands of holiday lights that have eight feet of just power cord at one end, we could wrap the lights around the horizontal curtain rods our cats can't reach, and then run the protected cable down to the outlet.

If anyone has cats who chew wires who has successfully decorated with holiday lights, I'm most interested in how you did it!
posted by tzikeh to Grab Bag (25 answers total)
I'm afraid that this question is impossible to answer without seeing a photo of the culprit.
posted by hydra77 at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2019 [10 favorites]

Use an extension cord and tape it to the wall with extra wide blue painter's tape, right down to the outlet.

Alternatively, get clip on mini LED lights and skip the cords entirely. You can get them cheap in bulk online. If you cant find clip on ones, just get 'throwies' (a tiny led and a battery all in one) and hot glue a clip or bobby pin to it. More work, yes, but you'll never have to untangle light strings ever again, or toss a strand bc one bulb blew.
posted by ananci at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

So sorry I forgot the cat tax!

The villain in question.

Her sister, who chews on fabric, not cables.
posted by tzikeh at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

This garland looked like a great option, but it's sold out. If anyone knows something else like this, I'd much appreciate any links.
posted by tzikeh at 2:06 PM on December 1, 2019

I'd think Hammacher-Schlemmer meant it's almost certainly available from some Chinese supplier, but I can't find it. There are, however, lots of battery-powered fairy light options if the goal is just keeping everything more than x number of feet up the wall.
posted by rhizome at 2:37 PM on December 1, 2019


Definitely cheaper/easier than my initial idea of installing another outlet at the appropriate height above the current one.
posted by teremala at 2:55 PM on December 1, 2019

Ack, no, despite all of the suggested uses being inconvenient locations, that gives "electrical" as its power source, sorry.
posted by teremala at 2:57 PM on December 1, 2019

I searched Home Depot for "battery garland" and had over 100 hits. Maybe something you can use?

Amazon has a white version of the wire tubing here.
posted by Marky at 3:19 PM on December 1, 2019

Battery-powered copper fairy lights are pretty cheap and look really nice, like these. You can also get something like this and put a shorter string of copper lights inside. Add some other decorative stuff and it can be a table centrepiece, or for ambiance put it up on a shelf that they can't reach.
posted by 100kb at 3:31 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's a product called cable molding or raceway that is available if you don't find anything else.
posted by mightshould at 3:32 PM on December 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had a cat who did this with phone cables. We took tabasco sauce, diluted it down, and painted it onto the cables. Cat nibbled exactly ONE more cable and the habit was broken. It is possible your cat is equally averse to hot sauce.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 4:15 PM on December 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Have you considered using a laser-projector style of lighting? There are several brands that project a star field or other pattern from a single light source, and there are indoor and outdoor versions. It wouldn't be able to do window outlines, specifically, but it's an easy way to get a lot of coverage without many wires.
posted by geezlouise at 5:46 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's a product called cable molding or raceway that is available if you don't find anything else.

We'd have to cut that up into a million pieces and put it around each tiny length of wire between every light. I'd like to find something complete - a length of lights I can run around my windows that she won't chew on.
posted by tzikeh at 5:59 PM on December 1, 2019

If we could find strands of holiday lights that have eight feet of just power cord at one end, ...

Have you considered just purchasing an 8 foot extension cord and plugging the lights into that?
posted by yuwtze at 6:09 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding a spicy fluid coating, or bitter apple.

They Forest Service mixes capsaicin into paint for buildings that marmots and other critters like to chew on.
posted by nickggully at 9:48 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cute cats!

When mightshould suggested white molding/raceway, I thought they meant a long piece of it secured vertically next to the window: Lights safely looped on the curtain rods, with the rest of the length of wire (sans bulbs) dropped down the tubing on the way to the outlet. (I was thinking of this threading scheme, only using 2" diameter white pvc pipe, not molding.)

Battery-powered holiday string lights, a few options, some with garlands; same, at Wayfair; another pre-lit, cordless garland (other big-box options); for styles more like your Hammacher-Schlemmer link, see these other catalogs.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:57 PM on December 1, 2019

If you were to wrap the cord in metallic tape, maybe that would change the texture enough that the cat wouldn’t like it anymore. Also, extra festive.
posted by lakeroon at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

2nding metallic tape or aluminum foil wrap around your wires. Cloth ribbon/wired curly ribbon might also help. It's the plastic sheathing that my guys are after. So anything "not-gummy chewy fun" often works. You could also wind your lights through faux garland/pine boughs to make it less obviously fun to chew.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2019

You could also use tape or thread to affix tinsel garland along any wires for more festive cat repellent.
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on December 2, 2019

This might be counterintuitive, but what about rope lights? The larger diameter ones are a half-inch; maybe it'd be too large to make for good chewing.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:30 PM on December 2, 2019

Grannick's Bitter Apple. Some pets don't seem deterred by it, but our 5 have all been. Please ignore the reviews on Amazon about the fact that it contains isopropyl alcohol. While that is not safe for pets to drink, it evaporates almost instantly, leaving the non-toxic active ingredients behind.
posted by wnissen at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I appreciate all of the advice regarding spicing up the wires, but that would take *forever* with strings of holiday lights, where the encased wiring comes in tiny sections between each bulb.

Putting an extension cord up the wall is good for lights that are too high to reach, but not a solution for outlining my windows with lights, as the cats sit on the windowsills all the time.

Re: tinsel garland - she would likely chew on that too.
posted by tzikeh at 7:10 PM on December 2, 2019

I'd use a two piece surface raceway (Wiremold is the common manufacturer here in Canada though I'm sure a similiar product exists in the US) with a rigid cover. It's pretty soft PVC; you can use a regular hand held hole punch to put holes in the cover. Just punch a series of holes slightly closer together than the spacing of the bulbs and then stick the bulbs through the holes and finally snap the cover onto the installed channel.

Or if your lights are bigger than a hole punch you can use a drill.

I'd only do this with LED lights; incandescent lights might get hot enough to melt the raceway.

You can also get self adhesive surface mount LED lights. Kind of light rope lights but with a flat profile so you can stick it to things. They are available in both white and R-G-B often with chase patterns or flashing or dozens of other patterns. Most are in a clear flexible PVC your cat might chew on in which case they make specialty extrusions to mount them in but really all you'd need would be a clear acrylic u channel to protect it.
posted by Mitheral at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2019

Thought about your question and these answers as I was putting up my own decorations last night. No cats, but neither roommate nor I liked the way the end of the light string dangled/trailed until reaching the outlet. Here, it's not windows we're outlining but a set of patio doors with layered curtains (sheers, then drapes) on double rods; seeing the lights wasn't easy, either.

On the to-do list: picking up removable 3M Command hooks to drape the lights across, extending the line to the point where the wire will drop behind a bookcase to be plugged in. In suspending the lights slightly above [these doors/your windows] instead of winding the wires around the rods, the decorations won't interfere with adjusting the curtains.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2019

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