Attack of the fanged wool chewers!
August 2, 2007 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Please help me defend my kids' teddy bears from the atrocities of the deranged Siamese!

I have two cats. They are 3 and 4 years old. One's a Siamese and one's an Oriental Shorthair. They are normally fairly well-behaved with an occasional feline lapse of control in which they attack and systematically chew apart assorted members of my kids' stuffed animal menagerie. Last night my older daughter's two favorite plushies were brutally mangled in the night. There is discord in the house today. Please let me know your suggestions for weaning my brutal teddy killers off their prey.

I have read various vet pages which say:
- Siamese and their ilk are more prone to this behavior
- The suggested solution is to put the prone-to-chewing items out of cat reach, but this isn't addressing the root of the problem
- Some vets suggest medication, but this is only an occasional problem (once a month or so) and I'd rather not have to medicate the cats just for this

If you have addressed this problem, what has worked (or not worked) for you? I'm considering testing bitter apple spray on the plushies, but I'm also concerned that this will drive the felines to other chew toys, like sheets or clothing. The cats were much worse when they were younger (at one point we found a huge plushie stash under the bed where they had hidden their victims), but we've lost a couple of valued stuffed animals, gloves, and bathrobes this year.

(Bonus question - got tips on repairing holes in stuffed animals?)
posted by Addlepated to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about abuse specific toys? Introduce plushies to your kids and tell them they're for the cats. Let the cats abuse those.

AKA: cat toys.

(spiking with nip might help the cats figure out which are theirs)
posted by Toekneesan at 7:09 PM on August 2, 2007

Siamese are powerful and treacherous in their eternal hunt for the delicious insides of stuffed animals.

The best you are going to be able to do is get them toys that are more fun for them to play with, as Toekneesan suggests catnip is a favorite. If they have something made for them, they will hopefully stop being so interested in the kids toys.

Try to make sure that the children's toys are kept separate from the cat area to ensure they don't get any catnip on them, and if you happen to catch them stalking the toys (and yes, they will stalk them) a spray bottle full of water will usually do the trick. A couple of cold wet hits will usually encourage them to find easier targets.

As to fixing the toys, cotton thread? You can pick up stuffing materials in any craft store. If large bits of the skin are missing, check a cloth store for something that matches and try to patch from there.
posted by quin at 7:33 PM on August 2, 2007

I realise all cat questions get "Get Feliway!" in the answers at some point, but... Get Feliway!

It doesn't smell like anything to people or do anything unpleasant to fabrics; lightly spritzing the teddies won't hurt them, and I'm really inclined to think it'll keep the cats away. Favoured scratching sofas here turned into claws-free zones overnight when Feliway'ed.

The obvious corollary would be to spray some cat toys with a catnip spray. We have the Cosmic brand; it doesn't excite them like the real stuff, but it definitely marks what it's sprayed on as something requiring cat attention. Ours are only interested in toys made from real fur; maybe see if the more realistic sort of fake mice are more attractive than teddy bears?
posted by kmennie at 11:42 PM on August 2, 2007

You can't change cats. Your daughter needs to shoo the felines out at bedtime and shut her door tight, keeping the stuffed critters safe with her. (I lived with a wool-eating Siamese for 10 years. We ended up with child-proof latches on the kitchen cabinets, after he ate a sponge!)
posted by Carol Anne at 4:39 AM on August 3, 2007

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