Chewing is a known destructive habit in dogs. But, do you know that cats can develop this annoying habit as well? Aside from destroying your personal items, your cat may endanger itself by chewing unsafe items, such as electrical cords. But, why do cats chew on wires? Let’s find out why and how you can prevent such behavior.
Why Do Cats Chew On Cords?
If you are worrying because your cat chews cords at home, you’re not alone. This is a common concern many cat owners need to deal with at home every day. There could be many reasons why cats chew on cords. It can range from simple teething issues to more serious underlying medical conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Cats explore their environment using their mouth. So, it’s not a surprise that they may chew on different items at home. This habit may give them a soothing feeling, entertainment, or satisfaction. Electrical wires can be a perfect target because of their size and structure. Their easy to reach and gnaw on, plus, they are found in many places at home. They also resemble tails that may stimulate the cat to “catch” and bite.
To fully understand why cats keep chewing on cords, let’s discuss the possible reasons for this bothersome habit.
Boredom or Lack of Activity
Cats are instinctively curious creatures, so it’s natural for them to roam around and actively explore. Since they are independent animals, it’s easy to assume that they are good at being alone in the house. But, without proper physical and mental activities, cats can get bored too. Once the boredom kicks in, they’ll start to find entertainment by developing destructive behaviors such as chewing.
Being alone at home is not the only cause for boredom in cats. As they age, their activity levels may plummet due to certain medical conditions or joint problems. These may limit them from enjoying the activities they used to do and develop boredom.
Chewing may give a soothing feeling to your cat’s gums. So, cats suffering from dental issues tend to resort to this bothersome habit to get some relief. Problems in the gums and teeth are common in adult cats. In fact, a study by Cornell Feline Health Center reveals that 50-90% of cats older than four develop various dental issues. So, if your cat keeps chewing cords, it may be time to get a dental check-up to rule out this cause.
Adult cats aren’t the only ones seeking dental comfort from chewing. You may have noticed your kitten chewing on cords or other items at home, too. Kittens lose their baby teeth around 3 to 4 months of age. During the process, they’ll feel some discomfort from sore gums. That is why they resort to chewing to soothe the pain they feel.
The increase or decrease in physical activities may be influenced by certain medical conditions. As previously mentioned, joint problems, such as osteoarthritis, may limit a cat’s mobility. Thus, forcing the cat to turn to other activities instead, like chewing. On the other hand, hyperactivity may also be brought about by illnesses, such as hyperthyroidism. This spike in energy may cause your cat to be abnormally active and increase its urge to chew more including electrical wires.
As soon as your cat’s thyroid levels are stabilized, its activity level will reduce back to normal. So, if this is the cause of the chewing habit, then it’s treatable.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a behavioral issue that can develop in cats, too. OCD is more common in Siamese and Burmese cats. This disease causes the cat to overly exaggerate the otherwise normal actions in felines, such as grooming. Cats with OCD also tend to chase their tails and even end up self-mutilating. OCD also causes affected felines to chew, suck, and eat inedible items such as fabrics or wool.
This obsessive chewing may also be applied to other items at home such as electrical wires. If you’ve observed your cat chewing cords along with other symptoms mentioned, it may be suffering from OCD.
Felines eating inedible objects at home may be suffering from pica. A mild case of pica may cause the cat to suck or lick the object. But those with severe cases may consume the entire item. This poses a risk of intestinal blockage or in the case of electrical wires, electrocution in cats. There isn’t any known cause for pica, although there are speculations that it may be due to nutritional deficiencies, genetics, or other medical issues.
The treatment for pica varies depending on the underlying cause or other existing medical or behavioral issues of the cat. Full recovery may happen. Additionally, continuous management could also be another solution in certain cases.
There are numerous causes of stress in cats. Depending on your cat’s sensitivity, a mere change in the litterbox or the position of certain pieces of furniture may stress out cats. Having unusual events at home such as the arrival of visitors, children, or other pets may also cause stress. Other more serious causes include boredom, physical pain, lack of basic needs or activities, and lack of socialization.
Stress can induce abnormal eating habits including destructive chewing in cats. To relieve stress, cats may start biting your personal items, including electrical wires or cords.
How to Stop Your Cat From Chewing on Wires
Since it’s dangerous for cats to be chewing on wires, curbing the habit is essential for their safety. As a pet parent, you may have asked, “how to stop cats from biting wires?“. It may sound like a difficult task but with the right approach, it is achievable. Here are helpful tips for preventing cats from chewing electrical cords.
Make Time for Play
Keeping your cat active is key to preventing boredom. Schedule play times throughout the day to physically and mentally stimulate your cat. Breaking downplay times during the different times of the day prevents having a long period of inactivity. Not only are you targeting their chewing habits, but also helping them develop a healthy mind and body through exercise.
Provide Exciting Toys
Some cats can still get bored especially if the play times and toys are the same all the time. So, spice up their activities by mixing up their toys to keep them interested. You can also surprise them with new mentally-stimulating toys to keep them occupied. If they are still into chewing, provide a safe alternative by getting them a chew toy that is more appropriate for them.
Take Your Cat for a Regular Check-up
Whether they have chewing issues or not, it’s still best to take your kitty to the vet regularly. It may be a struggle for some, especially for cats that don’t like vet visits. But, it is necessary so you can spot and treat medical issues immediately before it’s too late.
Use PVC Pipes
Electrocution is a serious risk to cats chewing wires. While you’re working on correcting your cat’s behavior, double up your safety protection by using PVC pipes on your wires. Cover the wires with the pipes so your cat will have zero chance of getting to the wires.
Use Humane Cat Deterrent
Redirect your cat every time it tries to get to the wires by using humane cat deterrents. Many brands offer products that stop cats by emitting a startling sound or spraying a light puff of air to scare your cat away. Most of these products are motion activated, so they can detect your cat as it approaches the wires.
Why Do Cats Chew On Wires: FAQs
After going through the possible reasons as well as the prevention tips, let’s tackle the frequently asked questions on why cats chew on wires.
Kittens start to outgrow chewing habits between 18 to 24 months of age. Although most cats grow a complete set of adult teeth at 6 months old, they may still continue their chewing habits. However, this may also be dependent on how you managed and trained your kitten not to chew on the wires or other objects.
Cats biting wires that are connected to the power source may get electrocuted and suffer electric burns. If the voltage of the wire is quite high, the cat may suffer cardiac arrest and even death from the electrocution. Wires not plugged in can pose risks of ingestion and intestinal blockage in cats.
Yes, healthy cats may outgrow chewing when they reach 2 years old. However, if the cat suffers from other medical, dental, or behavioral issues, it may continue to chew even beyond this age. So, it’s important to address any underlying conditions if your cat doesn’t stop chewing after reaching 2 years of age.
Yes, anxiety and stress cause abnormal eating habits in cats including destructive chewing. To correct the chewing habits, the causes of the cat’s anxiety or stress need to be addressed first.
You can make use of humane cat deterrents to train your cat to stay away from electrical cords. You may also keep the cords out of sight by taping them or covering them with PVC pipes. Addressing other health issues is also essential to be successful in stopping your cat from biting wires.
A cat chewing wires is not just an annoying sight but is a dangerous one as well. So, as a pet parent, you’re responsible for keeping them safe by curbing this destructive behavior. There are many possible reasons why cats chew wires, but as soon as you address them, you can be successful in stopping this troublesome habit.