Cats chew on cords because it feels good on their teeth. They may be going through a teething stage or just like the sensation of biting into hard plastic. Your cat may continue to chew on cords because they know it gets a reaction out of you and it’s a way to instantly get your attention. And your cat loves to have your attention.
Each cat is different and there are several reasons your cat may be chewing on cords.
It’s important to first determine why your cat is chewing on cords so you can properly correct the situation.
Let’s look at all the potential reasons:
1 – Teething
A kitten will go through two teething stages. One when they get their kitten teeth and another when they get their adult teeth. When a kitten gets their first set of teeth, they’re typically too small to reach cords plugged into outlets. As well, they typically chew on something softer, such as the corner of a cardboard box.
However, when their adult teeth start to come in around six months old, they’ll be big enough to reach cords plugged into outlets. The hard plastic of the cord and plugin is the right texture for your kitten to chew on and relieve the pain of teeth coming in.
2 – Dental Issues
When a kitten’s adult teeth are coming in, or at any point during a cat’s life, dental issues can arise. Gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption will cause discomfort in your cat’s mouth. Chewing on harder objects can help relieve some of that pain, and a hard plastic cord may be your cat’s chewing choice.
Did you know you’re supposed to brush your cat’s teeth? I had no idea until we were informed during a vet visit that our cat Josh had a buildup of plaque. We were given the cutest toothbrush and salmon toothpaste.
But if your cat’s not the type to let you clip their nails, let alone stick a toothbrush in their mouth, there are many alternatives on the market to keep your cat’s teeth healthy.
A treat may be the best option to start:
3 – Boredom
If your cat isn’t getting enough of your attention, they may resort to chewing on cords because they know it immediately gets your attention. Chances are, you jump up and shoo them away as soon as you hear or see them chewing on a cord.
Lack of playtime can also cause them to wander around looking for things to do. Cats can get into some interesting predicaments when they’re bored.
4 – Stress
Just as humans deal with stress in different ways (e.g. biting nails, over-eating, etc.), so do cats. If your cat is feeling stressed because of a recent change in their environment, that stress will have an impact on their behaviour. And chewing on cords around the house may be how your cat expresses their stress.
Consider if anything has changed in your household lately. It may be a change in routine, a new roommate, or even a new piece of furniture. What seems small to us can be stressful to a cat.
5 – Pica
Pica is a behavioural issue in cats that causes an urge to eat non-edible items. A cat may eat rubber bands, plastic, fabric, cords, etc. The cause of pica is unknown, which makes it harder to address. However, the suggestions in the next section will help.
How to stop cat from chewing cords
To stop cats from chewing on cords you must implement chew toys while using the proper techniques to dissuade them from chewing on cords while persuading them to chew on acceptable objects.
When dealing with unwanted cat behaviour, it’s important not to put bandaids on it. You can protect the cords in your home (suggestions in the next section), but that’s a bandaid.
While you break their habit of chewing on cords, it will be important to cover and protect the cords so your cat doesn’t get hurt (cord cover suggestions are in the next section).
But covering the cord alone won’t help; it’s a bandaid.
Try to understand why your cat is chewing on cords and then use the following suggestions to correct the behaviour. Otherwise, your cat will be on the hunt for new cords or other objects in your house they can chew.
1 – Chew toys
Give your cat something more appropriate to chew on. There are many types of cat chew toys on the market, but try to find one that mimics the texture of a cord.
You don’t want the chew toys to be too similar to a cord (e.g. don’t give them a spare extension cord you don’t plug in), or your cat won’t understand why they can chew on one but not the other.
My cats have never been too fond of chew toys on their own, but ones you can place catnip in do pique their interest more.
Alternatively, you may try a chew stick. They don’t match the material of a cord, but your cat may prefer it over a plastic chew toy, which will take their attention away from chewing cords.
2 – Positive reinforcement
It will take some training to teach your cat to chew on their chew toy rather than a cord. It’s important to understand that cats don’t learn through punishment. You must use positive reinforcement.
Instead of yelling at your cat and chasing them away when they chew on a cord, redirect their attention to a chew toy.
When your cat chews on their chew toy, reward them.
The best reward you can give a cat is your love and attention.
Tell your cat “good job!”, “good boy/girl” “yes!”, in an excited tone when they use the chew toy.
If they chew on a cord, tell them “no” in a stern voice, pick them up, move them to their chew toy, and as soon as they start playing with or chewing on that, give them encouragement.
Correction won’t happen overnight but encouraging their good behaviour will be much more effective than reprimanding their bad behaviour.
3 – Playtime
If your cat is understimulated, they’ll look for ways to entertain themselves. And nine times out of ten, cat owners don’t like their cat’s choices.
Be sure to play with your cat multiple times a day. The younger they are, the more playtime they’ll need.
Not to mention, the more stressed they are, or the more they’re acting out, the more playtime they need.
You should be dedicating time each morning and evening to play with your cat. Let them signal to you when they’ve had enough playtime. This ensures they’re getting out all their energy in the right way.
You may also consider introducing a new toy each month. This will give them new objects to explore that are more appropriate for them to play with and chew on.
And if you’re really dedicated, consider adopting another cat. We recently adopted two brother kittens and I can’t tell you what a difference it makes having each other to play with and keep each other entertained.
They still require playtime from us, but also spend a lot of time playing with each other and chasing one another around the house. And, they are still kittens who like to get into trouble, so they’ve kept us on our toes teaching them right from wrong.
4 – Give more attention
Your cat loves to have your attention. And if they’re not getting enough of it, they’ll resort to bad behaviour that immediately gets your attention, such as chewing on cords. They don’t care that chewing on cords makes you mad, they just want your attention.
Along with playtime, be sure to give your cat one-on-one time when they get your undivided attention. Talk to them in a loving tone, make eye contact with them, give them pets and scratches, let them lead you around the home, etc.
You’ll be amazed at how much love and attention can solve.
5 – Vet checkup
Regular vet checkups are vital, as they can help spot problems before they become bigger issues. When a small health issue turns into a big health issue, it’s much more expensive to fix, or worse yet, can be irreversible.
Let your veterinarian know your cat has been chewing on cords, and anything else they chew on, so they can look for dental or other health issues and offer suggestions.
How to cat-proof wires
As you’re teaching your cat or kitten not to chew on cords, it will take some time to correct their behaviour.
To prevent your cords from being damaged and your cat from being harmed during this period, take the following steps to cat-proof your wires.
1 – Cord covers
If your cat tends to chew on the cord rather than the plugin, cord covers will keep them from biting into a dangerous wire.
Cats don’t like sticky surfaces, so if you wrap your cord in double-sided sticky tape, they’ll be less likely to paw at it or chew on it. (That being said, when our more defiant kitten really wants our attention, he’ll walk across sticky surfaces, but most of the time, he’ll avoid them).
The downside of sticky tape is that it’s messy to take off and will start to collect cat hair and dust.
You can also use sticky tape to keep your cat away from the entire area. If there’s a spot your cat loves to sit and chew on a plugin, make a sticky spot on the floor.
They won’t like stepping on a sticky surface, so add some double-sided sticky tape to a placemat and set the placemat on the floor below the outlet.
I wouldn’t suggest placing sticky tape directly on a floor or furniture surface. After several weeks, the sticky tape doesn’t come up very cleanly. It can even ruin a finish.
3 – Spiky mat
If the sticky surface doesn’t stop your cat, try a spiky mat or even a mat with an electrical current.
You can move these around the house to keep your cat off the counter or away from other areas of the house (e.g. if you don’t want your cat going upstairs but don’t have a door to close them off, spiky mats on the bottom few stairs can keep them downstairs.
3 – Spray
There are several sprays on the market designed to deter cats from chewing on objects.
This one has the best reviews.
4 – Ssscat
Similar to a spiky mat, Ssscat will keep your cat away from an area. It’s motion-activated and will shoot a burst of air when set off.
They work well, when they work. I’ve found the key is to have good lighting or the motion sensor has a harder time picking up the motion. If the cord your cat likes to chew on is in a dark corner or behind a cabinet, try a plugin light to help the sensor pick up motion.
Do cats grow out of chewing wires?
A cat will grow out of chewing wires if they’re chewing them during a teething phase or as a kitten when they’re exploring new objects. But it’s still important to teach your kitten not to chew on cords, or they may continue to chew on them past the teething phase.
If your cat is chewing wires because they’re dealing with a health issue such as nutritional deficiency, stress, or a sore tooth, the issue will have to be addressed for your cat to stop chewing wires.
In all cases, if your cat has developed a habit of chewing on cords and wires, you’ll need to use the tips in this article to break them of that habit, along with addressing any health issues.
Should I let my cat chew wires?
Never let a cat chew wires as they’re not only bad for their teeth, they can also seriously harm your cat if the wires are electrical.
If you allow your cat to chew wires, they’ll develop a habit of it. Your cat won’t know the difference between a safe wire to chew and one that has electricity running through it.
Your cat’s safety is the main concern, but they can also damage your property if you allow them to chew on wires.