Cats will commonly chew on items to soothe their gums during teething, to exercise their natural instinct to use their back teeth, to alleviate boredom – or just for the pure enjoyment of it. A cat with gum disease, nutritional deficiencies or a digestive issue may also gnaw or drool on items, indicating something is amiss. It is important to visit your veterinarian for an thorough examination so that any underlying medical issues can be ruled out first.
Items that cats chew often include strings, wires and cords, plants, household fabrics, leather furniture, ribbons and tinsel which may cause hazards such as choking, intestinal obstruction, toxicity or electrocution.
The simplest solution is to put these items out of reach but this is not always practically possible.
- You can use furniture and carpets to block off access to wires and certain corners of the house. Try applying rows of double-sided sticky tape to the floor near cables and cords. Cats are reluctant to walk on the tape.
- Cover cords with hollow tubing (available from many computer supply stores).
- Spray the cords with an undesirable taste such as bitter apply spray. For a home-made alternative try combining 2 cups of lemon juice with 1 cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake well and apply it to furniture legs and other household items that your cat likes to chew.
- Use unappealing scents such as lemon, cayenne, rosemary or citronella to deter them.
- Provide ample exercise and enrichment such as chewable soft toys and treats to distract your cat. Hang wall or door mounted toys that your cat can swat around or a tunnel made from cardboard boxes.
- Offer cat grass (catnip) as many cats who like to chew also like to graze.
- Remove houseplants which may be toxic to your cat. Check this list of toxic plants to find out which ones are harmful to your cat.