Why Does My Cat Chew Wires?
When cats and wires mix, it is destructive and potentially dangerous. To your cat, wires might look like a great thing to chew on and play with. In their defense, it looks and acts like a string toy and they don’t understand the dangers.
For some kittens and adult cats alike, the act of chewing is satisfying and feels good on their teeth and gums. This is especially true for kittens during their teething stages.
Some cats interact with wires because they are bored and are either looking for something to play with or just to get your attention. Cats that recognize that you don’t want them to play with the wires might do it anyway to get your attention. These cats might make sure that you’re watching them or announce their actions with a loud meow. Even negative attention for some cats is desirable, so they might provoke you by chewing on wires.
What to do
Alternatives to cords
If your cat frequently chews on cords, it’s a good idea to present them with more desirable alternatives. The first thing to consider is why your cat is chewing them. Are they having fun playing and chewing them, or does the cat enjoy the feeling of chewing?
If you believe that your cat is doing this simply because it’s fun, then try adding new toys and offering them more play time. This will satisfy their need for enrichment and perhaps prevent them from seeking their own fun.
If your cat has plenty of toys, but they don’t often play with them, try playing with the toys with your cat in different ways, or consider giving them different types of toys that they are more interested in.
For cats that enjoy the feeling of chewing, or kittens that are teething, try offering them a treat that they can chew on, such as dehydrated chicken feet.
It is a good idea not to punish your cat if they go after wires. Punishing them verbally can either scare your cat and strain the bond with them, or give them attention for doing something undesirable, thereby reinforcing the behavior.
Punishing your cat in other ways will strain the bond between you and your cat and will lead to more problem behaviors later in life. While it sounds counterproductive, often the best thing to do when your cat is playing with cables is to ignore them (unless they are in danger). Replace the cord with a toy.
If you notice your cat interacting with a toy as an alternative to the wires, praise them. Positive reinforcement for playing desirable is more effective than punishment for playing with something not desirable. To encourage your cat to interact with their own toys rather than cables, offer them praise, treats, or play when they make the good choice.
In addition to reinforcing your cat for making good choices, it’s a good idea to prevent your cat from interacting with the cords at all. If you have cables that can be stored, put them away when possible. Try a cable management solution or organize your cables so they look less enticing to a cat.
If All Else Fails
As a last resort, you can try a bittering agent designed for cats. While Space Cat Academy does not advocate for aversive training methods, the safety of your pet is of top priority. If you feel that your cat poses a danger to itself by his or her habit of chewing cables, and you have no other options, you may want to consider applying a bittering agent to the dangerous cords.
In this case, since the cables pose a threat to your cat’s wellbeing, a bittering agent—while aversive—follows the LIMA methodology: least invasive, minimally aversive. It is better to use a bittering agent and keep them safe than to allow them to chew wires and be harmed.