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How To Stop Problem Chewing In Cats

Everyone knows dogs will chew on pretty much anything. Shoes, stuffed toys, your eyeglasses, everything is fair game to an untrained pup. But what about cats? 

 

With most kittens inappropriate chewing can indeed be a problem. In some cases, chewing turns into a stress-relieving habit and carries on into adulthood. Cats have smaller mouths compared to most dogs and so they tend to chew on smaller objects. Shoes are still on the menu but cats are more likely to slowly and methodically gnaw on a particular spot on the shoe, often a strap. Cords seem to be a hit with some cats, while others are dedicated cardboard shredders. For many kittens, a human finger is just too tempting not to chew on. Some kittens just love chewing their human's hair.

 

Why do cats chew on things?

Kittens often chew to relieve the pain and discomfort of teething. As their first teeth grow, fall out and are replaced with permanent teeth, kittens are likely to seek out objects to munch on. This can become a habit and the cat can keep on chewing as an adult, long after the permanent teeth have fully grown in. 

 

Chewing seems to provide some cats with stress relief, especially if the stress is related to boredom. In other words, a cat with too much energy and not enough stimuli can resort to chewing to relieve the stress. That said, it's always a good idea to ask your vet about your cat's chewing habits. He or she will check the cat's mouth and teeth, to make sure there is nothing which causes them physical discomfort.

 

Why stop my cat from chewing on things?

If done excessively, chewing can gradually erode the surface of the cat's teeth. A more pressing concern is safety: chewing on electric cords can be very dangerous. Some items may be toxic, or break apart with small parts being ingested by the cat.

 

Many owners complain about the damage caused by inappropriate chewing. 

Quote by KayZee49:
They chew on the remotes for our TVs while we use them and when they're just on the bed. They chewed through the cord on our $180 heating blanket. 

Other owners want to stop their cats from gnawing on their fingers. It certainly can be painful! 

 

While it can be tolerated with young kittens, inappropriate chewing often turns into a behavior problem with adult cats.

 

How to stop inappropriate chewing in cats?

Safety first. Does your cat chew on something that poses an immediate danger, such as electric cords, toxic plants or items that could splinter and hurt Kitty? Make sure you keep these dangerous objects out of the cat's reach. 

 

The second step is to identify the motivation for chewing. With kittens, the chewing is a natural part of the teething process. They will have to chew on something and you need to provide them with appropriate chew toys.

 

With adult cats, a small amount of chewing is acceptable, but if you suspect the behavior is becoming destructive, try enriching your cat's environment and lowering stress levels. 

 

Here are a few ideas for re-directing Kitty's chewing behavior to more acceptable outlets - 

 

1. Engage your cat with interactive playtime at least once a day. This keeps your cats from getting bored and lowers stress levels.

Read more:  Playing with Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know  

 

2. Try switching the type of food or add treats to your cat's diet. Some cats like the added crunch of dry food while others may enjoy chewy treats like these - 

 Orijen Freeze-Dried Alberta Wild Boar Cat Treats 

 Whole Life Pet All Natural Freeze Dried Treats 

 

3. Add some natural grass to your cat's diet by planting a little Kitty garden. This can both alleviate boredom and provide an extra crunch. 

Read more:  Cat Grass: How To Create The Purrfect Garden For Your Cat  

 

4. Keep Kitty from getting bored by creating an environment for your cat which encourages exercise and play. 

Read more: Beating Boredom - What Indoor Cat Owners Need to Know  andKeeping Indoor-Only Kitties Happy  

 

5. If your cat's chewing behavior became more frequent or intense, look into potential stressors and stress management techniques. 

Read more: Is Your Cat Stressed Out?  and  Six Surefire Strategies to Reduce Stress in Cats  

 

6. Offer alternatives, especially if your cat is young and could still be experiencing the growing pains of teething. You can try safe homemade alternatives, such as cardboard, or invest in appropriate chew toys for cats -

 

 

 

 

 

Need more help with destructive chewing behavior? Why not start a thread about it in the Cat Behavior forum

Comments (8)

Cardboard, packing paper from Chewy.com, and a Wiggle Worm work wonders for our cat who loves to chew and tear.
it's too bad the dental toys for cats are so small, my cat won't touch such small toys :( gotta find dog toys for him lol
If you cat likes catnip, @scylla, maybe a Cosmic Catnip toy would be helpful? Our cat that chews a lot loves their toys, many of which are 6-7 inches long: she holds it in her front paws, chews, and bunny kicks with her back paws. Her original toy, a fish called Annette, has lasted 2-3 years with a fair bit of regular use. She also loves her Petstages chew wheel but that's relatively small.
@LisaHE unfortuntely he rips them to bits the same day big tooth holes within minutes! he's got a couple now but yeah goes through those and cardboard like nothing. so we keep boxes for him haha
And there's the funny thing, @scylla: sometimes paper and cardboard boxes are the best thing! Ireland uses the toys but she loves the shredding even more: my office recycling bin is her favorite place. (And she, too, shreds and gnaws through most of the fabric toys right away: only the sturdiest, largest ones, from Cosmic Catnip, have lasted... I have no idea how!)
@LisaHE so im guessing its the banana and pepper type ones from cosmic catnip? ill try one tonight i think its the only one we've yet to try lol and yeah we have a city of boxes he climbs in he only likes chewing on the printed boxes though I guess the brown ones taste bad haha
@scylla, I'm not sure about the pepper but the banana and the fish (here's Annette!) have lasted a long, long time. Years. The carrot, however, did not: it's smaller and the fabric is flimsier so it was gone very quickly. (The catnip got repurposed...)
 
I just remembered another toy she's liked a lot: socks with catnip. I put catnip in the toe of a knee sock, knot it a few inches up and then turn it on itself a few times, sprinkling catnip each time, and knot it again. It comes out like a ball with a tail. They're pretty firm toys and both cats enjoy rolling around with them, chewing, and kicking.
 
And if all else fails, there are always more boxes! :-)
Very lovely article ! Thanks alot!
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