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Cat Won't Stop Chewing

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
We have a kitten that's about 7 months old. She's developed the very bad habit of chewing, but only a few specific things. She will destroy shoelaces, any plastic bag, and has started eating holes in clothing and eating through any type of strap (on shirts, bras, etc.). Strangely, she doesn't chew on power cords very much at all.

We spray her with water whenever we catch her in the act, but most of the time we discover it after the fact.

Any tips?
post #2 of 5
I have Bitter Apple spray to put on wires, shoes, laces, etc. It works a lot better for puppies and kittens. Even adult cats will not chew if the BA is on stuff.

You can buy it in petshops, Petco, Petsmart, etc. No home should be without Bitter Apple.
post #3 of 5
Spraying her with water actually isn't such a good idea, because over time it can contribute to her being afraid of you, and as you point out, the failure is that it just stops the behavior at the time.

FYI, plastic bags are a problem for a lot of cats - it's an ingredient in the bags. The only thing to do here (because they are SO dangerous) is to never leave any out unattended.

It may help to leave out appropriate things for her to chew on. Take a look in the pet store, and get stuff for teething cats. She should be past this stage - but 4 - 6 months is just a guideline, so it's not impossible to believe she's still teething. Another thing that may really help in addition to cat chew toys for teething kitties is get a box of bendy straws (it's what we used when our cats were teething) and scatter them EVERYWHERE. They are made of a type of plastic that they can't chew apart immediately, and you'll see they're chewed up before they can chew enough to swallow any. Throw those away. Depending upon how much chewing gets done, that can be a couple of days or a couple of weeks.

With cats, changing behavior is best achieved by redirection, and then, just like with 2 - 3 year old kids, you have to not only provide the "no," you have to provide the "yes."

To say "no" or "stop it" to a cat, it is far more effective to use their own language than to squirt them with water. When you see your cat chewing on something she shouldn't be, blow a short, sharp puff of air directly in her face and say "no." Then redirect her behavior - hand her a bendy straw or something appropriate that she likes to chew on, and tell her what a good girl she is when she starts chewing on the proper stuff. After you hand her the "good" thing to chew on and praise her for using it, walk away. You don't want her to (also) learn that being bad gets her attention.

When you see her chewing on something that's OK when she does it on her own, tell her what a good girl she is and praise her to high heaven. !!

I'd also do my best to put away stuff she likes to chew on that she shouldn't. Not having plastic bags she can access out is really a must. As to the other things, removing the temptation helps too. It's the same principle of selling little blank plugs that go into sockets and installing "child proof" closers on cabinet doors to prevent young children from hurting themselves.

Hope this helps,

post #4 of 5
I saw this suggestion when I was training my dog and it worked well for the cats, too. Put some coins in an empty soda can and put some duct tape over the hole. Keep it close by and when she starts to chew, shake hard and quickly and give a stern no. It said not to really let them see you shaking the can. It usually sends them running.

I agree about the plastic bags, you just hae to make sure they are put up and out of their reach.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips. We're definitely going to try the soda can tactic.

The problem with picking her up when she's doing something wrong is that she runs away as soon as you move. She knows that she's doing something bad.

I realize that keeping plastic bags out of reach is a good idea anyway and we do that. But her chewing on clothing is worse. We can't leave clothes out on the dryer, on the dresser, or anywhere else. We can't leave shoes out. She leaves my clothes alone for the most part (but loves my shoelaces), but really eats my wife's clothes, especially anything stretchy or with straps. It's not feasible to spray all of our clothes and shoes with it, but we'll try the shoes at least.
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