Most cats start out as cord-biting kittens. For young cats, chewing on objects is a necessary part of their development. Kittens, specifically those between 3 and 6 months of age, learn about their world through exploration. And, like babies, they often put things in their mouths to play and explore.
When stopping cats from chewing cords, it’s best to hide the cords entirely. You can do this by putting cords and their devices into cabinets, hiding cords under cord covers, and wrapping cords in materials like Kevlar rope or split loom tubing. Other than concealing cords, make sure that your cat has other things to play with.
Biting cords isn’t just a risk to your cat. It’s a danger to your household as well. Exposed wires can cause fires, as well as electrocution. Thankfully, there are steps that you can do to prevent exposed wires.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Do Cats Bite Cords?
- 1.1 Why Are Electrical Cords Dangerous?
- 1.2 How To Stop Cats from Chewing Cords
- 1.3 What To Do If You Find a Chewed Cord
Why Do Cats Bite Cords?
You shouldn’t worry if your kitten is biting cords. A kitten chewing is a natural and expected behavior. Think of it as akin to children teething. The behavior itself doesn’t spell out health issues or other ailments.
While kittens are expected to chew, it’s different for adult cats. In older cats, chewing may hint at a larger problem. Here are some reasons why adult cats may chew on cords:
- Dental Problems: Chewing in adult cats often signals discomfort with their teeth and is often due to dental problems. These dental problems can include gum disease, tooth infections, and loose or broken teeth.
- Insufficient nutrients: Another reason for cord chewing is not having a healthy enough diet. According to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, cats who were fed a diet lacking in nutrients exhibited pica behaviors. That is, behaviors of chewing items that are not food, like shoelaces, thread, or fabric.
- Breed: Some breeds tend to develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which may manifest in biting and chewing. If this is the case, you may want to keep an eye out for other harmful behaviors.
- Stress: Stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors, and is mostly due to recent changes in a cat’s environment. Chewing on cords can alleviate stress and calm down a cat.
- Boredom: Sometimes, cat chewing may just be because your cat is bored. Boredom can lead to poor health for your cat.
If you notice your adult cat regularly chewing on cords, be sure to check its teeth. While not a medical emergency, dental problems can cause pain. And when left untreated, it can worsen and cause more health complications.
Why Are Electrical Cords Dangerous?
It’s tempting to leave cats alone when chewing. However, there are some real problems when your cat chews cords. These include the following:
- Short Circuits: Short circuits happen when an electric current goes where it shouldn’t. Short circuits can, at best, break your electronics. At worst, it can cause fires.
- Choking: Small bits of rubber or wire from the card can be swallowed by your cat and cause choking.
- Electrocution: Cords are often covered with a protective rubber coating. However, a cat’s sharp teeth can easily break through it. Perhaps the worst and most concerning danger of cords, electrocution can sometimes mean death for a cat.
Electrocution Symptoms in Cats
Electrocution is a serious medical emergency, and can cause seizures, organ damage, and even death. If you believe that your cat has been electrocuted, you should call your vet immediately. Here are some signs of electrocution in cats.
- Burns around and inside the mouth
- Fast breathing, or difficulty breathing
- Needing to stay upright to breath
- A bluish hue to the skin
How To Stop Cats from Chewing Cords
Chewing cords put both your cats and your whole family in danger. Exposed cords don’t just harm your cat, but also any person that comes into contact with the exposed wiring. On top of that, exposed wires are a fire hazard, and can cause your devices to break. Thankfully, there are ways that you can prevent your cat from chewing on your cords.
Hide The Cords
Perhaps the easiest and most fool-proof of solutions, hiding cords will stop your cat from chewing on them. When it comes to hiding cords, it’s best to be thorough. Cats are known for fitting in places that should be too small for them. Cats can also be pretty determined when it comes to reaching something they want to play with.
Don’t rely on hiding cords behind small spaces like the back of furniture. Cats can still reach into them and expose wiring. And if you think that cords are hidden from your cat, they’re still more likely to be hidden from just you. For this reason, don’t just hide cords behind furniture. If you can, hide cords inside their cases. If you can’t hide them, be sure to cover them.
It would help to simply put cords away. In households with a lot of people, things like cords can often be left forgotten and abandoned. Make sure to keep your cords neat and tidy and store them away when not in use. Even if unplugged cords do not cause short circuits and electrocutions, it’s still a good idea to save yourself from buying new cords.
Hide The Whole Device
If you can’t hide your cords, hide the whole device instead. Putting appliances like the televisions, microwaves, and toasters, inside their own cabinets will stop cats from reaching their cords.
Include the device’s cords inside the cabinets themselves. If possible, include multiple appliances inside one cabinet. In this way, you can plug them into one extension cord, so that you only have one cord to worry about. As a plus, you can easily disconnect this extension cord from the main socket.
For smaller devices that need to be portable, create a smaller version of a cabinet as a charging station. Charging stations are often DIY’d crafts that is, essentially, a box with an extension cord inside. Ideally, it would also have space to include the chargers for phones and other devices. For those who really want to make sure that your cat can’t get to your charging cables, pick a box that can also fit your device while it is charging.
Charging stations are meant to both hold your chargers and keep them out of sight. Other than keeping it away from your cats, it can also be a great way to keep your desk organized. Plus, you won’t have to hunt for your charging cable every time your phone needs charging.
Cords can be covered in a variety of ways. Because of how common cat chewing is, there are commercial cord covers you can find in most stores. Commercial cord covers include covers that attach to floors. Wires would be threaded under these attachments, protecting them but also keeping them in place.
These may not be the best solution for some cords, as it keeps the wires in one place permanently. It is also bulky, requires installation, and keeps the wire straight and taut, taking a lot of space. There is also an inevitable exposure of the wires at both ends. However, these types of cord covers may be a good choice for devices that stay in one place, like kitchen appliances.
For wires that need to be portable, there are cord covers that attach to the cord itself. These are often made of plastic or rubber, and the cord is threaded through the inside of the cover. This additional layer of material over the cording can still be chewed on by cats. But in this way, it will be chewed before the cording itself is chewed on. It will be much easier to replace the cord cover and will also lessen the risk of electrocution and short circuits.
If you have a lot of cords to cover, commercial cord covers may cost you a small fortune. Thankfully, there are ways for you to DIY cord covers using PVC piping. Simply saw the piping in half and connect it to your floors and walls. For portable cords, use split loom tubing. Split loom tubing is a type of bendable plastic tubing with a slit. Simply cut it to the length that you need and slip the cords inside the slit.
Commercially available cords made with Kevlar are also available. Most of these cords are phone charger alternatives, although they may be pricier than most other phone chargers.
You may also buy Kevlar rope coverings to act as a sleeve for your cable. However, the extra space that comes between a sleeve and the cable itself can cause problems. It would be less secure than cords that come produced with the Kevlar itself, as the Kevlar rope functions as the cord cover itself.
For those with a lot of lamps and sconces, consider hardwiring. Hardwiring is a cat-proof way to hide your cords. After all, if there’s one place that your cat cannot reach, it’s inside your walls. Replacing lamps for hardwired lighting can also reduce clutter and cords in your home.
There are a few downsides to this, however. Hardwiring can be expensive, labor-intensive, and takes up a lot of time. Hardwiring may also not be an option for those in apartments. However, if you have the chance to do so, hardwire your cords to ensure that they are cat-proof.
Choose wireless options as much as you can. Switch telephones for cell phones, charging ports instead of wired chargers, and use wireless mice and keyboards. See if you can switch wired lamps for battery-powered ones. Not only is this a fool-proof way to avoid cats chewing on your cords, it’s a great way to keep clutter down in your house as well.
Turn Off Devices
In addition to all the things to your cords to make them cat-proof, it’s a good idea to turn off your devices. Keeping your devices off when not in use can lessen the chances of electrocution. You will still need to change your cords when it is chewed through, but you’ll need to worry about your cat less.
As a rule of thumb, make sure to turn off all sources of lighting when you’re not in the room. Most modern lights have a small chance of overheating and causing fires, but the chances can increase when there’s a cat around. As a plus, you’ll be making savings on your power bill.
If your cat is trying to solve its boredom by chewing on your cords, it’s time to give them an alternative. Address your cat’s boredom by providing it with stimulating toys and activities. Playtime is also important to cats and can be great for their health.
There are many different cat toys on the market, but not all of them are made the same. If in doubt, talk to your vet to find the best cat toys for your cat. Cat toys should be enriching, stimulating, and age-appropriate. When choosing toys, make sure that it’s a good quality so it doesn’t harm your cat. Rotating through toys is also a good idea to ensure novelty and to keep your cat interested.
Other than toys, it’s a good idea to personally play with your cat as well. Your cat will appreciate human interaction, and is also a great way to bond with your feline friend. Toys like a feather wand, as well as toy mice, are great toys for playtime. No matter what toy you choose, make sure to play with your cat at least five minutes every day. Playing with your cat for at least five minutes daily has been linked to less behavioral problems, according to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
In addition to play, it’s also a good idea to give your cat spaces to climb and scratch. Cat furniture, like cat trees and towers, can be a safe alternative from chewing on your cords. Scratching posts are also an important part of any household with a cat. Not only will they stop your cat from biting cords, but it will also keep their claws clean and healthy.
Health Check Up
Above all else, it’s best to get your cat checked. This is especially true for adult cats who are incessant with chewing. After all, there is a good possibility that your cat has health issues that it’s trying to solve while chewing. A vet visit may be just the thing to make sure that issue is caught early and addressed properly.
Even if your cat doesn’t have health issues, going to your vet can be beneficial. It’s a chance to discuss your cat’s chewing behavior. Your vet may also have additional tips you can do to stop your cat from chewing.
What To Do If You Find a Chewed Cord
No matter how well you cat-proof your house, there’s still a good chance your cat will chew through your cords. If you find a chewed cord, what should you do to avoid electrocution and fires? Here are the steps that you should take when you find an exposed cord:
- Turn off the circuit breaker: An exposed cord can be dangerous to handle. Before handing a chewed cord, turn off the circuit breaker.
- Unplug the device: Before anything else, unplug the device before handling it to prevent the chances of electrocution.
- Examine other cords: If your cat has chewed through one wire, it may have chewed through others. Before turning the circuit breaker back on, examine your wires to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.
- Replace the cord: Cords that have been chewed through are now a safety hazard. Trying to fix cords may seem tempting, but inadequate fixes may cause the same hazards as cords that haven’t been fixed. This is especially true for devices that work at a high voltage, like kitchen appliances. For your safety, it’s best to replace the whole cord, and throw out those with exposed wiring.
While it may feel like you’re overreacting, exposed cords are a health hazard. They can be harmful not just for you, but also for your cat. Making sure that exposed cords are addressed, and preventing them from happening in the future, is a great way to keep your household safe.