If your cat won’t stop chewing cords in the home, their health is in genuine danger. Electrical cords carry live currents that will eventually shock your cat. Electrocution is also a possibility.
It’s vital that you protect cords from pets. Learning how to cat-proof electrical wires and cords may save their life. You also need to understand why your cat is chewing wires, though. This complete guide addresses this high-risk behavioral problem, from cause to resolution.
- 1 Why Does a Cat Chew on Electrical Cords?
- 2 My Cat Only Chews White Cords
- 3 How Can I Stop My Cat from Chewing Cords?
- 4 My Cat Was Electrocuted After Chewing a Cord
Why Does a Cat Chew on Electrical Cords?
There is an abundance of reasons why cats chew on electrical cords. Learning what inspires the behavior is every bit as important as preventing it.
It’s possible that your cat is just curious. A trailing cord will capture their attention. They’ll then investigate it with their mouths. There may be more to it, though.
Some of the most common explanations for a cat chewing on electrical cords are as follows:
- Dental Pain. If your cat has dental issues, they’ll draw comfort from chewing plastic.
- Habit. Chewing plastic is often pleasurable for a cat. They may find that, once they start, it’s a hard habit to break.
- Boredom. If you cat lacks mental stimulation, they’ll find it any way they can.
- Stress. If your cat is feeling anxious, they’ll look for something to gnaw to self-soothe. Electrical wires provide this.
- Attention Seeking. If your cat feels neglected, they’ll try to get your attention. If you react when they chew cords, they’ll notice this.
- Pica. This is a psychological condition that leaves your cat compelled to eat non-food items.
- Cords Resemble Animal Tails. Some experts believe that cats chew electrical cords because they look like animal tails, triggering hunting instincts.
- Cords Resemble String. On a similar note, cats like to play with string. They may mistake an electrical cord for string or rope.
Finding out why your cat is doing this is crucial. It’s only then that you can take the necessary steps to stop the behavior.
My Cat Only Chews White Cords
An observation that many pet owners have made is that cats gravitate toward white electrical cables. What could the explanation for this be?
It may just be a matter of confirmation bias. Most trailing electrical cords are white, after all. However, we also mentioned that some cats mistake electrical wires for string. White cords are the closest visual comparison.
You can perform a simple experiment, in these cases. Wrap the white cables in black electrical tape. If your cat loses interest, you have a cheap solution.
If this does not work, however, you will need to find a more permanent solution. A cat chewing on electrical cords is not a harmless habit that can be indulged.
How Can I Stop My Cat from Chewing Cords?
There are several ways that you can stop cats from chewing electrical cords. All the same, you should discover why they are doing so. You can then tailor an action plan accordingly.
For example, take a look at your cat’s teeth. If they have started chewing electrical cables from nowhere, they are likely experiencing dental pain.
VCA Hospitals discuss the symptoms of toothache in cats. Periodontal disease is extremely common. Any cat older than three can experience this, and likely will.
If your cat does have aching teeth or gums, they’ll chew to relieve the discomfort. This behavior starts with teething kittens, and remains throughout a cat’s adult life.
If your cat is experiencing dental problems, they’ll need a vet. A professional must deal with these issues, or they’ll escalate. There are many methods to deal with electrical cord chewing.
Keep Cords Out of Reach of Cats
The simplest method of preventing the chewing of cords is to prevent access to cords. If your cat’s mouth doesn’t reach them, they can’t chew on any wires.
This could be achieved in several ways:
- Apply wires high on a wall, fastened with tape
- Fasten wires down with tape
- Cover wires with a different material
- Keep wires in cabinets
- Enclose and block any wires
- Unplug appliances that are not in use, and wrap up the cords
Aiming high will be effective in keeping wires out of feline reach. However, if your pet is determined to reach them, it could be dangerous.
Cats can be resourceful. If they know there is a path to something they want, they’ll find it. By clambering on furniture, they may access the wires. This leaves them at risk of electrocution and falling from a height.
Fastening wires to the floor could be safer. You could also disguise the cords this way. Consider using strong, black electrical tape. If your cat is only concerned with white cables, they won’t show any interest.
This method is not foolproof either, though. It may not be appealing from an aesthetic standpoint, for a start. Black electrical tape is not particularly decorative. Your cat may also become curious and claw at the tape.
Consider the use of cabinets, too. If your wires are behind glass, your cat cannot reach them. A cabinet also makes a great charging station for cell phones and laptops.
Even if you cannot unplug appliances, you should certainly turn them off when they’re not in use. This means switching off at the mains, not just stand-by.
It’s better if your cat doesn’t chew at all. By turning appliances off, they will at least avoid biting into a live current.
This will not be an option for specific appliances. Your refrigerator and icebox, for example, will have to remain on. In such cases, hide the cables.
Tuck these wires behind the appliance, and push it against the wall. Invest in a freestanding bookshelf and sandwich the wires between it.
Whatever way you can block access, do so. Remember that cats often wander around the house while you’re asleep at night. This is when they’re most likely to get into mischief.
Of course, this will not always be successful. If your cat is of a mind to chew cables, they’ll find a way. It’s best to add further protection.
Use a Cat Cord Protector
If you can’t hide cords from your cat, the next best thing is to protect them. There is a wide array of electrical cable protection available for purchase. Alternatively, you could construct your own.
Any electrical store will sell cat cord protectors. You’ll also find them online. Before purchasing, you need to assess what kind of chewer your cat is.
Some cats gently nibble electrical cables. They are acting out of curiosity, and wondering how it tastes. A slight, thin protector is suitable for these felines.
Other pets have extremely strong jaws. They’ll tear a piece of electrical cord apart. A cord protector designed for small animals will be no use in these instances. You’ll need something industrial-strength.
You could also make your protector for cables, if you are DIY-savvy. Split loom tubing is the ideal material due to its versatility.
Split loom tubing is available in a range of diameters to suit cabling of any size. You can also cut to an appropriate length using scissors. This substance is tough and will resist the attention of any cat.
Another positive aspect of cat cord protectors is their adaptability. You can add an unpleasant smell and taste sensations to deter feline interest.
Make Cords Unappealing to Your Cat’s Senses
If you want to keep your cat away from cables, make them as unappealing as possible. This means applying adverse smells, tactile sensations, and even sounds.
The smell will always be the most impactful way to keep your cat away from cables. As soon as they get close enough to a disagreeable aroma, your cat will walk away.
Mint and citrus fruit are notable cat deterrents. Even applying a product like Vicks VapoRub will be effective. Alternatively, purchase a cat repellent spray from a local store.
If your cat is curious enough to ignore the unfavorable aroma, think about touch. Cats do not like sticky feelings under the paws. They certainly won’t like them around their mouth.
You cannot use glue. This is toxic if licked and swallowed. Consider double-sided sticky tape, though. This is available from any hardware store.
The tape can be applied to the wire itself, or ideally, the protective cover. This will hold firm, like all sticky tape. You can also unpeel a second, top layer though.
If your cat places a paw on this, they will find it unpleasant. As a result, they’ll leave the cable alone. Apply the tape to the surrounding area for extra protection.
Consider noise. Cats hate loud noises, so if you’re watching, distract them when they approach a cable. Blowing a whistle will be effective.
Hissing is arguably the most impactful noise of all. Cats consider this the universal sound of danger. If they develop a slight fear of wires, it’s no bad thing.
Create an Enriching Environment for Your Cat
Removing a cat’s desire to chew at all is the best way to stop the habit. If your cat is entertained in other ways, they won’t even think about chewing cables.
Creating an enjoyable environment for your cat keeps them happy and healthy, both physically and mentally. If they have something better to do, they won’t chew wires.
Make sure that your cat has everything they need in the home. This includes multiple scratching posts and toys. You should also make sure that you play with your cat.
Your cat may be hunting cables. If you actively play with your cat, they’ll hone their hunting instincts this way. Play also tires that your cat out. This makes them less likely to look for ways to pass the time.
If your cat is older and arthritic, invest in some puzzle feeders. Cats with limited mobility will be sedentary by nature. This can be dull, though, and lead to chewing. Puzzle feeders keep the gray matter alive.
There is also the possibility that anxiety is causing your cat to chew. Has anything in their routine changed? This could be as simple as a new brand of litter in their tray.
If your cat is stressed, you need to calm them down. Establish a routine for your pet that keeps them content. This will keep them away from your cables.
Provide Your Cat with Something Else to Chew
Another way to keep your cat amused is by giving them something different to chew. If this is what appeals to them, there are safer alternatives.
Plastic cat toys, doused in catnip, are an ideal solution. You could also give your cat some cardboard.
If all else fails, why not make your cat a chewing device made from old cables? If your cat is so determined to chew wires, attach non-live cables to a box.
As cats are territorial, these will become their wires. This means that – in theory – they’ll leave yours alone. This is a risky move, though. Your cat may declare all the cables in a home to be their property.
Be mindful of chewing habits in general. This is not a natural behavior for many cats. A feline that wants to chew constantly may have dental pain, or is anxious and self-soothing.
Ensure That Your Cat Does Not Have a Medical Condition
If your cat continues to hunt down cables to chew, speak to a vet. Your cat’s tendencies may be medical or psychological,
We have already discussed the possibility of pica. Cats that live with this condition are typically drawn to plastic. They find this material calming and pleasurable.
Your vet will run tests, and confirm whether your pet is unwell. If they are, accept prescription medication.
My Cat Was Electrocuted After Chewing a Cord
If your cat chews on cords, electrocution is a real possibility. This will be painful, and in some cases, life-threatening.
The severity of the shock depends on many factors. How high was the voltage? How hard did your cat bite? How long was the cable in their mouth?
Some of the common symptoms of an electric shock in felines include:
- Burns around the mouth
- Pawing at the corner of the mouth
- Reluctance to eat
- Bad breath
- Accelerated heart rate
- Coughing and trouble breathing
The latter is the most concerning. A vet must review any feline electrocution, though. Symptoms can manifest hours after the shock, so be vigilant.
As Vets Now explains, a cat’s lungs fill with fluid when they receive an electric shock. This is better known as pulmonary edema. This condition often leaves cats unable to breathe, and at risk of heart failure.
Is First Aid Required After a Cat is Electrocuted?
Safety is paramount when any electric shock is involved, for you and your cat. Start by switching off the source of electricity at the mains.
Once you have done this, see if you can remove the cable from your pet’s mouth. Sometimes, electric shocks force a cat’s jaws to clamp shut. If you can do so, take away the cable without touching your cat.
Next, you need to check if your cat is breathing. Be careful here. You may be stocked yourself if you touch your cat. This may be necessary, though.
If your cat needs CPR, follow PetMD’s instructions on how to administer this. If not, get them to a vet. Wrap your cat in a blanket as you travel. They may go into shock, and this will keep warm.
There is little to gain by hesitating after the incident. Even if your cat seems fine, they may experience a delayed reaction. Do not take any chances. They could end up fatal.
Electrical cables and cats will always make pet parents uneasy. Wires endlessly fascinate felines. This makes it tough to relax.
Take as many precautions as possible. Keeping cats away from cables helps. If this is impossible, make them as unappealing as possible.
Not every cat will be drawn to electrical cables. Those that are, however, can do themselves serious harm. Keep this mind, and take appropriate precautions. Your cat’s life may depend on it.