Is it possible to keep cats from chewing cords?

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Cat and power cord
We have a cat problem. And who better to ask for advice than the feline fanatics of Offbeat Home?

We have a pair of one-year-old, neutered, male kittens. They are amazing cats — friendly, cuddly, and affectionate. They’re practically perfect except for one giant problem: They chew cords.

After losing two pairs of speakers and numerous phone chargers, we started locking them on the non-computer, non-bedroom side of the house at night (as they only seemed to chew them when everyone was in bed). For months, this has seemed sufficient. However, we recently discovered my husband’s phone charger chewed through, and forensics puts the time of death somewhere during the two hours before their dinner time. This is the first time they’ve had the audacity to commit this crime while we were all up and about.

Any suggestions on how to break our cats of this cord-chewing habit once and for all?

Have you looked into one of these Critter Cord Protectors or an anti-chew bitter spray? Those are my two suggestions.

What are yours, Offbeat Homies? Share your anti-cord-chewing knowledge!

Comments on Is it possible to keep cats from chewing cords?

  1. When our dog was a puppy she used to chew cords. I got a cord protector for some, which was less interesting for her. I also smeared sriracha hot sauce on them, which was un-yummy enough to keep her away. I don’t know if that would work for cats, though.

  2. I found that the Bitter Apple Gel worked to deter my cats from eating our cords. Our vet recommended the bitter gel and spray because cats have taste receptors for bitter and don’t have the taste receptors for other flavors. Just as a warning, wash your hands after you handle your bitter gel covered cords. That crap sticks to your fingers for a long time and you do not want that stuff on your tongue. It is so strong.

  3. The spray does work. Giving them lots of other things to play with works. Waiting until they’re older and not interested in cords anymore works. And if all else fails, you can get a remote switch for the vacuum, and turn on the vacuum every time you hear them chewing cords.

  4. Idk about deterring the cords specifically when you’re not around, but my kitty hates the canned air noise. Whenever she does something punishable, I either spray some canned air (not at her, but anywhere), or just make a really loud “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” and she darts away terrified.

  5. Bitter Apple, above, is a good thing to consider. Citrus, in general, is a hated scent for cats. A little lemon juice on the cord every other day may be a good thing. It can be a little cheaper and, hey, you also get great tasting water or a cockatil if it suits you. lol

    If it’s happening at night, it could also be a boredom thing. Just like how some people reach for snacks when they get bored, cats also get a case of the munchies in when they’re bored. They just make some seriously questionable choices when that happens. πŸ˜‰ If there’s something you can have going or have around while you’re sleeping which won’t keep you up, but will also keep your guys entertained it could also distract away the chew impulse.

    • That’s what I was going to suggest! My kitten did the same thing, but she couldn’t get through the pipe insulation. Eventually she grew out of cord chewing.

  6. We never had much luck with bitter spray. We put it on our artificial Xmas tree one year and the next year the cat was treating it like we had salted the tree just for him.

    I would try wrapping the cords in aluminum foil until they’re broken of the habit. Kitties don’t like the texture of aluminum foil at all. And provide plenty of other interesting things to chew on that aren’t cord-like.

    The other thing I would try is taking about 15-20 minutes a day with a feather toy/ laser pointer/ ribbon/ etc and playing hard with them. Less energy in general means less energy for badness.

    • Mine loves tinfoil! Damn creatures are no one size fits all.

      Can you give them a substitute cable to chew on and hide the others really well?

      • I wouldn’t recommend a substitute cable, even if you did hide the others – you want to teach the cat that ALL cables are off-limits, as they don’t know the difference between “acceptable to chew” and “not allowed to chew.”

  7. Nothing works for our cat. It seems she chews on cords and furniture for attention (but then when we try to give her attention, she doesn’t want it…)

    She’s sensitive to smells, but none of the sprays/rubs work. We gave up using a spray bottle because it’d only deter her for a minute. She electrocuted herself with a laptop power cord and still gnaws on them! Our attempts now are just to keep as many cords hidden as we can, and to hope she grows out of the habit. We play with her too, but I haven’t noticed it making a huge difference. I just want her to stop! It’s not only expensive and frustrating, but it’s scary to think she could really hurt herself. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this thread for new ideas.

  8. Had the same problem with my cat. One of my dogs hates the scent of the Tiger Balm/achy muscle rub. I assumed that the cat probably did also. Took some of this balm, rubbed down the cell phone charging cord, let it dry during the day while I was at work, and plugged it up that night. Cat has stayed away from that particular ever since.

  9. My cat also liked white Apple cords, and murdered two (but did not seem interested in black or brown cords like for lamps and such). So I had to replace them, and bought colourful ones because they were on sale. My cat actually didn’t seem interested in colourful cords at all, so if you have to replace them anyways you might want to try that.

  10. Part of the reason cats chew on cords is because they resemble snakes; snakes are one of cats’ main “enemies” in the wild. I’ve heard of people having luck with giving their cats their very own “snake” to “kill” in order to deter them from chewing cords. Just make sure that whatever you give them isn’t something they’re going to get tangled in, or chew and swallow.

    Alternately, Doctors Foster and Smith sells a motion activated can of air that could scare them away from going anywhere near the cords.

  11. For my cats, the most effective means has been to remove the temptation. They only go after cords once every six months or so, so staying prepared with yucky sprays/rubs just ain’t happenin’.
    If you can commit, just set up a charging station and keep the cords there. Bonus points if the charging station is up somewhere the cats don’t go. Tape the cords down so that they don’t dangle freely. For cords that have to travel, use cord protectors.

  12. My cats can be chewers too although *knock on wood* they haven’t been too attracted to chords yet. But, they LOVE to chew on and eat all sorts of shit that isn’t food.

    For my boys, my first line of defense is just not letting them at whatever it is they want to eat that’s bad for them. Fake flowers, gift wrapping ribbons and bows all are stored in closets they can’t get into. But that’s not always a practical solution.

    We have a vintage aluminum Christmas tree and I was SURE the cats would see it as a feast, so I took a LOT of precautions the first time we set it up. I doused the whole bottom of the tree with Bitter Apple spray (and as other have said, do NOT get it in your mouth, it stays FOREVER. Also, don’t inhale while you’re actively spritzing as I’ve gotten the taste in my mouth that way). I made little “ornaments” of cotton balls dredged through Vicks Vapor Rub and hung a bunch of those from the lowest branches. So far it’s kept them from even testing it out! You could try rubbing the Vapor Rub along the chord; it smells pretty potently, but I’d think it would taste pretty nasty too.

    And again, as others have said, cats are very individual creatures and there’s no one way that works for all of them. But it sounds like you’ve got a good list of things to try from the other Homies! Good luck! If you discover a way to keep yours off of flat surfaces they’re not supposed to be on (such as, hypothetically, a TV stand) let me know πŸ˜‰

  13. We brought our chronic gnawer a school of soft rubber octopuses from the petshop, removed their squeakers and put a kitty treat in the hole so that she can smell it but not take it out. Every now and then we check the mutilated octopi to make sure they aren’t too damaged, use tweezers to drag out the old treat and put a fresh stinky one back in!

  14. My previous cat liked to chew on my computer cord, and I ended up going through 6 until my partner tried wrapping the cord with electrical tape. That did the trick! Even though it was extremely fugly, the cat stopped chewing on the cord.

  15. Sort of related: cats and munching on house plants. I have discovered that since I put all of my spiky plants (cacti, mini rose, etc.) in the areas where the cat can reach, and all of the non-spiky plants where he can’t reach as well (though some it’s unavoidable), I have noticed a drastic reduction in plant-chewing across the board, even with the couple that are non-spiky that are more easily reachable than I’d like. I dunno if this will work for others, but kitty seems to have worked out that the only plant that he should munch on is the cat grass I put out for him occasionally. So for those with cats who have a habit of destroying house plants, acquiring a few particularly pokey cacti might help. πŸ™‚

  16. I had mixed luck using bitter apple to keep my ferrets from chewing cords. The first one HATED it! Worked like a charm, I think I only had to use it 2-3 times before he learned to leave cords alone. The second ferret…well, she hated it too *but* rather than learning the intended lesson, seemed to think I had poisoned her and she would angrily attack me instead.

    It’s definitely worth a try, but be aware it may not go quite as planned πŸ˜‰ The other suggestions here are great, cord protectors etc.

  17. My cat’s a professional cord-chewer. The sprays etc haven’t really worked. The only bonus is that she forces us to keep everything neat and tidy! We do leave the bedroom closed all the time, so we at least have one space where we can be messy. πŸ˜‰

  18. My oldest cat (15) was a nightmare phone cord chewer as a young cat and he exclusively attacked the curly cord. We needed a new cord for the wall phone daily! He stopped randomly one day and we we’re never sure why but he did. I suspect some kind of static charge and a mouth shock was involved. In any case while he WAS a phone cord destructor we implemented several tactics.

    #1 Get the cord out of reach
    We hung up the phone on the wall and tossed the cord over the mount so it didn’t dangle. In the case of charging cables and other device cords tape it up or hide it. Pinterest has a slew of cheap and easy cord organization ideas that will also deter cats.

    #2 Have a designated spot
    Agreeing with Dootsie Bug (girl you are amazing) here, set up a committed charging station. With our old wall mount phone this just meant we had to stand near the thing to use it. Ahhh the days of having to actually move when the phone rang.

    #3 Don’t let it sway/dangle/or otherwise look attractive
    The more the cord moved the more my cat would eyeball it. I think the mixture of attention the phone got and the movement drew him to frequently cut calls short (he often ate the cord mid call). It looked fun to play with and got him attention in the process because the word “CAT!” would ring throughout the house. He skittered away quickly but always pranced about looking pleased afterward. This may or may not motivate your cat.

    #4 Give the cat an alternative gum massage device (something I’ve learned recently)
    Many cats like massaging their gums. In my house pencil erasers were a favorite, especially when writing. It looks like scent marking but they shove the object in their mouth and rub their gums directly on it sometimes chewing. My boy always leads to chewing but he rubs for a good bit first. Some cats can get this massage by chewing plastic cords. If the cat isn’t directly “attacking to kill” your cords and looks like there is a bit of mouth manipulation and enjoyment going on you might want to look into this. I have a Catit senses activity station with a “massage center” and the boy kitty loves it. I see a lot less big squiggly lines on my pencil written stuff since he always has a thing to chew/massage with and doesn’t need my pencil as much anymore.

  19. Our cat (who chewed on cords – our other 2 didn’t care) grew out of it after he turned 2 or so. We basically started plugging things into really inconvenient spots (behind the couch! In the bathroom with the door closed! Behind the bookcase!) until he grew tired of chewing them.

    Our dog would chew on cords when we first got him and we basically just have to kennel him when we aren’t home (he has stopped chewing cords when we are in the house). Now to work on the holes he keeps digging…

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