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Cat Chews Electric Cords at Risk of Tongue Slough and Electrocution

Food Toys & Cord Covers Bring out the Best

Question:

My cat has a terrible chewing problem.  He chewed through my curling iron cord, leaving exposed wires. He chews the plastic top on my water bottle, the plastic on my shoe laces, my computer and printer cords, and cell phone cords. Is there any type of discipline you recommend? I love the cat but I’m so frustrated.

Dr. Nichol:

Frustrated? You sound positively flummoxed. You’re crashing your hard drive. You might lose control and chew your computer mouse! Step back from the ledge and take a few deep breaths. And don’t punish.

Some cats have unmet behavioral needs; others chew because of chronic nausea from stomach or intestinal disease. Wheat grass can help but kitties who vomit often need a medical workup.

Cats are natural predators; munching on the carcass of their latest kill is inherently rewarding. You can provide your cat with a healthy chewing alternative by loading his daily ration into a variety of food toys and puzzles. He can live the virtual reality of a real hunter by extracting his sustenance like the wild animal he truly is.  Rotate the toys daily to keep it interesting.

Those electric cords would be less compelling if they were painted with Bitter Apple or covered with commercially available cord covers. Specific areas of your house can become off-limits by adding a booby trap like a Ssscat.

I worry about cord chewers. Electric shock to the lips and tongue can cause serious tissue sloughs. Electrocution for some cats results in life-threatening fluid accumulation in their lungs. Unless you have a full-time staff of cat police punishment won’t matter, you can only catch the little rapscallion in the act during a fraction of his felonies. Squirting and yelling would damage your friendship and could trigger defensive aggression in your sweet cat. Instead, do what it takes to make your house such a wonderland of feline amusements that, by comparison, cord chewing would be B-O-R-I-N-G. The full list of environmental enrichments is on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

 

Each week I make a short video or podcast that helps bring out the best in pets. Every Tuesday it will arrive in your email. Sign up at no charge on my website, drjeffnichol.com. I’ll also send you my free Pet Emergency and CPR guide.

 

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.