Why Cats Chew on Things
Destructive chewing in cats is a behavior that is far easier to prevent than to correct. To prevent destructive chewing behaviors from developing, pet owners should provide their cats with a fun and stimulating environment, provide teething kittens with plenty of chewy toys, and address any obsessive compulsive chewing with medication and behavioral modification techniques.
Chewing in Kittens
Chewing is very common in teething kittens. Their gums are sore, and chewing is the only way to relieve the pain. Kittens should only be permitted to chew on toys, however. Ignoring chewing of furniture, wires, or other household items can cause the behavior to continue past the teething stage. Bring home a variety of toys in various textures to give a kitten plenty of options. If the kitten seems disinterested in the toys, try rubbing catnip on them to stimulate interest.
Some kittens will chew on items that smell like their owners. This is often an indication that the cat was separated from its mother too early in life. This can be overcome by socializing the cat to help build confidence. A second cat is often very useful in these households, as that cat can teach mature, grown-up cat behavior much better than a human can.
Chewing in Adult Cats
Most cats outgrow chewing once they mature and their adult teeth come in. If an adult cat suddenly starts chewing on inappropriate things for no apparent reason, it could signal boredom. Inside-only cats should have places of their own in the house where they can climb, jump, and scratch without fear of punishment. Plenty of toys should be made available, as well, and new toys should be introduced into the home on a regular basis. Moving or hiding the cat’s toys, and periodically moving climbing posts around the house, can also help to prevent boredom.
To further distract the cat, purchase cat-friendly grasses from your local pet store and place them next to the wires or furniture where the cat likes to chew. These grasses can give the cat much more satisfaction than a piece of plastic or fabric, and may take their attention away from chewing the inappropriate objects.
Deterring Chewing in Cats
If an adult cat continues to chew even though you’ve provided plenty of stimulation and cat-friendly options, it will be necessary to take other measures to deter the behavior. Spraying an offensive-smelling substance in the areas where a cat chews can be extremely effective. There are several smells that cats dislike that won’t offend the rest of the household.
- Biter apple spray – available at most pet stores
- Cayenne pepper and water
- Orange oil – mix one part orange oil with three parts water
Possible Medical Issue - Chewing a Sign of OCD?
In some cases, cats with obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) will develop chewing disorders. Most cases of OCD in cats require medication in order to calm the symptoms and unwanted behaviors. Only a veterinarian can determine whether or not a cat truly has OCD, so instead of attempting to medicate your cat with herbs or home remedies, schedule a checkup to ensure a proper diagnosis.