Q: My 10-month-old kitten chews on all of the cords in my house. She has destroyed my laptop cord and has come close to destroying the cord to my cell phone charger. Is there some way to get her to stop this behavior?
A: Deterrents, substitute chew items, environmental enrichment and dissipating excessive kitten energy will help stop this dangerous behavior.
Start by making the cords unavailable to her by putting them in conduits, wrapping them or spraying them with something distasteful such as Bitter Apple or lemon.
Provide something more appropriate for your kitten to chew and mangle, such as dental health chew toys. You can make the toys more enticing by rubbing a little catnip on them. Make your kitty work for her food by putting dry food or treats in a treat ball – hollow, hard plastic balls containing holes. Your kitty can only access the food by batting and rolling the treat ball in order for the food to come out of the holes.
Engage your kitten in multiple play sessions during the day and evening to help dissipate energy and fight boredom. It is important to play in a way that imitates the hunt. Use a fishing pole toy and pretend that the object on the end of the toy is a wounded animal that is trying to scurry away from a predator. Instead of stopping cold turkey when you are ready to end the play sessions, slow the play down to give her a cool down period. At the end of the cool down session, let her catch the toy and then immediately feed her. Typically, cats will eat, groom and then go to sleep.
Clicker training is another powerful tool that can help modify behaviors. Clicker training is based on positive reinforcement, and it will give her a focus, mentally stimulate her and help build confidence. Unappreciated behaviors melt away because clicker training provides something more stimulating to do.
Hopefully these activities will channel your kitten’s energy, and she will stop chewing dangerous items. If not, talk to your veterinarian. He or she might prescribe a course of medication.