Chewing Kittens

by Melissa R. on February 23, 2011

He looks innocent enough...

He looks innocent enough...

I knew when we got our kittens that there would be some adjustments to make, and that we needed to provide them with scratching areas, toys, etc. And believe me – our cats live in Kitty Heaven! We have not just one but TWO huge cat trees, with plenty of climbing, scratching fun. They use them both quite a lot. We also have several doorknob hanging scratchers.

Anytime we’ve seen them scratching something they aren’t supposed to be – we correct them. We remove them from the situation, and then present a distraction, such as toy. So far it has worked great and our cats do not scratch inappropriate areas.

However, nobody told me CHEWING would be an issue.

Ritter, our youngest cat (he’s almost 1.5 years old), has started chewing on the corners of anything wood. It started a few months ago on the knobs of the dining room chairs. We tried using several types of anti-chew sprays such as Chew Stop, Bitter Apple, and even hot sauce. Didn’t seem to phase Mr. Woodchuck Ritter! He just kept chomping. So, we covered up the chair backs with jackets. It may look funny, but it was the only thing that stopped him! Then, we noticed him chewing other corners. End table corners, the corner of the dresser, the corner of the banister. Pretty much everything has at least one or two chew marks on it now.

Our home is pretty funny looking now: almost every corner or piece of wood in the house is covered with SOMETHING. We’re not slobs, we just have a chewing cat!

I did a bunch of research online about this problem, and found a few suggestions & thoughts:

  • Is it a mal-nutrition issue? Not sure, he eats what everybody else eats and nobody else is chewing. I bought some cat multivitamins we give him each day. At least he likes them!
  • Is he bored? We have so many cat toys we could start our own store! But nonetheless, I went out and bought MORE cat toys.
  • Maybe he needs something to chew like grass. OK, we bought some of the grow-your-own-grass. He does like to mow that down a little each day.

Aside from these few suggestions, I couldn’t find anything hardcore on how to train this out of him. At this point, we just hope he will grow out of it. We try to be sure to spend a good amount of time playing with him when we are home, as I do think perhaps it is a boredom issue. He LOVES to play, and plays constantly all by himself. So maybe he just needs more? I can’t say that I have seen that he has lessened his chewing, as there is no place left uncovered!

Any suggestions or similar stories?

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About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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Rosemary February 23, 2011 at 8:09 am

I have to put my glasses under my pillow at night, because Connor chews on them! I used to leave them on the bed, between our pillows, but he also likes to sleep there, and he chewed on an ear piece one night. I was able to sand down the tooth marks, and they were comfortable enough. But then, one night, he got ahold of them again, and actually chewed on the lenses. Now I need new glasses, because it is very hard to see through the toothmarks. Fortunately, I only have to wear them at night and in the morning when I don’t have my contacts in.

Many years ago, I had a cat named Monster, who also liked glasses. Her favorite ones were my mom’s. One day, Mama’s glasses disappeared, and we search high and low for them. Finally, she had to get a new pair. Several years later, she moved, and found her missing glasses behind the piano, very well chewed.

Currently, my cat Suits chews on the edge of the shower curtain, and Boeing shreds and eats plastic bags. You can imagine the trouble I go through to keep them away from him. Most people down here don’t use reusable shopping bags, and you should see the expression on the sackers’ faces when I pull mine out. I just explain that my cat eats the plastic bags, and leave out the ecology lesson.

Stephanie February 23, 2011 at 8:29 am

Melissa, I can sympathize with you. My young fellow, Tangy, who is an organge tabby is just the same, but he prefers paper. All sorts of paper. Boxes too. I have tried everything with him. I have scolded him and chased him. But I think the more emphasis I put on him stopping the more he does it. I think he thinks it is a game. So now I just let him and I try to ignore him when he is doing it. He has gotten better. Now he finds that nasty old mouse that is sorta made out of hard cardboard and he chews that thing to death. I have to replace them every month. Good Luck!

Greg February 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

Melissa…

Two things come to mind… and the first is, is there a tooth/jaw issue that feels better rubbing shewing… We adopted a rescue who came with no teeth and who got along fine as cats tend to slurp their food with out chewing when in the small bites cat food comes in… this just an FYI in case a problem tooth need to be pulled… .

Two it may be an obsessive behavior from earlier years… we have a cat (kitten) who we found in the crawl space above our bathroom, abandoned by his mother. He and his two other siblings were about 2 weeks old per our vet and Cheri and Deanna bottle fed them through those early weeks… as he grew up and for years he would sit and suck his thumb with passion making slurping sounds as if he was sucking on a teet… recently we got him the outdoor shots and now let him go out regularly and the thumb sucking has virtually stopped, though not entirely gone away…

One last thing and that is we had success with BlueBuffalo dog food with our itchy dogs and reading their ad copy it appears they adhere to natural, though processes, foods… 2-3 times more expensive by weight than the other brands, but may be worth a try…

Just some thoughts
Greg

Jennifer Febel February 24, 2011 at 10:16 am

My Buddah does this ALL the time! But I found a way to make him stop — Vick’s Vaporub! Rub it on anything you don’t want your kitty to chew (i.e., cupboards, wires…etc.). Cats HATE the smell so tend to stay away. If, for some reason, they decide to take a lick the taste is so bad that they foam at the mouth and hyper-salivate. That experience is usually enough to prevent future lickings. I always have a bottle of Vaporub on hand!

Hope this works for you too! 🙂

Melissa February 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions! I will be trying them all. I also picked up a couple new Nature’s Miracle anti-chewing type sprays to try. Hoping something works before our little woodchuck ruins all the furniture. Crazy cat!

Ashley March 24, 2013 at 2:10 am

Please let us know if something works. We have a 9 month old kitten who recently started chewing on anything made of wood and our vertical blinds.

Melissa R. March 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

Ashley – We did find that any number of the anti-chewing items helped. Although we had to keep it pretty fresh on the items he liked to chew. We had to be very on top of that! Also we tried to be more active with him, and tucker him out a bit more. We think he may have been doing it just out of boredom.

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