Why Kittens Chew On Things — And How to Help Prevent It

Kitten chewing on jeans
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Kittens between the ages of 3 and 6 months often chew fabric because they are teething. The best way to prevent chewing is to keep chewable items out of reach.

Some people may argue that puppies can chew like beavers, but many people forget that kittens can chew, too. Chewing not only damages household goods but can potentially injure your kitten.

Why Kittens Chew

Like babies and puppies, kittens tend to put objects in their mouths as a means of exploring and playing. They may chew because they are teething or just because it's fun. Some kittens chew out of boredom. Of course, they chew many innocuous items, but they can also chew items we don't want them to — most often electrical cords, houseplants, leather objects, clothing or shoes.

Dangerous Items to Keep Away From Your Kitten

1. Electrical cords.  Electrical cords are one of the more dangerous things your kitten can chew. And even though it's not as dangerous, a chewed-through phone cord is pretty annoying. Cords look enticingly like strings and even make satisfying noises when batted about. Your first line of defense is to cover the cords. You can buy presplit hollow tubing or make some yourself to put over cords. In places where cords cannot be covered, make the area around them unappealing by covering it with two-sided tape or aluminum foil, both of which are unpleasant for cats to stand on. You can also buy motion-detecting devices made just for cats. These devices emit a harmless but annoying spray of water or compressed air and a high-pitch alarm. As for the cords, spray them with a bitter-tasting cat-deterring spray available from your veterinarian or pet supply store. Since cats are pretty particular about taste, such sprays tend to be effective.

2. Houseplants.  Houseplants are a natural enticement for many cats and kittens. But they, too, can be harmful. Some, like cacti, are dangerous mainly because they are pointy. Others, like amaryllis, c aladium, Easter lily, dieffenbachia, ivy (some varieties), mistletoe, philodendron and poinsettia can cause illness ranging from mild vomiting to serious vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, kidney failure or worse. Check your plants' possible toxicity and consider getting rid of anything that might harm your cat. If there are dangerous plants you simply cannot part with, place them well out of reach of your pet or use the same precautions you did with cords: Make the areas around them unappealing to stand on or place motion detectors with alarms around them. If you feel compelled to offer greens to your cat, choose something you know is safe. You can buy preseeded boxes of cat-safe greenery or make your own window box with wheatgrass and catnip.

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