cat sitting on sofa

Reduce Temptation; Cat Chewing Done Right

Question:
My cat Bella Lynne is 3years old and she chews on oxygen hoses. I need help.

Dr. Nichol:
Cats are predators who need to stimulate the specialized nerve receptors in their faces. The chewy texture of your oxygen hoses is irresistible to Bella Lynne. Set her up to succeed by making them less appealing while offering a compelling alternative. Ask the butcher for fresh beef or pork bones with tags of meat still attached. Rawhide chews softened in a bowl of water are another feline favorite. Avoid poultry bones, please.

Why not bones of winged species? There are reasons that cows don’t fly. Chickens and turkeys, while selectively bred for human consumption, retain the thin walled bones of their flighted forebears. Cats and dogs have more than adequate jaw strength to crush their skeletons. Swallowing sharp shards can be downright dangerous.

Make your oxygen hoses unfun for chewing by wrapping them in spiral cable wrap, available at local retailers like Wal-Mart.

Christmas can be treacherous. The Nichol family decorates a conifer every December but without tinsel festoons. Regardless of religious significance our cats, Tony and Gaston, believe that if it dangles it’s a cat toy. Swallowed tinsel, yarn, string, or dental floss can get hung up in their intestines and saw holes that leak bacteria. There’s nothing like emergency surgery to put a damper on the holiday spirit.

A fog horn, compressed air, or a water pistol is the tool of choice for many who try to prevent their otherwise good cats from going bad. You can lie in wait like a ninja warrior and then launch a surprise attack on an unsuspecting pussy cat going about her daily business but there is an absence of malice in Bella Lynne’s quasi normal chewing behavior. To effectively startle her out of hose-hunting you would need to bust the crime in progress every single time. Not gonna happen. Scaring Bella Lynne into next week would only damage the bond you have so carefully nurtured.

Invest in kindness by making hoses and cords uninteresting while providing healthy chewing adventures. Never squirt a cat unless she catches fire.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.