Chewing - It's Not Just a Canine Thing
While everyone knows that puppies can chew like beavers, many people are surprised to find that kittens can chew like piranhas. Chewing not only damages household goods but can potentially injure your kitten.
Like babies and puppies, kittens tend to put objects in their mouth 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 electric cords, houseplants, leather, clothing, or rubber shoes.
Electric cords are one of the most 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 pre-split hollow tubing or make some yourself to place over cords. In places where cords cannot be covered, make the area around them as 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 and a high-pitched alarm. As for the cords, spray them with a bitter cat-deterring flavor available from your veterinarian or pet supply store. Since cats are pretty particular about taste, they are very effective. Even spray-on human deodorant or cheap perfume will work to dissuade most cats.
Houseplants are a natural enticement for cats and kittens. But they, too, can be dangerous. Some, like cacti, are dangerous just because they are pointy. Others, like maryllis, caladium, creeping Charlie, Easter lily, dieffenbachia, ivy, mistletoe, philodendron, and poinsettia can cause mild to serious vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse or kidney failure. Always check your plant's possible toxicity and place dangerous plants out of reach, or better, get rid of them. For your other plants that you wish to rescue, place them out of reach or use the same precautions you did with cords: make the area around them unappealing to stand on, place motion detectors with alarms around them, or spray them with unsavory pet-deterring sprays. But don't expect your cat to go without his vegetables. Instead, give your cat a safe source of greens to chew on. You can buy pre-seeded boxes of cat-safe greenery, or make your own window box with wheat grass and catnip.
When fabric, leather or rubber chewing occurs in kittens between the ages of 3 and 6 months, it's often associated with teething. As new teeth come in, they make the gums uncomfortable. Chewing relieves that discomfort. Again, the best defense is putting chewable items out of reach, and spraying those you can't move or hide with bad tasting spray. But you must also provide something else for your kitten to chew. Look for chewable soft toys---one cheap favorite is a large plastic drinking straw, which is both fun to chew and to play with. Another is a baby carrot---often the tinier the better. Even lettuce can provide a cool crunchy chew item. Some dog treats, such a rawhide soaked in meat or tuna juice, can provide an enticing alternative. Freeze wet cat food or special treats into cubes that can be doled out for the cat to chew and lick. True, cats aren't crazy about cold food, but they will often make the exception if it's tasty enough---or if they have a strong enough urge to chew.
Kittens may also chew out of boredom. Be sure to give your kitten plenty of interactive play time, and when you can't be with him, bring out a couple of interactive cat toys that release tiny food treats when he manipulates them. Make sure your kitten gets lots of active play and exercise. A tired kitten is a kitten who is too tired to chew!
Some older kittens may suckle on certain fabrics, particularly wool. This may be a result of a combination of early weaning and genetics, and may even manifest itself as an obsessive-compulsive behavior.