A Big No!
Pet care is synonymous with child care and is equally demanding for parents. Among pets, Cats are the most pamper-seeking ones, infused with princess syndrome in every inch of their adorable furs. As much as they love your cuddling, their teeth can be feral at times — Right?
Are you planning to adopt a cat for the first time and are a bit worried looking at your friend’s cat that seems to have gone a little wild?
Well, there is a reason why cats are called felines. Chewing is also a part of their feline exercise, playful instincts, and natural curiosity.
Do you find gnawed corners of wooden furniture, frayed edges of toys, and scratched corners of even your electronics? Are you at your wits end with your kitty’s chewing?
If you want to know, whether it is a normal behavioral pattern or a physical problem, or a psychological issue, you are all set to get the right answers along with the preventive measures.
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Why Is It Abnormal For Cats To Grind The Corners?
If you find your cat grinding the corners of electronics and furniture – the first step, of course, is to take the cat to the veterinarian for a thorough physical check-up.
If the Vet says that your cat does not suffer from any common physical ailments, then the cause can be a mental health condition called Pica.
Sometimes you may wonder, why they have to chew on other things despite feeding them every day with their favorite food.
For all their lordly attitudes, cats at times fail to differentiate between safe and unsafe inedible things to play with or chew at.
But, there are prevalent cases when this chewing at inedible things becomes worrisome for the parents of these furry bundles of joy. At a glance, it may seem like a burst of energy in their playful mood.
Yet, as a vigilant parent, you must observe keenly the patterns and abnormalities in their behavior.
Chewing may be an instinct for cats but can grow addictive and life-threatening at the same time. Pica is a term used in the study of psychological disorders.
It is identified through certain similar traits and symptoms of behaviors in both humans and animals. Children between 1-6 or kittens within 2 years are more susceptible to Pica.
How to Identify Pica?
The most prominent feature of this psychological condition is a compulsive habit of eating things that are not food or items that have no nutritive value or are even harmful to health.
When you begin to find frayed pieces and gnawed corners of furniture, laptops, mobiles, etc., and even swallowed bits of them – it sure is a serious warning bell for these cats and pet lovers.
The compulsive traits are —
- Kittens begin swallowing torn pieces of grocery bags, shreds of cloth, and tiny pebbles.
- In extreme cases, they begin to chew like an addict on the corners of hardwood or sharp edges of walls, cupboards, cots, corners of televisions, laptops, music systems, etc.
Symptoms of Pica in Cats
Only through close observation, Pet owners can differentiate between the natural feline instinct to chew and the Pica symptoms.
While it is normal for kitties to chew and tear at things playfully, the ones suffering from Pica begin to –
- grind the object with their back molars or corners of very hard objects obsessively and then even swallow the bits and pieces.
- seek out objects from every hidden nook and corner earlier considered inaccessible to them.
- aggressively pounce on unsafe things and seem addicted to ingesting unexpected things.
What Are The Conditions That Make Cats Prone To Pica?
The three possible reasons for kittens to be susceptible to this mental disorder are –
1. Genetically Susceptible
Many breeds of pet cats are recognized by global organizations. The International Cat Association (TICA), the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), etc. Each breed has certain distinctive traits that differentiate them from others.
So, if you want to add a cat to your family, you have 42 standardized recognized breeds to choose from.
Among these breeds, experts have found that the DNA of oriental breeds like Tonkinese, Burmese, Siamese, etc, or their crossbreeds are more prone to Pica.
It can set in as early as 3 months and often outgrow it before or by the age of 2 years if treated and given relevant care.
2. Case History of Health
Dietary deficiency after birth also can trigger Pica. Also, if the kittens are weaned too young, they may suffer problems in mental health.
3. Traumatic Experience or Stress
Cats are born attention lovers or seekers. So, leaving them alone for very long bouts of time may create a subconsciously stressful condition for them. An accident or being undernourished at an early age may leave a traumatic scar on their consciousness.
The consequence of these conditions may also lead to lifetime compulsive disorders and medications. Sure you don’t want that, right?
When Do Cats Normally Begin To Chew Plastic Things?
If you find that chewing has turned into a compulsive or uncontrollable behavior it is high time you take action.
Take your kitty to a Veterinarian.
But still, as parents, you must also have an idea of the possible reasons for such behaviors. Isn’t it?
The most common reason that Cats begin to earnestly chew and tear unsafe things like mobiles, corners of low-wall mounts, bookshelves made of plastic or wood, etc., is Teething.
An adult cat has a set of 30 teeth. The first set of deciduous teeth begins to bud as early as 3 weeks in kittens. The teething phase of the secondary set completes in 6-7 months.
Both times the young kitties show symptoms of –
- Excessive drooling
- Gnawing at whatever corners and shape edges are accessible
- Bleeding of gums
- Tender mouth, etc.
The reason for such symptoms is the pressure exerted on the roots of deciduous teeth when the adult teeth are budding. The pressure stimulates the roots to reabsorb the old teeth and make way for the secondary ones.
So, the irritating, unfamiliar sensation in the gums may compel the kittens to gnaw at corners of hard surfaces to relieve the itchiness.
Pet lovers must pay special attention when their little fur balls are teething. While trying to chew sharp edges they may accidentally break their deciduous teeth.
This may result in infection, pain, and also disruption in the development of the adult tooth. So, the broken pieces have to be removed with the help of a veterinarian.
2. Physical Ailments
Many times, we may find cats jumping on things and obsessively trying to tear or chew on corners despite our efforts to stop them.
The reasons for such worrisome changes in conduct can also be — dietary deficiency or some problem in the GI tract.
(a) Deficiency In Diet
Most vets predict the deficiency of fibers in the daily diet of the cats as the reason for the four-pawed gnaw on tea-table corners, edges of chairs or TV, or other shredded things like bends of foam sofa.
In natural surroundings, cats get their required dose of fiber when they hunt and eat live things. But the home food provided may lack those essential fibers, compelling them to bite things due to natural cravings.
Thus due to a neglected diet, there can also be other nutrient or supplementary deficiencies.
(b) GI Tract Problems
Gastrointestinal problems also can cause cats to behave abnormally. The GI tract includes all the organs and tubular parts of the digestive system.
Felines often are not expressive of discomfort unless it is extreme and show consequent reactions like biting or gnawing things uncontrollably, refusing food, longer sleeping time, vomiting, and coughing.
Parents of pets must lookout for changes or problems with their bowel movements. The GI problems can range from intestinal parasites to intestinal blockage or some inflammatory issues.
But, the discomfort of these ailments and the inability to understand it can result in the reflex actions of chewing things.
Interesting Read: Why Is My Cat Sniffing Everything All Of A Sudden?
What Are The Hazards Of Cats Chewing Non-Edible Things?
First and foremost, the bits or pieces of inedible things ingested will cause fatal blockage in the GI tract and require immediate surgery costing around $1000.
The gnawing at corners of electronic gadgets may inadvertently expose them to live wires or electrical connections and cause burns around the mouth or other parts or worse the cat will get electrocuted causing lung or heart damage. Cats also may get entangled and choke.
The gnawing of things during teething may cause broken deciduous tooth which has to be professionally extracted and hence incur uncalled expenses.
Precautions To Save Cats From Chewing Corners Of Unsafe Things
The universal wise words hold true even in this case – Prevention is Better than Cure. It definitely saves unwanted expenses too.
If we think from the perspective of pet cats, their life can easily turn monotonous with daily eating 3 meals, staying in the house the whole day, and playing with only one person or the same sparkly softballs.
Imagine if we had to live such a life every day of our lives. They are also inherently curious beings with a fair amount of intelligence. So naturally, they also need interaction, change, and creative life.
The Burmese or Siamese cats show Pica before their 1st birthday. The best preventive measure hence, to keep our furry felines of any breed away from Pica is to keep them engaged all the time.
- Provide them with the luxury of a safe space with inaccessible plastic or electrical low-wall connections or other sharp-edged furniture, decor, or other electronics within their reach.
- Keep them happy with an enriching life of safe toys with different colors, sizes, and shapes. Keep rotating the variety of toys at regular intervals to keep their curiosity active.
- For eg., a birdhouse or aquarium in a safe place but within the line of sight of kitties keeps them engaged for hours.
- Enrich your cat’s life with ample interactive playtime with you or in turns with all members of the family to keep it excited.
- Keep a record of all health issues and changing patterns as the cat grows, and always keep a lookout for abnormal symptoms. Timely diagnosis and action is the also good preventive measure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What measures can be taken if my cat is diagnosed with Pica or is teething?
If Pica is identified and the chewing is uncontrollable, keep rubber toys spread at various places around the space it lives in.
Try installing special rubber or other safe covers on the edges and corners.
When kittens are teething try the bitter spray available in cat shops on corners of furniture, chords, or other surfaces to discourage the felines from gnawing or sucking unsafe things.
How do I assure a safe space for my Kitty?
The best solution can be to provide a separate room with enough water, food, toys, healthy temperature, a litter pan, and a huge safe window to watch out.
What is the best way to train a cat?
Clicker training also helps in improving behavioral patterns.
The Pet owner will click on the hand-held device when the kitty behaves as desired followed by a treat.
This training helps the cat to associate a particular activity or behavior with a positive experience.
So, cats chewing the corners is dangerous when it begins to look like an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and causes damage to themselves along with the inedible things around.
All in all, when you decide to adopt pets they bring joy and become an inseparable part of your family. Especially cats compel us to treat them like the prince(s) and princesses. Isn’t it? Just pay attention to the above symptoms and take care of all the preventive measures.
Well then, go ahead and become proud pet parents to these adorable furry cuties by baby-proofing your house as you do for your kids and be always patient, kind, and observant.