Why Does My Cat Chew On Everything?

Normal Cat Behavior

Chewing and nibbling is natural cat behavior. Cats have an instinct to chew and nibble on objects as they explore their surroundings. Using their mouth is one of the main ways cats investigate their environment. Satisfying this innate urge provides enrichment. Cats have scent glands in their mouth, so tasting and chewing on items allows them to pick up smells and information [1]

It’s perfectly normal for cats to chew, lick, or nibble on household items. This is an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to explore [1]. Chewing and biting provides mental stimulation and can relieve boredom or stress. Most cats outgrow excessive chewing as kittens as they get older. However, some adult cats continue chewing behaviors.


Kittens start teething at around 3-4 weeks old and continue teething until they are around 6 months old. Just like human babies, kittens teethe to help their adult teeth emerge through sore gums. The pressure in their gums is relieved through chewing behaviors. According to Purina, kittens chew more during teething to relieve this discomfort.

Kittens have 26 deciduous baby teeth that start falling out around 12-16 weeks old. Their 30 adult teeth finish coming in between 5-6 months old. Providing chew toys and treats can help redirect them from chewing on household objects.


Lack of stimulation often leads to destructive chewing behaviors in cats. When cats are not provided with enough mental enrichment and physical activity, they tend to chew on household objects to satisfy their natural instincts to hunt, play, and explore (Source). Bored cats may chew on things like furniture, carpet, plastic, wires, and more as an outlet for their energy.

To curb boredom chewing, it is important to provide your cat with interactive toys that engage their natural prey drive like feather wands, puzzle feeders, treat balls, and catnip toys. Rotating toys helps keep your cat interested. Daily play sessions are also recommended to provide mental and physical stimulation. Providing climbing structures, cat trees, and scratching posts allows cats to climb and scratch appropriately. Ensuring your cat has enough enrichment and activity will reduce problematic chewing behaviors.

Stress and Anxiety

Cats often chew on things as a way to relieve stress and anxiety. The act of chewing releases endorphins that help calm the cat down. Common stressors for cats include changes in their environment or routine, improper socialization, lack of physical and mental stimulation, and conflict with other pets in the home. Identifying and removing or reducing stressors in your cat’s life is an important step in curbing destructive chewing habits.

Look for any recent changes that could be causing anxiety like moving homes, new pets or people, construction noise, etc. Creating a predictable routine, making sure your cat’s basic needs are met, providing enrichment activities, and giving them access to quiet hiding spots can also lower stress levels. Consider using calming pheromone diffusers like Feliway as well. If your cat is showing aggression or other behavioral issues, consult with your vet about anti-anxiety medication or supplements that may help.

It’s important not to punish or startle your cat when catching them chewing, as this can increase anxiety. Redirect the chewing to appropriate toys instead. Overall, addressing the root causes behind your cat’s stress can stop anxious chewing in a humane, positive way.




Attention Seeking

Some cats chew on things to get their owner’s attention. If a cat learns that chewing up the couch or knocking things off tables results in scolding or other engagement from their owner, they may do it more often. Cats naturally crave attention from their owners.

To curb attention-seeking chewing, be sure to provide your cat with frequent positive engagement and affection. Give them designated toys to chew and play with them regularly. Reward and praise good behavior while ignoring unwanted chewing. This reinforces good habits and doesn’t provide the reaction the cat is seeking.

Additionally, examine if your cat has enough enrichment. Make sure they have vertical spaces to climb, scratching posts, food puzzles and rotating toys to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Adequate playtime and environmental enrichment can reduce acting out behaviors.

If attention-seeking is extreme, your cat may be understimulated or stressed. In those cases, speak to your vet about solutions tailored to your cat’s needs.

Dental Pain

Dental pain is one of the most common reasons why cats chew on things. Their teeth and gums can become irritated, infected or painful just like ours. The signs are subtle but chewing and licking behaviors often indicate kitty has sore teeth or gums.

Cats have sharp little teeth that can easily become damaged, inflamed, or infected. Periodontal disease is very common in cats, especially as they age. This causes erosion around the tooth roots, exposing sensitive nerve endings. Chewing or licking provides temporary relief of mouth pain but the problem continues to worsen without treatment.

Take your cat to the vet for a full dental exam if you notice increased chewing behaviors. They will check for dental disease, fractures, retained roots from lost teeth, and other issues causing mouth irritation or discomfort. Professional dental cleanings and extractions are often needed to treat and prevent oral health problems.

Nutritional Deficiencies

One of the most common causes of destructive chewing in cats is a lack of proper nutrients in their diet. When cats don’t get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need, it can lead to a condition called pica where they start chewing or eating non-food items.

According to experts, nutritional deficiencies are a significant contributor to pica in many cats. When a cat’s diet is lacking, they will often seek out and chew on random items trying to get the nutrients their body craves (Dutch, 2022). Pica from deficiency can be dangerous as cats may ingest toxic or indigestible materials while trying to fulfill their needs.

One of the best ways to curb destructive chewing is to feed your cat a high quality diet that provides complete and balanced nutrition. Look for cat foods that have meat or fish as the first ingredient and minimal fillers. Consult with your vet to determine if your cat may benefit from additional supplements or a prescription food to correct any deficiencies (The Honest Kitchen, 2021). Making sure your cat’s nutritional needs are met can go a long way in addressing pica chewing behaviors.

According to experts, switching to a fresh food diet with whole ingredients can often help resolve pica in cats who were lacking key nutrients. Make any dietary changes gradually and monitor your cat to ensure the new diet improves their chewing habits (JustFoodForDogs, 2023). Addressing nutritional deficiencies through an improved diet is usually the first step in stopping destructive chewing.

Digestive Upset

Chewing on random items can sometimes be a sign that your cat is experiencing digestive upset or gastrointestinal issues. According to the experts at Bond Vet, symptoms of digestive problems in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss, and dehydration [1]. Cats may chew on things as a way to relieve nausea or stomach discomfort.

If your cat is chewing on non-food items frequently, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet for a checkup. The vet can check for intestinal parasites, infections, obstructions, or other issues causing tummy troubles. According to PetMD, some at-home remedies like slippery elm bark may help soothe mild stomach upset [2]. However, persistent chewing combined with other symptoms likely warrants medical attention.

You can also try transitioning your cat to a highly-digestible diet formulated for gastrointestinal health, while monitoring their symptoms closely. Feed smaller, more frequent meals and avoid sudden food changes. Make sure your cat always has access to fresh, clean water as well. With vet care and a sensitive stomach diet, digestive upset should resolve.

How to Stop Destructive Chewing

There are several tactics you can try to curb destructive chewing in cats:

Provide chew toys – Give your cat appropriate outlets for their chewing instinct by providing toys made specifically for chewing, like chew sticks or dental toys. Rotate the toys to keep your cat interested. This gives them a safe alternative to chomping on household items.

Use deterrent sprays – Spray cords, furniture, and other off-limit items with bitter apple spray or other pet deterrents. The unpleasant taste teaches cats to avoid chewing those items. Reapply frequently at first.

Restrict access – Keep cats away from vulnerable areas by closing doors, tucking away cords, or placing unwanted objects out of reach. Restricting access interrupts the chewing habit and limits opportunities.

For more tips, see this article from The Spruce Pets.

When to See the Vet

In some cases, destructive chewing in cats warrants a veterinary visit. Here are some signs it’s time to see the vet:

Rapid Increase in Chewing: A sudden spike in chewing behavior, especially on non-food items, could signal an underlying medical issue. These include dental disease, nutritional deficiencies, or gastrointestinal problems. Consult your vet if chewing escalates quickly.

No Change After Addressing Causes: If your cat continues relentlessly chewing despite efforts to relieve boredom, anxiety, teething, etc., a vet visit is a good idea. Persistent destructive chewing may indicate chronic pain or illness. Your vet can pinpoint potential sources through a physical exam and diagnostic testing.

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