Just so you know

I knew there was a reason I hated cats. The one we’ve got is a Luddite.

She’s been busily chewing through and clawing computer cables. Earlier this week, she destroyed the phone—while I was on it. She saw me talking to someone, there was this lovely dangling cord, so she leapt up, snagged it, tore the base from the wall and smashed it on the floor, and left me standing there holding a disconnected handset to my ear.

Last night was the final straw. She managed to discover our wireless router, climbed up to the high shelf where it was located, and threw it down to the ground. It looks OK superficially, the little green light comes on, but now none of our computers can find a signal from it, so it seems to be dead.

That’s right. This cat has been methodically demolishing all telecommunications from the Myers household. I’m using my iPad and its 3G connection to send out this last desperate plea for help…before she comes for it, too.

Anyway, this is a problem. I usually put up a series of blog posts before I head off to work, but that’s not an option today. Blame the cat.

I’m going off to the Twin Cities this weekend with my wife, who has a professional meeting there, and I’m going to pick up a new router while I’m there. Also, I think, a couple of squirt bottles. Anyone know if they make iron shackles that fit cats? Something crude and low-tech would be appropriate.

Anyone who lives in a log cabin and hates technology and doesn’t believe in phones and cables and wires want to adopt a cat?


  1. says

    By the way, this really is personal. She destroyed the router last night just as I was getting online with David Smalley and Aron Ra to do the Dogma Debate podcast. If you listen to their upcoming show and hear them wondering what happened to me in the first minute of the discussion…it was the cat.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    And all the youngsters in the audience are wondering: Your phone has a “dangling cord”?

  3. Tualha says

    Dear Professor Myers,

    I have lived in a log cabin in the past, though I am living elsewhere at this time. I detest all modern technology and there are no phone lines or computer equipment in my living quarters (I am typing this on communal equipment).

    Your cat seems to share my values, as well as my approach to dealing with technology, and I would be willing to adopt her. Please email me back if you are interested.

    Theodore J. Kaczynski

  4. Doubting Thomas says

    Wait, you have a phone with a cord? We give those away at the thrift store. Who is the ‘Luddite’ again?

  5. sawells says

    The phones with the dangling cords have the advantage that the handset isn’t going to go dead on you if the conversation lasts more than twenty minutes.

    And the disadvantage of giving your evil cat a weak point to attack.

    Swings and roundabouts.

  6. Jeff K says

    Both our cats are climbers. I’ve found creating high status spots helps to keep them from climbing where I don’t want them to, most of the time. 3M makes a super strong double sided tape, that might help, if you can’t put the router in a place where kitty can’t get to.

    This link has some good advice:


    Clapping loudly works for our ‘fraidy cat, but the male just looks at you like there’s something wrong with your head.

  7. Dunc says

    I’d be more worried about what she’s going to do after she’s disabled all communications and you can no longer call for help.

  8. unbound says

    I knew there was a reason I hated cats.

    Therein lies the issue. The cat knows you hate her, so she’s trying to educate you that you need to love her and only her. Embrace the kitty or you will feel her wrath…

  9. says

    Try a dab of hot sauce on the cords. A light dab and the cat will sniff it and leave it the hell alone! Worked wonders on every cat I’ve owned.

  10. Larry says

    A new excuse for school kids everywhere when they don’t turn in their homework assignments: the cat destroyed our router (and I couldn’t get to Wikipedia or Google)

  11. says

    “Anyone who lives in a log cabin and hates technology and doesn’t believe in phones and cables and wires want to adopt a cat?”
    Translation: Any luddite who reads my blog, please adopt my cat.

    Suggestion: I know a cat that drastically changed its hunting habits, when a roomba arrived home.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    The phones with the dangling cords have the advantage that the handset isn’t going to go dead on you if the conversation lasts more than twenty minutes.

    Or when the power goes out.

    Yeah, yeah, we all have mobiles now. Except those who don’t. Or those who still insist on taking only landline numbers for official purposes.

  13. Ogvorbis: Apologies Available for All! says

    PZed, your cat is attempted to prevent you disseminating anti-cat propaganda. An incredibly effective agent for the SoCUaE* has taken up residence in your house.

    You are doomed.

    * Society of Cats United and Exalted

  14. Seize says

    Unless you want to smear Tabasco on all your cables (and risk that your cat likes spicy food and will consider this an enticement), I would make a few modifications to your living space to avoid this kind of bad behavior. Cats like to be able to traverse entire rooms without touching the floor, and since cables are usually on the floor, making space for her on top of high bookshelves or cabinet-tops and putting nice things up there like catnip simply separates cat from destruction substrates. Also, make sure she has stringy toys if she likes stringy things — but keep them away from the cords and scent them with catnip or associate them with treat-giving so that she thinks they are the higher-quality dangly item and leaves the boring telecommunications equipment alone.

  15. says

    PZ, look for some stuff called “Phooey,” which is decent at spraying cables that you don’t want to touch. It’s extremely bitter, it sticks to your hands, and punishes you just as much as it punishes the cat… but the stuff works.

  16. teejaykay says

    Could be worse. Could be rats. Much of our wires, computer equipment, small spaces are protected with duct tape, garden hose (taped), pizza boxes (taped against this or that space) and such measures. Doesn’t stop them from catapulting themselves from jumping through our DVD collection from three feet away and coming back as if to say “What? I’m a rat.” Sadly, no sprays we’ve tried have worked, so now I’m happily sitting on a sofa that has been assaulted with teeth from hell.

    Cats are much higher on the evil curve, though. You’re doomed, sir.

  17. Rip Steakface says

    What surprises me even more than having a corded phone is having a landline at all. Why the hell would you have a landline? Cell phones provide all that a landline can do and more, so you can save a few bucks by canceling your landlines.

  18. sqlrob says

    Try a dab of hot sauce on the cords. A light dab and the cat will sniff it and leave it the hell alone! Worked wonders on every cat I’ve owned.

    We had a cat that loved spicy things, so that wouldn’t have worked for her.

    Luckily, none of ours have ever been real cable chewers, yell at them a few times and they learn. Although we currently have a drooling cat that likes to sleep on power strips :-/

  19. Sastra says

    Gee, you make the offer sound so tempting…

    That’s the thing about cats (and dogs, too, for that matter) — there is a wide range of personalities and behaviors. Almost all cats are playful and like to jump and explore, especially if they’re young. But some cats are more so. Much more. And they can get destructive.

    I’ve owned my fair share of cats and so far not one of them has approached anything like what you’re experiencing. It’s not that I knew how to properly protect my cables and precious objects. It’s that chewing and knocking things over just never seemed to occur to them.

    Of course, I did try to select whichever kitten or cat seemed ‘calmest’ (or guide my children in that direction.)’ Warm and friendly are danger signs. I want a quiet, aloof, lazy cat who spends most of their time sleeping and gazing around and could pretty much take me or leave me. Elderly, if possible.

    The only absolute requirement is peeing in the litter box. That one is a deal breaker. I will work with a miscreant for at most 6 months: after that, I find a friend with a nice barn. So it could be worse. Getting the scent of cat piss out of a wall-to-wall carpet is a nightmare.

  20. says

    The spicy cables won’t work. I like to douse my food liberally with sriracha.

    After dinner, she likes to climb up on my lap and lick the plate clean. (Actually, she’d like to do that during dinner, but I do have to draw the line somewhere.)

  21. erick says

    “I was getting online with David Smalley and Aron Ra to do the Dogma Debate podcast. ”

    DOGma? Well there’s your problem.

  22. says

    @10 Dunc: I’d be more worried about what she’s going to do after she’s disabled all communications and you can no longer call for help.

    This. Fear the cat. Despite my ‘nym, I don’t like cats especially much. I don’t dislike them, and I’ll pet one if it’s near me, but I don’t like their sniny claws in my lap (it makes me tense, which is mondo baddo for my back pain) or their habit of using urine as an indicator of disapproval. The ex-partner who gave me the ‘nym said that it made perfect sense, as most cats don’t like other cats either.

    @2 Reginald Selkirk: And all the youngsters in the audience are wondering: Your phone has a “dangling cord”

    I would like at this point to be all cool despite being old, and say “Yes, you should unplug the charger at both ends before you talk on it, dude”, but in reality, I just nodded, a) because like PZed I too, am old, and b) because my only phone…it has a cord. More than one. It has the twisty dangly cord from handset to phone, and the long straight cord that lets me walk around my apartment with it.

    In my defence, I don’t get out much because of my disability and self-employment in a work-at-home job, and my partner lives in another country so I need the mondo-cheapest LD plan ever, and with my provider (which also provides my Internet, the lifeline from which I hang), that’s the unlimited North American for $25 a month. And it only comes on the dangly-cord phones. I had a cordless, but I can’t afford a good one, and the cheap ones are almost always picking up other crap because the channels are overused and the phones overpowered (speaks the old military communicator – frequency allocation is important in the modern world!).

    So a Luddite I remain, sans mobile and tethered to a wall.

    At least my laptop’s got wireless. But it has a crap battery, so it has to stay powered all the time, meaning I never get to take it away from, y’know…the wall.

    All in all it’s got me…tethered right to The Wall.

    She said, establishing her Old Person cred.

  23. Chie Satonaka says

    My favorite cat destruction story is when my first cat, Maxwell Smart, managed to tape himself playing with a feather toy on my answering machine. He filled the tape with little rustling and breath sounds. Then two days later he ate through the cord and killed it for good. That’s when I decided to switch to voicemail.

  24. Joey Maloney says

    As it happens, my cats destroyed a 3 TB backup drive this morning. They were playing the chasing game which involves running all around the house including under my desk where all the cables dangle. My one-eyed kitty misjudged as she will, got tangled, and the hard drive fell 3 feet onto the parquet floor. It now makes sad ticking sounds when you power it up.

  25. Pteryxx says

    Why the hell would you have a landline? Cell phones provide all that a landline can do and more, so you can save a few bucks by canceling your landlines.

    Lots of us in rural areas have landlines because cell phones don’t get signal out here; landlines are more reliable than cell towers or internet infrastructure when the power goes out; and often the ONLY internet access of any kind is dial-up, especially for the rural poor.

    The lack of access continues to hamper rural Americans in particular. About 14.5 million rural Americans — or 23.7% of 61 million people living in rural areas — had no fast Internet service offered for their homes. In contrast, only 1.8% Americans living in non-rural areas — 4.5 million out of 254.9 million — had no broadband access. The FCC categorizes an Internet service as “broadband” if it transmits at a speed of at least 4 megabits per second.

    The report’s ranking of states again underscored the correlation between broadband access and economic productivity. Economically struggling states fared worse than more thriving areas of the country. West Virginia had the least amount of access, with 45.9% of the state without broadband access. Montana (26.7%), South Dakota (21.1%) and Alaska (19.6%) followed.

    But the access issue for rural Americans wasn’t isolated to the states with few large cities. In California, more than 35% of rural residents couldn’t order a broadband account even if they wanted it.


    Affordable broadband service through hard wiring and or cellular phone coverage could revolutionize life in rural parts of the country. People could pay bills, shop and visit doctors online. They could work from home and take college classes.

    Increasingly, interacting with certain branches of government can be done only online. And sometimes, a lack of cellphone or e-mail access can have serious consequences. Emergency alerts regarding severe weather, for example, are often sent only through text or e-mail.

    All of that is important, certainly. But here in Clarke County, where churches and taxidermy shops line the main roads and drivers learn early to dodge logging trucks hauling pine trees, most people would simply like to upload photos of their children to Facebook.

    “Ninety-five percent of the people in this county who want public water can have it, but people can’t even talk to each other around here,” said Sharon Jones, 60, who owns a small logging company with her husband and lives just outside Coffeeville.

    It took her three days to try to arrange a meeting with the governor 150 miles away in Montgomery because such inquiries cannot be made over the phone and she had to drive 45 minutes to her daughter’s house to use e-mail.


    Where I am we’ve been trying for ten years or more to get some sort of broadband out here. The cable company won’t touch it and we can’t even get DSL because it’s not profitable. Thanks to the big providers and piracy paranoia it’s illegal for small towns to set up their own public networks. There used to be a government grant for getting access to rural areas but that expired years ago and orphaned the lone tower here. That just leaves unreliable, expensive, contract-ridden satellite. I regularly write emails keeping the pressure on various websites to ensure they stay accessible to dial-up visitors. (Remember when I asked for FTB comment threads to cap at 500 per page? Yeah.) And that’s why I browse with ads, plugins, and even images blocked; because one pop-up ad can stall my page loading for ten minutes or more, and one autoplay video can crash my connection.

    It’s worse for the poor (read: black) areas of town. There’s one stretch of street where the better-off side is just within the region that gets cable access, but the black side is out of range. The closest place that has wireless is the local McDonald’s.

    Yeah, I take it personally when folks dismiss dial-up. <_<

  26. karmacat says

    I have 2 rabbits. Fortunately, one doesn’t chew on cords. The other ones has cost me multiple cords, portable heater, fans. I use different long plastic tubes (cut lengthwise) to protect the cables. It takes the rabbit a while to get through the protective tubes. It is a pain if you have a lot of cords.

  27. says

    I should mention – I am urban, I live in a city of 500k people, and in support of what Pteryxx said, yes, there are lots of us who don’t have cellphones, because food and shelter are more important to me, and Internet access keeps me ticking over by providing work and entertainment both, and because I usually have a “personal entertainment” budget outside my Internet of about $25/month, and so buying a smart phone would cost me several months’ money, and having a data plan of any use would take up the rest by a long shot, because I’m living the high life on welfare, waiting to see if they’ll accept my disability claim.

    Crankiness indeed. Maybe not everyone has your privilege level? Maybe. Maybe even some people here.


  28. OptimalCynic says

    Cats are much higher on the evil curve [than rats], though. You’re doomed, sir.

    Aargh, now our rats have taken that as a personal challenge… fortunately they’re all stuffed with birthday cake so I’ve got a few hours grace.

  29. Russell Glasser says

    Spicy spray may not work, but Bitter Yuck will.
    The biggest downside to this is that it will make the nearby air taste nasty for a few minutes.

    If you’re willing to invest a little extra time, many electronics stores carry cable sleeves.
    They come in three varieties that I know of: wrap around plastic, “Chinese finger trap” stuff, and a plastic tube thing that is slitted along the side.

  30. David Marjanović says

    Comments 18 and 26 sound like they’re on to something.

    Anyone who lives in a log cabin and hates technology and doesn’t believe in phones and cables and wires want to adopt a cat?

    Well, sure, but they’re not reading a blog… comment 5 apparently excepted… :-)

    The phones with the dangling cords have the advantage that the handset isn’t going to go dead on you if the conversation lasts more than twenty minutes.

    That’s what Skype is for.

  31. says

    PZ, I used a squirt bottle of water, or a party balloon pump if I didn’t want to wet the surrounding books, to train the cats not to climb screens. Compressed air is also a great deterrent, as it makes a scary noise to go with the blast. Of course, you have to be there and watching the cat.

    In defense of phones with cords:

    I keep one plugged in to an outlet so that when the power goes out, someone can call the power company to report the outage. We do have cellphones, but they are only used for emergencies in our family, at least until we get around to shopping for better ones. Yes, a power outage is an emergency, but the people with cell phones aren’t always home, and I don’t have one. Besides, if there’s a power outage of more than a day or two, how do you recharge the cell phones?

    Medium-sized town, Southern California, Santa Ana winds off and on especially in summer and fall, so we do have outages. Also when some nitwit drives their SUV into a power pole, or a squirrel misjudges a jump, or a pigeon lands wrong, or…

  32. noxiousnan says

    I recently discovered a show called My Cat From Hell, and recommend an episode or two. Sounds like your router found some serious competition for high space.

    The guy on the show, Jackson, says cats are tree or bush dwellers and usually want to perch above and look down, and they like flow, where they can move around a room without ever touching the ground. He also exhausts them with play and has a bird on a wire toy that drives them mad. I’ll be crafting one soon, and I think I’ll try my hand at some kitty towers too.

  33. says

    Yeah, cell phone access is spotty out here. It varies even within my house; sometimes when I get a call, it wobbles in and out and I have to wander around looking for a signal. Too often that means walking out to the end of my driveway (which is going to be great come February).

    Also, my cell phone simply does not work at all at work. Combining a feeble signal with a big steel framed building that is essentially a Faraday cage means I fortuitously don’t have to worry about getting interrupted by a ringing phone in the middle of lecture, ever.

    Somebody should realize that Morris is now the perfect setting for a creepy slasher movie.

  34. Alverant says

    My cat, Pepi, likes to chew cords too. Fortunately she has restricted herself to really think cords like the kind you find on window shades, the string on Da Bird cat toy, and the rubber cord on those plastic document storage folders you find at Office Depot. So far no electrical or computer cords.

  35. Rey Fox says

    Note: People around here (like the folks on dialup in this thread) don’t like embedded Youtube videos, which unfortunately happens automatically when you paste a Youtube link directly into the comment field. If you want to link one, please put it in an html link.

    <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/whatever”>click here</a>

    Also to #36: That was not funny.

  36. 24fps says

    Try Grannick’s Bitter Apple – it works for us on thing dogs and cats may chew or claw. When my cats were young, I had stashes of water pistols around the house so that I could discourage bad behaviour like clawing, getting on tables and counters, picking on the old cat, etc, quickly and without much warning.

  37. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    There is a simple solution to your kitty problem–

    get a second cat.

  38. maddog1129 says

    My cat is allowed in the garage, and in only one room in the house (my — her — room). that’s it. For everything else, there’s the great outdoors.

  39. wondering says

    Just to add to the chorus of cranky land line users:

    – One land line is considerably cheaper than a cell phone or smartphone plus plan per household member. I honestly don’t understand how dropping a land line in favour of a cell phone makes financial sense when there is more than one person in the house. Maybe everyone has the cheapest possible phone that they don’t update that are all used sparingly and pay-as-you-go? I know that Canada has some of the most expensive cell phone plans in the world, but is the difference that great everywhere else?

    – We live in a somewhat rural area. It’s essential for us to have a working phone after the power goes out.

    – I don’t actually want people to be able to interrupt me whenever is convenient to them. Only having a land line is usually considered an acceptable excuse for being out of constant contact. If I had a cell phone, people would be irritated if I didn’t respond immediately. As it is, I rarely answer the home phone when it rings, either because I’m not home, or because I’m busy, or not in the mood to talk on the phone. Yes, I screen my calls. Apparently that is the height of rudeness. :-)

    Are there times when a cell would be convenient? Of course. But they don’t outnumber the ways in which they would be inconvenient to me. Getting other people to make plans in advance and then stick to the plans is the biggest problem, and I deal with that by always carrying a book and being happy to do things by myself if someone is a no-show.

  40. Pteryxx says

    Following up on my #30, this is as good a place as any.

    …and as long as I’m ranting, y’all who are concerned about huge swathes of the US voting red and rural regions being overrepresented in government, you really should give some consideration to the big-company-mediated lack of decent Internet access out here. Without Internet or cable or smartphones, there’s limited opportunity to get real information that the MSM won’t cover. We can’t get the Rachel Maddow or Daily Show clips that the progressive community passes around, and every restaurant and waiting room from dentists to auto shops has a widescreen TV permanently tuned to Fox News or CNN. The main sources of information are the few network TV channels still being broadcast through the airwaves – I believe Fox is one – and terrestrial radio. The local NPR station is bracketed by at least FIVE channels of Christian radio which step on its signal in most of the area. There’s no radio network carrying programming by ThinkProgress or RawStory or even HuffPo. Internet access through schools and the single library has censorware installed, not to mention anyone who walks by can look over your shoulder and see who’s accessing articles about evolution or health care myths or comprehensive sex ed.

    While NPR was doing an extended pledge drive this week to make up for the loss of federal funding, so was my local affiliate of American Family Radio. (They called it a Sharathon, read Share-a-thon.) In fifteen minutes I heard from the head of a homeschooler organization, callers gushing about being saved and keeping Jesus with you in the voting booth, and an American Family news segment about CNN insulting the Value Voter summit by calling it “anti-gay”, the SPLC insulting good Christian businesses like American Family itself *gasp* for calling them hate groups, and dissing the ACLU for helping a lesbian business owner spread the “homosexual agenda”.

    Plenty of recent articles have covered the weird right-wing echo chamber and its separation from reality. How about some attention given to making reality accessible?

  41. says

    My cat chewed one cord when he was a kitten. It was to a USB gamepad while I was playing a PSX game on my computer. All of a sudden, I lost control of the game, and kitteh made a very strange sound. I look down and he’s got the cord in his mouth and he’s trying to spit it out…he finally manages that and runs off. Five years later, he doesn’t seem to have been harmed by it (the 5 volts the USB provides might sting, but shouldn’t be deadly even for a kitten). He hasn’t nibbled a cord since.

    I’m not advocating this method. The sound he made was heartbreaking (plus it cost me $50 to replace the gamepad). I’m just glad it was a USB cord he learned on, not the desktop’s power cord.

  42. says

    Kitteh’s also not much of a climber…he’s nearsighted, so if he gets too high off the ground he freaks out and meows pitifully till someone comes and helps him down.

  43. blf says

    Anyone know if they make iron shackles that fit cats? Something crude and low-tech would be appropriate.

    Balls of extremely sticky yarn. The cat not only ties itself up, but is immobilized, stuck to the floor, wall, ceiling, trebuchet, other cat, yourself (if you are silly enough to be in the room at the time), and/or the spare yeti in the closet.

  44. magistramarla says

    We have to toddler-proof our house because of my husband’s weird cat. That cat will eat anything that is soft plastic. He happily chews through Ziploc bags, grocery bags or packaging material. Once, he became ill, dehydrated and was losing weight. The vet figured out that he had an obstructed intestine and after $800 and surgery, the cat was fine. The vet showed us a bag of what he found in the intestine – tinsel, pieces of rubber band, various pieces of plastic and the culprit – a piece of a plastic bath toy that expands when it gets wet that was left in the upstairs bathtub by our grandson. We’ve been very careful about cat-proofing the house ever since.
    Luckily, neither of our cats have ever been fond of chewing cords, and they are both too fat and lazy to jump up very high. I currently have a double-decker cat perch and a nice cat bed on a wrought iron frame (we call it the throne) placed in front of a large window. Both cats spend most of their time there, happily watching birds, squirrels and cars go by.

  45. badgersdaughter says

    I would seriously adopt that cat if my apartment complex let me have more than the two I have. I admit to being a bit irked. My family is adept at managing pets, though I appear to be the cat specialist. I have a well-used scratching post in my house and not one single claw mark on the furniture. You will never see my moggies even begging at the table, let alone stealing from my plate. They even take pills coolly (so long as I don’t push it). They are happy, I’m sure of it, because I pay attention to their emotional health and train them (yes! train cats!) to be good household citizens with enough food, warmth, affection, and mental stimulation. The only thing I put out of their reach is food that I know they are unable to resist (loaves of bread, mostly).

    Here is how I train a cat to not chew cables: I practice a catlike hiss-spit noise, combined with a “No, [cat’s name]” spoken slowly and sternly, that seems to key right into cat fight language circuitry. You have to catch the cat misbehaving, and use the vocal training at the moment of misbehavior, until the cat stops, then immediately drop the anger pose. After a while the cat will respond just to a calm “No, [cat]” whenever you notice them doing something antisocial. I promise. If the cat is a featherheaded kitten, or worse, a dumbass rebellious adolescent cat, a brief, calm, gentle hold of the scruff of the neck reinforces your parental authority.

    Same goes with the table nonsense. Every time you let a cat eat from the table, or give it food from the table, you are reinforcing its notion that the table, and things on it, are good for cats. If you have to give a cat food from the table, do it away from the table, preferably in a separate room. Whenever the cat begs, jumps, or otherwise makes trouble at the table, use the vocal training noise. This is exactly how social cats do it in the wild; adults eat first and if there’s anything left, the kittens get it. Until the adults are ready to leave the food, they warn the kittens off with similar vocal noises to what I described above. As far as I can tell, that particular set of vocal noises evidently means “You’re pissing me off, back off now”.

    Don’t forget to reward good behavior, or your anger will come to mean “Oh that’s just how the big ape acts all the time”.

  46. says

    Well, there are plenty of good and not-so good training tips here. When training critters of any sort it’s a good idea to figure out the “what I can train” vs “what I can’t train and must manage”.

    Icky goos tend to work well, if you can find the right one and teach her to leave the icky thing for something better, which means watching her like a hawk around a dead cable smeared with unappealing icky stuff and redirecting her toward the great, fun, toy. If she’s part of the catnip contingent (many cats do not respond to it), use very small amounts. While training, she must not be allowed to repeat the rewarding behavior with regular unprepared cable. It will take awhile to train away from cable-chewing.

    I would opt for managing. Lock kitty out of rooms with electronic equipment. She might just find something else to do and lose interest in chewing cables. Try to spend some time playing with her with an appropriate toy so she doesn’t fall into a negative feedback loop by garnering attention only through unwanted behaviors.

    Of course, if you do neither of the above and can’t find a good home for her, she’ll eventually find a live cable to chew on that might end the problem altogether, in an unfortunate way.

  47. robro says

    Mice chew wires, too. I have much experience with this at our Gold Country cabin which is far from the cell towers so it’s quite a problem.

    One of our cats took to sleeping on our WiFi router. It’s warm and up high, so a perfect cat perch. I was concerned that it might get too hot or she might knock it off, so I put a hat on to of it. Seemed to do the trick.

  48. PatrickG says

    @ karmacat, 45

    It always amazes me when these animals don’t electrocute themselves

    I’m fairly sure our chinchilla actually enjoys electric shocks, the kinky little bastard. I have no other explanation for why he only chews cords that carry current.
    @ Pterryx, 57
    It always boggles my mind how not-far you have to go from major urban centers to find yourself in a desolate information wilderness. Rural access is a huge issue, and I wish the federal government here in the US would treat it like a public good (invest in infrastructure, provide service where Teh Marketz™ won’t, etc.).

    It’s pretty obvious that information blockage is a feature, not a bug. /sigh

  49. says

    It might be as simple as the cat wanting attention or wanting to play. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, so around 6-7:00 PM, you might want to try playing with your cat until it’s exhausted (panting is a good sign) and/or bored. Lots of play time solves most behavior issues.

  50. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    PZ, this is unfortunate: you have a kitten who thinks of wires as string and anything not nailed down as a playtoy. If you can get some 1/2″ plastic tube or even some cardboard tubes, you can protect your wires. Routers & such may have to go into cupboards or, a a last resort, onto the floor where gravity can’t do them any more harm. A box over them might protect their wiring from the kitten. As a last resort, you may have to keep her out of the room that has your communications connection. Good luck!

    If a spray bottle doesn’t work, you might have to add lemon, or dab things with Pinesol cleaner. I get good results hissing at my cats when they make a wrong move. A water pistol also works well, but use it only when she’s looking the other way! Then she’ll think it’s divine punishment. If she knows you are wielding the pistol, she’ll be good only when you are around.

  51. chigau (違う) says

    We used the spray bottle to discourage inappropriate chewing.
    It took only about a half-dozen applications.
    That was 18 years ago and today she still leaves the room if I mist the plants.

  52. ChasCPeterson says

    For everything else, there’s the great outdoors.

    aw. You pushed my button.
    Outdoor cats are not OK.
    They’re just not.

  53. chigau (違う) says

    My cat goes outside.
    She goes on the porch, on the patio and, if I go with her, to the catnip plant beside the garage.
    While she is outside, the door to the house must be propped open or she fucking freaks.

  54. says

    We have a cat whose greatest joy in life is going outside… for a few minutes. He gets two or three sessions a day, with me watching him the whole time (plenty of cars, dogs and coyotes in our neighborhood) while he potters around, chews on grass, and very occasionally finds small rodents. It’s a nice break for me (I work at home) and I think enriches his life experience. Also he yowls like crazy if I don’t do it.

    PZ, you could do worse than checking out the Cat From Hell show. The presenter/cat whisperer is a real character, and genuinely seems to help people with their cats. WRT felines, I know they’re not as awesome as cephalopods, but they can be lovely to curl up with while reading a book or getting to sleep.

  55. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    I’m curious why thats a hot button topic for you.

    For me, I have been a lifelong indoor only cat owner. Growing up, I saw too many dead cats on the road, so I have always kept mine inside (and spayed/neuteured just in case).

  56. chrisdevries says

    @Tony #75

    Outdoor cats are a hot button topic for me, (and I suspect, for Chas) mainly because they are responsible, en masse, for the deaths of over a billion animals each year (this is not an exaggeration, credible research has been conducted that shows 1-4 billion birds and 7-21 billion small mammals are killed by cats each year IN THE USA ALONE!). So-called “outdoor cats” (pets, with owners and a house that is their permanent home) are only responsible for ~15-30 % of this carnage, which is still well over a billion animals annually; stray and feral cats are the real plague, but who knows how many of those started out as pets, either by birth (and released into the suburban/urban environment because a family didn’t want to take care of 8 kittens) or as “outdoor cats” that, by their choice or their owner’s, ended up losing a permanent place to call home.

    This is a preventable problem; as the great Bob Barkley says “help control the pet population: spay or neuter your pets” so there won’t be unwanted kittens, and of course, don’t let your cat(s) outside (I prefer AT ALL, but if you must let them outside, keep them supervised and tethered). There should be laws banning people letting their cats become “outdoor cats” just like there are laws that ban dogs from running amok in the neighborhood. Actually, there might be laws like this in some jurisdictions, but they need to be enforced, and people need to be educated so they learn what a huge problem this is. I cannot understand how this even became a thing people do; dogs are very strictly controlled and confined, why are cats given leave to wander as they please?

    This became personal for me last winter (although it’s always pissed me off), when an “outdoor cat” attacked an eastern cottontail rabbit in our yard, maiming it (it had a spinal cord injury and was unable to move its hind legs). I spotted it frantically dragging itself away from the cat with its front legs, and took it inside so it would have a warm place, with food, water, and safety (a dark box with a towel inside and another towel over-top), to die in peace, which it did after 3 days, with less suffering than would have been inflicted had I left it outside with a cat around to perhaps “toy” with its prey.

    This is what cats are to me: vicious, cruel predators. If you choose to own one, please make sure it doesn’t have any opportunities to engage in its instinctual violence.

  57. Who Cares says

    Don’t do that again. I dropped a bottle of water (luckily closed), when I read who your signed as, from laughing.

    @PZ Myers(#25): Sriracha isn’t a hotsauce. It is only in the 1k-2k range of the Scoville scale. For a product that is (most likely) available in the local store try Tabasco from Habanero peppers. That is almost 10k on the scale. For hotter stuff you need to go online, I suggest Blair products but go for the mildest they sell or else you’ll end up using liquid pepper spray.

  58. Space Monster says

    My cat loves to chew wires and anything vaguely stringy. I tried all the bitter sprays and hot sauces but none of it will deter a really determined cord chewer. What does work is wire loom. It comes in a couple of sizes and the smallest is just large enough to make the wire difficult to fit in a kitty mouth.

  59. PatrickG says

    Responding to Chas and chrisdevries, I feel this link is both informative and entertaining.

    And yes, you can click through to some peer-reviewed science via that!

  60. chrisdevries says

    Thanks for the link, PatrickG, it is accurate, succinct and a bit entertaining (although nothing about this issue is funny, imho). But we mustn’t forget that the bulk of killer cats are the ferals and strays. They are a true plague on endemic and native wildlife everywhere, and measures should be taken to reduce their numbers. I have heard of a number of pilot studies and local initiatives where clinics spay and neuter any strays people bring in for little or no cost; ultimately though, it is on pet owners to be responsible and not release unwanted animals onto the streets.

    The solutions to this problem are so bloody easy; people need to learn just what a menace their cute pets truly are (or might be…but best to play it safe and assume they’re going to hunt and kill for amusement), and they need to consider that the welfare of their local ecosystem is too important to go releasing unwanted pet animals into it (not to mention how cruel it is to a domesticated animal to force it to fend for itself or starve). People are such idiots.

  61. PatrickG says

    @ chrisdevries: I’ve found that comic useful as a humor-based educational tool. People get into the whole “EVIL CATS MURDER!” thing and then get hammered with the stats, along with links to more (professional-level) information.

    I’ve stunned a few people into rethinking their stance on Fluffy-must-run-free with that comic. Thank you The Oatmeal!

    In further cat news, the stupidest bird in the world managed to fly into an open window the other day. With three people opening all doors and windows available, it managed to find the skylight and try to break through that. Then, it flew past two open doors, four open windows, and attracted the attention of the badly arthritic 19-yr old cat o’ the house, who promptly reverted to a state of Feline Grace With a Side of Abrupt Death. At least she didn’t play with it, straight-up killing.

    /facepalm. Stupid bird.

  62. kittehserf says

    PatrickG @85 – anthropomorphising animals with the “viscious killers” remarks chrisdevries included in his comments gets the side-eye from me, too. It’s so often used as some sort of justification for human cruelty, or to talk as if animals make choices about their behaviour the way humans do (or can, at least). Animals hunt according to their instincts, and humans passing judgement on cats, for example, as “viscious” because they toy with their prey is all sorts of wrong. For that matter, it’s too often used by people who hate the particular species in question.

    I agree entirely with keeping cats indoors, btw, both for their own safety (from humans, in my area; we don’t have native predators where I live in Australia who could hurt them) and for the safety of other animals, whether introduced or native. It’s against the law here to let your cats out at night, though too few people take much notice of that. My cats are entirely indoor ones.

  63. Rey Fox says

    Anthromorpho or not, the point is that cats kill a lot of native wildlife, and I’m glad somebody took up that point to maddog, though I fear ze’s long gone from this thread.

  64. PatrickG says

    @ kittehserf: I can see that point, although I kind of got the feeling chigau was criticizing the Oatmeal strip, which is much, much more anthropomorphic than what chrisdevries said. :)

    That said, I’m not impressed with vague statements of “not good thing” followed by *sigh*, and I know chigau is a very eloquent commenter when xe feels like it.

  65. says

    I had a cat that liked to chew through laptop cables and, at $90 a pop to replace, I was pretty desperate for a solution. Ended up duct-taping the entire cable and that kept her from chewing. However, it definitely got me pulled out of line more than one time at the airport. Amazingly, all I had to do was say ‘cat’ and most of the TSA folks just said ‘ah’ and let me go on my merry way. Cat-cord frustration must be a common phenomenon.

  66. chrisdevries says

    I was very specific to say that cats are “vicious, cruel predators” who should be stopped from engaging in their “instinctual violence”. Of course they’re not making a choice to be killers, they are predators for whom such violence is instinctual (even the killing for entertainment part), but just because something is natural doesn’t make it good. Perhaps my language was a bit strong but I am passionately opposed to people letting their cats run wild and am firmly of the opinion that it is the people who do this who are to blame, not the cats.

  67. blf says

    Tabasco from Habanero peppers.

    Never heard of, or seen, this. Traditional (classic) Tabasco sauce is made from Tabasco chilies (named after the sauce). There is also the relatively-new (and milder) Jalapeño Tabasco sauce.

    However, the Internets does indeed indicate there is a Habanero version, as well as several other varieties. The Habanero version (and some of the other versions) are apparently bended with Tabasco chilies, albeit apparently the Jalapeño version is not.


  68. Ali Tink says

    Our cat, Evil Budley, just killed the electronic keyboard by repeatedly peeing on it.

    Repeat after me: No more male cats!