How can I cat-proof my electrical wiring?

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SssCat! Painless cat repellant. © MultiVet

Question: How can I cat-proof my electrical wiring?

My new kitten is fairly interested in the wires behind my TV and connected to my computer (these are all connected to the same surge protector.) I am very concerned about this. I planned on getting a little squirt gun for potential problems, but I can't squirt her when she is getting into the wires, for obvious reasons.

Please help me, I don't want to come home from work to find a zapped kitty!

I will unplug these when I leave the house, until I hear back from you.

Answer: First a question: Is your kitten teething?

Their tender gums hurt when new teeth are coming in and they will find all sorts of interesting things to chew and bite on, some of which may be very harmful. One of the best "teethers" for teething kittens are the large plastic drinking straws - the kind you find in fast food places for milkshakes. You can either trail a straw across the floor for the kitten to chase and "capture," or tie the straw into a knot and toss it to the kitten. Plastic straws offer lots of crunchy biting resistance, and make excellent kitten teething rings.

Indeed, kittens and electrical wiring are a bad mix, and every effort should be made to keep both kittens and cats away from electrical wiring and computer cords, for their safety. It is important to deter cats of any age from sources of danger at all times, whether you are home or not.

Cats are more intuitive that we realize, and the old "pennies in a can" trick or spraying with a squirt gun will soon lose their usefulness as the cat wises up to the real source of their discomfort. They'll simply wait until you aren't around to explore prohibited areas, including electrical wiring.

There are a number of commercial products that can help, none of which require your constant presence.

  • Bitter Apple Spray

    One of the least expensive, bitter apple spray has a very unpleasant taste, and will deter many cats from chewing wires. It is the same sort of substance used to discourage children from thumb-sucking and nail biting. Bitter Apple Spray can be found in most leading pet supply stores, as well as online.
  • Wire Loom (Split Tubing)

    This deterrent is the most labor-intensive, but one of the most effective to prevent sharp little teeth from making contact with electrical wiring. Polyethylene tubing is pre-split along the entire length for easy application to wires, and comes in sizes from 1/8th inch to 2 inches (inside diameter). Available at most hardware stores. I found several suppliers with attractive prices at Ebay (do a search for "wire loom").
  • Commercial Cat Deterrents

    These products utilize high-pitched whistles, a spray of harmless gas or water, or both, and can be placed near your wiring to keep cats out of the area entirely.
    • Ssscat Cat Deterrent
      SSScat uses a motion detector to detect your cat, with a combination of a high-pitched whistle alert followed by a spray of harmless gas (the same gas used as propellant for asthma inhalers). Eventually, the spray can be discontinued, as the sound alert will suffice as a reminder.  Read my 
    • CatStop Ultrasonic Cat Deterrent
      CatStop may be used indoors or out, and utilizes a motion detector along with a high-pitched ultrasonic sound that cannot be heard by humans.
    • Skat-Kat
      Skat-Kat uses an electronic motion detector with a fine mist spray of water.
      Manufacturer's Site

    I suggest you try any one of these deterrents or a combination, to keep your kitten safe from electrical shock, and for your own peace of mind.