Your kitten may be adorable, but the chewed-on shoes, cords and household furniture she leaves behind aren't quite as endearing. For most kitten owners, chewing is just a normal fact of life, but in some cases, it could be a sign of a problem.
The most common reason kittens chew is because they are teething. Teething generally starts when a kitten is between 4 to 6 months old and the adult teeth growing in his gums start to push the milk teeth out of his mouth. Chewing helps your furry pal ease the soreness that comes with teething and also assists him in working the baby teeth out quickly and easily. Most of your kitten's teeth should be out by the time he is 8 to 10 months old, and teething behavior should stop around that time.
Some kittens get into the habit of chewing while teething and continue to do it long after their adult teeth have come in. Boredom and stress can lead a kitten to chew, so providing him with plenty of exercise and play is essential.
Chewing behavior that lasts past the teething stage may be a sign of a disorder called pica. This type of compulsive chewing is also often accompanied by eating the objects chewed. Oriental breeds, such as Siamese cats, are more prone to compulsive chewing. Some cats with pica may have feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus, so a vet assessment is necessary to rule out these possibilities.
Parasites and Skin Problems
If your kitten seems to focus her chewing efforts on her own coat or paws, she may have parasites, such as fleas or mites. Alternately, your kitten may have allergies or dry skin and is chewing on herself in an attempt to scratch the affected area. Once the skin problems are treated, this kind of chewing behavior typically stops.
You can buy bitter-tasting anti-chew products to paint or spray onto the things you want to protect from your kitty's sharp teeth. Physically removing the objects you want to keep her away from or confining her to specific pet-safe areas of the home may also be a solution. Providing appropriate chew toys can keep your kitten happy and satisfy her natural urge to chew. If you think there might be an underlying medical problem that causes your kitten's chewing behavior, bring her to a vet for a checkup.
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.