Protect power cords from cable-gnawing cats

My cats have picked up the habit of chewing on laptop power cords. They’ve bitten clean through them at least ten times. I got tired of repairing the cords, so I went on Amazon in search of a solution. I ordered a product called Crittercord Micro. It’s 6 feet of split plastic tubing infused with “citrus scent and bitter taste” to discourage animals from chewing. It cost $10.

Crittercord works as advertised, but the solution is worse than the problem — the smell is unbearably foul. It reminds me of the nauseous odor of hair curling preparations. Everyone in the house complained about the penetrating stench.

I told my friend Sean Ragan about my gnawing cats, and he recommended ¼-inch split loom tubing. For $12 I was able to buy a 100-foot roll, which is more than enough for all of our laptop power cords. It has no odor, and it works beautifully. The cats want nothing to do with it. Perhaps the tubing doesn’t have the right mouthfeel or pleasant-smelling plasticizers that my cats love.

The tubing is flexible enough that I leave it on the power cord when I travel. -- Mark Frauenfelder

American Terminal SL250-100 1/4-Inch Split Loom Tubing, 100 feet $12


  1. House rabbits are even worse about cord chewing; the split loom is easily the cheapest and most effective remedy

    1. Cats, rabbits, pshaw! Try a conure, which can split walnuts in half, and disassembles clothespins in seconds. Oh, the amount of lacy t-shirts that I have now…

    2. Rabbits especially like telephone cords, which are nice and chewy.  Mine managed to gnaw an electric blanket cord to the point of serious dangerousness without getting herself shocked.

      Some people recommend putting hot pepper sauce on cords to keep rabbits from chewing them, but some rabbits respond to it as “Tasty Vegetables Flavoring On Yummy Chewy Cords!”

  2. Probably could have predicted the problem with the Crittercord had the Stinkor story come out earlier (cats are probably attracted to Stinkor, actually).

  3. The last time this happened, I just rubbed Tabasco sauce along the length of the cord and it seemed to work. My cats aren’t big cable-chewers to begin with, though, so I’m not sure if it would stop more determined cats.

    1. or ones that like spicy food. If you regularly catch your furry friend with a bottle of Texas Pete’s by the food bowl, this may not be the solution for you.

  4. Nice hack, Mark.  I just train them not to do that… but before you can train the cats, you have to train the humans not to leave any cord laying out unattended.

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    2.  I’ve got a desktop, not a laptop. It’s got two VGA cables, USB for keyboard, mouse, joystick, webcam, headphones, power cable, network cable, audio cable, exactly what do you suggest I should do to keep all of those cables out of the reach of a cat?

      1. I bundle them up with velcro, personally, into thick bundles that don’t seem to interest them much.  And of course I teach all my cats never to chew on wires.

        My cats like me, so they put up with what they probably think are strange human quirks.  I can imagine their conversations…

        “Yo, the big pink one just completely flipped out when I flossed with that wire there.  It’s called a mouse cable, what does he think we’re supposed to do with it?”

        “That’s nothing – if you want to see him totally lose his mind, take a dump outside the litterbox.”

        “He brings in the kibble, though.”

  5. So, if they were to bite through these, the worst damage would be replacing the power cord? I’ve always been worried about this. I pictured the scene from christmas vacation.

    1. I’m not sure 12V would really do much damage to them.  That cat in Vacation  was working on a 120V line.  Lick a 9 volt battery, 12 is just a little punchier than that.

  6. I used to work in a pet store…. save your money re: bitter apple spray (because some pets actually like the taste and will sit there licking it off) and go straight for Tabasco sauce.  

    1. I had a cat that loved pepperjack cheese and was not at all bothered by low-strength hot sauce along the lines of Tobasco.  She never chewed cords, though, just unravelled any ball of yarn left unattended for longer than 5 seconds.

  7. “I got tired of repairing the cords”

    Did you get tired of repairing the cats?

    I once had a cat who chewed thru a power cord.  I had a cat who chewed thru a power cord, once.

    (Didn’t die, but his hind legs were paralyzed for about half a day.)

  8. Bitter sprays are messy and you end up automizing the air and carpet too – I use “No Bite!” or “Bite No More”clear  nail polish (Walmart, etc…)- once it dries for a few days, honestly – the smell does go away.  I was reminded of this when I was untangling Christmas light cords and put an end in my mouth to free my hands, and got the rude awakening that I’d brushed the stuff on, like, 3 Xmas’ ago! My kittens were cured of the bad habit.

  9. I have this problem too, although, oddly, ONLY with genuine Apple cords.  You know, you stupid expensive proprietary ones.  It has happened so many times, and ALWAYS with Apple cords, that I wonder if Apple doesn’t somehow make their cords appealing to cats on purpose.  Replacement power cords are inexplicably $100, so there’s certainly an incentive for such a nasty trick. 

  10. Why go through all that trouble when you can simply spray them with bear piss?  (The cords, not the cats)

      1. Ah, I see… I should spray cat piss on my computer cables to keep bears away from them.

    1.  Because it’s easier to train cats not to chew on a cord than to train bears to piss on one.

  11. I used chili oil on my cords – pleasant smell and cheap. One olfactory response from my cat and she was done. Just watch out for stains.

  12. …Or, you know, spread Sriracha on some cables.  (As I see Charlotte has essentially mentioned). They’ll get the message pretty quick.  I did that when my kittens started chewing on phone and power cords, and it was clear they would eventually electrocute themselves one day.  Sriracha did the trick, they never touched another cord. Do apply it while wearing latex gloves though, learn from my mistake.  :)

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