I have two cats at home, Karma and Charleston "Charlie." Karma is an ornery, beautiful Siamese kitty who chews everything, and Charlie is a perfect little saint who can do no wrong. He's a Maine Coon with beautiful coloring, tufts of hair sprouting out of his ears, and the fluffiest tail you've ever seen. I try REALLY hard to love both of them equally, and I think I do a good job demonstrating my love to both of them, but it's quite difficult not to favor Charlie.
And here's why. Karma has pica, a condition characterized by the "voluntary ingestion of non-edible materials" (fabcats.org). Pica can be quite common in Siamese cats, and the fact that she was probably weaned too early from her mom is a double whammy.
This is a list of what Karma has chewed her way through since I adopted her last fall:
1. Six pairs of spring/summer shoes that were at the back of my closet. I didn't realize what she was doing until the weather got warmer and I started looking for a pair of sandals.
2. Three laptop power cords.
3. My kitchen chair.
4. Several tampons she pulled out from under my bathroom sink. She chewed through the wrappers and then ran around with the tampons in her mouth while I chased her.
5. An ungodly amount of toilet paper and pens.
6. Charlie. When he was a baby I was afraid she would crush him and literally eat parts of his body off. Thank goodness he quickly learned how to defend himself. Now he's bigger than her, and they play-fight all the time. They charge each other like they're attacking and then stop to lick each other's heads. They are precious together.
8. The thin white layer of covering under my box springs. At 5:30 a.m. she'll crawl up in between the layer and the box springs and make as much noise as a raccoon scraping an attic floor.
9. Three sets of blinds.
10. Several pairs of earrings.
11. The edges of several books.
12. My sanity. She has chewed her way through my sanity.
I know you're sitting there thinking, "You're a pet psychic! Tell her to stop!" Well, I did, and it made absolutely no difference. When I asked her why she chews everything, she showed me an image of her as an abandoned, anxious kitten. That's when the behavior probably started, and now she claims that she just likes the feel of different textures in her mouth. The only thing that stops the behavior is me using a spray bottle with a mixture of half water and half vinegar, as recommended by my vet. As soon as she sees it, she bolts into another room.
So maybe the greatest lesson from all of this is the reminder that they are still animals with their own sets of issues. And while it may seem like they're being naughty, always check first to see if there's an underlying medical condition causing the behavior. Many times if a dog or cat is urinating on the carpet, it's not because of bad behavior. It's very possible that they could have a UTI or some other medical condition.
So how do I put up with Karma's chewing, you ask? Well, the amount of pure love she gives me when she's not chewing her way through my apartment far outweighs the cost of everything I've had to replace. Her love is unconditional, and I am grateful that we found each other.