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Ask the Veterinarian/Chew treats for cats


QUESTION: Can you recommend a long lasting, but safe chew treat for our 2 yr old cat who never outgrew the chewing stage? I've read dog treats such as rawhide, bully sticks, etc. aren't a good choice for cats. I'm also hesitant to provide raw meat bones as he tends to hide things and I worry we'll end up with one rotting somewhere.

More info:
He'll chew anything, except of course the chew toys we have bought him. My main concern is the fact that he gravitates mostly toward hard objects and surfaces such as our faucets, counter-top edges, chair legs, etc. which I'm afraid will injure his teeth. His vet said no dental issues and not pica since he's been doing it all his life. He suggested dry kibble, but that doesn't provide a good long chew. We're retired so with him mostly full time and he gets lots of attention. He's a very active cat and gets plenty of exercise playing with us and his brother. Also loves watching videos for cats and we have a cattery out back. So I don't think it's a boredom issue. He just likes chewing on things.

ANSWER: I really can't recommend a chew toy for a cat because this is not a normal behavior for a cat to have. If your vet doesn't think there is anything wrong that's good, but you might want to consult a veterinary behaviorist. Cats don't really even go through a "chewing stage" like dogs do.

Even if they made chew toys for cats, a cat won't sit down and chew on one for a period of time like a dog does. It's just not what they do.

Your comment about having a cattery out back makes me wonder- is this a room full of cats? I mean are you a breeder? The reason I ask is because his chewing might be a sign of frustration for him- not a boredom issue.

Cats that are around too many other cats, or see cats from inside the house looking out can lean toward behaviors that can be destructive, just as dogs can, and chewing is a destructive behavior.

You might want to explore that aspect of it as well. The only chews that I recommend for dogs are nylabones as they are almost impossible to chew pieces off of. They make small ones but I don't know if a cat would ever chew on one.

I hope you can find an answer to this problem. With the help of your vet you might want to explore some options for the products that they make for pets in need of calming medicines.
Just another option.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I wasn't sure if I was supposed to just thank and rate or use this follow up as I didn't want to be rude by not addressing the issues you raised.

First let me thank you for the information you provided. I very much appreciate the education as we never had cats before and need all the help we can get!

No we only have the two cats. My apologies for the confusion over my using the term cattery. That's what my aunt called the screened-in enclosure she suggested we add to the back of our house to help ease the older one's transition from being and outdoor cat to an indoor one. It never dawned on me it could be a bad thing for the youngest when he came along, him possibly seeing other cats roaming around out there!

I'm embarrassed for just assuming some cats are chewers. I'm not surprised to learn it is probably a behavior issue though. Also he was only about a week or two old when we found him and not expected to survive. So I'm sure we spoiled him during those first few touch and go months, mostly likely adding to his behavior issues. In fact while he refused a bottle, he found comfort in chewing and sucking on my fingers which he still does today whenever I hold him. Oh my, we have made so many mistakes!

Their 6 month exams are coming up in July so I will definitely discuss the things you have shared with their vet at that time. In the meantime I will pick up one of the nylabones just by chance he might like it. I must add that we have often said he acts more like a dog than a cat when he growls at the mail man everyday. LOL

Thank you again for your help! I did not intend to babble, but I'm grateful for the ear.

Hi Connie,
You didn't do anything wrong- you just didn't know that's all. A lot of kittens do suck and chew on blankets and soft things as these mimic their mother's soft bellies and it's an instinctive act to release milk from the momma cat.
While we never encourage letting cats or puppies chew on fingers, he can be broken of this habit.

When he starts to chew on you, gently tell him no, remove your hand and give him a soft cat toy with catnip in it. The catnip will distract him in a good way and eventually he will associate you saying no to your fingers, but to a nice toy instead.

Now there are a plethora of cat toys out there- so get him a few and keep them around the house.
You might also want to get a cat wand, which is a long piece of metal or plastic with a string and feathers on the end. They like to run and chase these around the house as you trail them behind you.

That will also wear him out! As far as the other cat goes, have the two been introduced? Apparently he smells and sees her so he is probably very curious about her. A slow introduction is best but eventually maybe you can let him out there with her to play.

Don't waste your money on the nylabone. Now that I understand better what's going on, he will probably ignore it. I had a little dog chew left over from my dog that my cats found but basically ignored it. I ended up throwing it out.

I have known cats who growl at strangers and the mailman is no exception. It's not a good trait for a cat, however, and not to be encouraged. Again, this is a good time to shove a catnip toy in his face and make sure he smells it.

Thank you for writing me back and letting me know more information.
I hope that you can get him settled down soon.

I am dealing with a HUGE 3 yr old foster cat who has very similar issues including nipping now and then. He gets a stern flick on the forehead from me and a NO BITES! and it's really helped the behavior. Now he just wants out all of the time but he's an indoor cat and my main 3 cats are indoor/outdoor. Always in at night. He sees my 3 outside and he goes ballistic around the house. After a while he settles down so it's not a huge issue, but since he's really NOT my cat I can't just let him out.

So trust me, I understand the issues!!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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