Saturday, November 21, 2009

More for Cats Who Like to Chew

Ivan loves to chew. He chews the cardboard on cat scratchers, he chews the wrist strap on cameras, iPods, Wii remotes, and other portable electronic devices. He even occasionally chews small cables. And, if you're a regular reader here, you know that he likes to chew fabric - especially clothing.

We wanted to try to redirect his passion for chewing so that it would not be so destructive. We tried cat chew toys (yes, PetStages makes cat chew toys that are intended for teething kittens), we tried rawhide chews made for dogs, etc. We eventually found dried chicken breast strips, marketed for dogs and sold by Trader Joe's. The cats went nuts over these, and the strips seemed to satisfy some of Ivan's chewing urges. However, Trader Joe's stopped carrying those, so we had to find an alternative source. We did, at PetSmart. However (again), we read, after feeding those to the cats for months, that those made in China seemed to cause some health problems in dogs. Knowing about the Chinese melamine pet food scandal, we decided to stop buying dried chicken made in China. Unfortunately, EVERY brand of the chicken strips we could find was made in China! So for the past year or so, Ivan hasn't had much to chew on except what little he could find in the house that we had not already removed from his reach. We substituted freeze dried salmon and shrimp cat treats for the chicken strips, and while the cats love the salmon and shrimp, neither is terribly chewy.

Well, Trader Joe's started carrying a product for dogs that looked interesting. It is a piece of rolled rawhide wrapped in dried chicken breast. Hmm. And it's made in the U.S.A.! Of course, it didn't have to be made here. We would have bought it if it were made just about anywhere but China. But it is made here. We gave each cat one of these, and they went wild! They threw these chicken breast wraps in the air, knocked them around, and pounced on them and chewed the heck out of them. FINALLY! Not only do they like to chew these things, but they like to play with them, too! We hope to have less cardboard and fabric chewing in our future! See Ivan in the photo below looking rather guilty about his bad habit.

Trader Joe's also carries the chicken breast strips again, but we find the chicken breast wraps (with rawhide) to elicit more chewing from the boys. They gobble the breast strips down pretty quickly, and while the chicken is low carb and high protein, the boys are on diets (being indoor cats, they tend to be less active than outdoor cats and so gain weight, despite being on a no-grain, low carb diet already), and the chicken breast wraps have a bit less chicken and require more work (and burning of calories) to get it.

Be very careful in giving these kinds of treats to your cats. You may even wish to speak to your vet about giving your cat the dehydrated chicken breast. We are lucky that our cats are chewers, so they very thoroughly chew the dried chicken and have no problems swallowing or digesting it. But all cats may not be quite so adept at handling the dried chicken. If you want to try it with your cats, break off a very small piece of the chicken and let them eat it. Then slowly increase the size of the piece. The good thing about the chicken breast wraps is that the chicken is wrapped around the rawhide roll, and the cats have to chew bites of the chicken off the rawhide. The chicken is a bit crumbly and so they aren't getting big pieces. But the dehydrated chicken strips are definitely a bit more chewy.


Lisa said...

hi, i haven't read through all of your posts, but i'd be happy to hear how you are putting your boys on a diet. i have one faaat cat who is only interested in eating and sleeping. any tips? lisa

Aelurophile (cat fancier) said...

Check out this blog entry: and this one:

In essence - cut ALL grains out of their diet. Buy canned food that has no grains, and also buy kibble with no grains. Corn, especially, is very bad for cats, and some, including me, believe it is responsible for the diabetes epidemic among cats in this country. GOOD LUCK! Tell us how it goes.