My flat has only two things in it: video game controller cables, and a cat. Okay, there’s also some furniture, but most of the time, it does feel like my home life revolves around keeping my cat entertained with any object other than video game controller cables. Over time, I’ve learned some techniques to stop him from playing with these dangerous yet tantalising wires.
First of all, I’m not a veterinarian, but I do know that that if a cat keeps chewing and licking on objects that aren’t food, you might want to get that checked out. It could be a symptom of something more serious. Or, as it is with my cat, it may just be a sign that you need to stop playing that silly video game and play with your cat for a few minutes, after which point said cat will be sated and ready to lie on the couch and observe your gaming progress in peace.
When I first got my cat, he was still a kitten and his need to play with anything that looked like a piece of string seemed almost involuntary. If any cord-like object within a ten-foot radius moved so much as an inch, he had to pounce on it. Didn’t matter whether he was in the middle of his dinner or on his way to his favourite windowsill perch. That string had to get subdued first.
This meant that every time I took a video game controller out of its hiding place in the drawer underneath my TV, a long charging cable would be swirling across the floor as the controller made its journey from the drawer to the couch. Every time, my cat would pounce upon it. It was always tempting to give the cable a few extra wiggles and let him really go to town.
I never did, though, because I didn’t want my cat to see that type of cable as a toy. In those moments, I would let the cable rest on the ground, making it seem as unexciting as possible. I would dig a pole toy with a feather on the end of it out from its hiding place in my couch cushions, and I’d dangle it until my cat unravelled himself from the controller cable and came over to play with the moving object. Over time, my cat seemed to learn that controller cables were not as exciting as his actual toys.
I still keep most of my cat’s toys hidden in and around the couch to accommodate my gaming sessions. These days, he likes attacking my feet instead of the controller cable, which means he isn’t going to electrocute himself, but he is still hampering my gaming progress. The best distraction is a catnip tea bag, which satisfies his love of string-based toys and also tends to tire him out after the initial catnip high. Tossing one in his direction can usually last me (and my poor feet) through a tough battle. Once I reach a cutscene, I can put the controller aside and give my cat the behind-the-ear strokes that he’s really craving.
I’ve never bothered to buy cable covers or citrus oil spray, but both of those methods supposedly also get cats to turn up their noses at electrical cables. Ultimately, my cat’s playful behaviour tends to be a sign that it’s time to hit the pause button and look away from the screen for a couple of minutes to play the greatest game of all: entertaining my adorable cat. It’s a chance to rest my eyes, take a break from a hard puzzle, and ensure that my cat doesn’t hurt me or himself with those teeth and claws. Everybody wins.