I want to build a wall-mounted wood playground for my two indoor cats, almost 2 years old. They aren't that much into chewing, but they do enjoy biting leather shoes and tearing apart sisal ropes and cardboard boxes. I would like to build wooden bridges with a rope material they aren't going to chew away easily, so that I can build the bridges only once.

I considered these alternatives for the ropes material, but each has its pros and cons:

  • leather rope: it seems sturdy, but I fear not enough to withstand the bites. It's soft enough to be knotted;
  • sisal or hemp rope: they are sturdy indeed and, like leather, can be knotted. I notice (and read online) that cats tend to chew on it with fervor, and straws of sisal could be ingested causing potential troubles in the cat's interiors;
  • rubber wire: elastic and cheap, but I have no references on the internet about how cats deal with them. I fear rubber pieces are nasty if ingested;
  • (plastic coated) iron wire: much sturdier than the other alternatives, but more rigid. My window protections are metal wire webs and they hold well against weight, claws and teeth. I'm more worried about the cats' health if they tried to chew metal and ruined their teeth. Not sure about how plastic coating affects this last point.

The alternative is to coat whatever wire I decide to use with those anti-chewing sprays, but I would rather not if I manage to. Another alternative would be to avoid "ropes" altogether and go for a fixed wooden bridge, which could be feasible but is not an answer to the question.

Do you have any chewing experience on any of these material? Can you give advice on these concerns (and possibly other ones I didn't consider)? Thank you.

  • 1
    The answer by Beo is pretty good you should consider accepting it. In short all your rope proposals are not good choices, Either use steel cable or don't make them suspension bridges. Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


Cats will chew and swallow many varieties of even marginally ingestable strings and ropes.

One of our cats swallowed about half of a meter-long silk ribbon. When I say half, I mean the other half was hanging out of her mouth and she was running around the house mildly alarmed. The incident was probably more traumatic to me as I had to very gently pull the ribbon out of her upper GI tract. If it was not smooth silk I probably would have had a veterinarian do it.

A few years later, one of our cats was acting a bit lethargic and generally not himself. We took him to the vet and the vet x-rayed him and saw nothing. A few days later, the cat threw up a 6 inch piece of 1/2” sisal rope he managed to chew off a scratching post. Sisal rope often seems to be contaminated with or treated with petroleum products, perhaps from the machine that weaves the rope. This grease or oil is also not good for cats to ingest.

After all this we have a new rule of no unsupervised play with string or rope.

This being said, I would recommend a very hard inedible material; something like 1/4 inch steel cable or wide metal or plastic chain links--large enough links so they can’t get their claws caught in them and small enough they cant get their paws through the links.

Basically, you don’t want something they can get a paw or claw stuck in on the bridge. If they then fall off with a paw through a binding point they could injure themselves or be stuck hanging.

If you go with the metal cable make sure the ends are metal capped or otherwise protected because stray metal wires can be very sharp. I think if you use the insulated wire that you mentioned they might chew on the insulation because it is a bit rubbery. Another possibility would be something like a heavy duty cable tie.


Maybe look at tow rope. This is sturdy enough to pull vehicles. I'm sure it will be hard/take a while to chew through. Like this:


It's thick and sturdy, but I'm sure you can get different thicknesses. It may be good for their claws too, for scratching, etc.

  • You could probably stop the cat from chewing if you just got a rope that's so thick it can't comfortably get its mouth around it.
    – Kai
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 20:55
  • You have a point, Kai, but such a rope would be used in a man-size bridge for people and vehicles and not a little toy for a pet :) Besides, one of my cats is very fond of shoes and claws and gnaws them besides chewing... There is really no way to stop destructive behaviours ;)
    – phagio
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 9:05

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