Cats are naturally curious animals, and they will surely feel the need to investigate your houseplants. The question of how to keep cats away from plants is important since many common and beloved green pets can harm your cat. A bite into a leaf or flower of certain plants can be uncomfortable or even fatal to your pet, so learning how to keep cats out of plants is crucial. We'll go through some strategies you can utilize to provide much-needed plant protection from cats.
Common Issues With Cats & Indoor Plants
Cats can't help themselves when it comes to exploring new spaces, even more so when these spaces have tantalizing plants hanging around. Usually, this leads to all sorts of chaos and often a mangled or destroyed plant.
Here are some common issues your cat can cause for your plants:
- Damaging plants by chewing on the leaves and stems or eating them;
- Digging plants;
- Using the plant pot as a make-shift litter box;
- Knocking over plants (and subsequently breaking pots).
Tip: Go for pet-safe plants when you have animals and little kids at home. Even small amounts of pollen from toxic plants, like lilies, can be fatal to cats if ingested. Since felines are most likely to explore the house's new green pets, they can get pollen on their fur and then lick it, eating toxic elements.
How to Keep Cats Out of Your Plants – Key Ways
Protecting plants from cats might be tricky since these pets are masters of getting into places they are not supposed to be in. People have been working on ways to keep their cats away from plants for quite some time. Here are some of the key ways to keep your green pets safe:
You can make a spray using just a few ingredients. The most popular variation consists of water and essential oils. To prepare the spray, use 2 oz (60 ml) of water and add two drops of citrus, rosemary, or lavender essential oil. Don't go heavy on the oils, as they are quite concentrated and might harm your pet when used excessively. Spray your plants with the mixture.
Another method involves vinegar, scent cats detest and will avoid at all costs. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Add a few drops of castile soap to bind the water and vinegar and mix again. Spray down your plant's pot or lightly mist the leaves. Be careful with the proportions to avoid harming your cats and plants. If you are concerned about damaging the plant, test the solution on one leaf and let it sit overnight.
Another strong cat-repellent smell is citronella. However, it can be too much for some people, so sniff it before spraying it all over the house. You might not like the scent wafting through your home for the whole day.
Smells that Cats Hate
Cat's noses are incredibly sensitive to scents, and they dislike some more than others. Here are a few scents that you can use (sparingly) to make your plants unappealing to your kitties.
- Citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc.);
Be cautious when creating a solution with these scents, whether using concentrated oils or citrus peels. You don't want to disturb the cat too much and take away their safe space. Cats will sense strong smells throughout the house, so leave at least one spot where your pet can feel welcome and at home.
Plants That Keep Cats Away
Instead of going for strong-scented sprays, you can use some plants that keep cats away. These are just a few of the plants that kittens hate the scent of:
- Lemon thyme;
- Scaredy-cat plant (Coleus canina).
For more information on cat-repellent plants, you can check out our article specifically on the topic.
In-Pots’ Objects to Repel Cats
You can create a physical obstacle directly in the plant's pot to keep your cat from getting to your green pet. Results may vary, so try as many methods as you need to find an acceptable solution to your cat's obsessive plant fascination.
- Pot covers. If your cat has a passion for gardening and constantly tries to dig out the plant from its pot, you can use a pot cover that goes directly over the soil. However, it won't stop your kitten from chewing the leaves.
- Rocks or pinecones. They can be placed over or in the soil and should prevent your pet from digging out your plant.
- Aluminum foil. Cats are sensitive to textures and most strongly dislike the feeling of foil on their paws. Place aluminum foil in or around your pots as a barrier to keep your pet from getting too close.
- Coffee grounds. The scent of coffee grounds is strong enough to deter most curious kitties. Small amounts of coffee grounds on the soil's surface can also act as a slow-release fertilizer.
- Pine needles. Similarly to coffee grounds, pines have a powerful scent. The needles aren't sharp enough to hurt your cat, but make sure your pet doesn't eat them.
- Plastic forks. They aren't the most appealing option from a design point of view, but they are cheap, easy to install, and effective. Stick plastic forks into the soil, pointy side up, to deter your cat from getting into the pot.
Other Ways to Protect Your Plants From Cats
There are other ways to protect your plants from cats that don't involve sprays or the creation of a physical barrier. Here are some alternatives:
- Move your plants to another location. Pick a place unreachable for your cat. You can create a designated 'plant room' that is closed off from the rest of your house. Having the pots mounted high up on the walls, away from anything your cat might use as a jumping platform, is also a good option.
- Block access. Cage off your plants or use netting to render them inaccessible to your cats. They don't have to be particularly tough, just hard to get through so that your kitten gets bored and moves to something else.
- Get your cat personal cat-friendly plants. Catnip, cat grass, Spider plants, and Ponytail palms are cat-friendly plants that can distract your pet. Keep them away from the green pets you don't want your cat to get into, so there isn't any accidental wandering.
- Cover your plant. Plants can be closed using press and seal plastic wrap or breathable plastic bags. The positive side of this method is that the bags are perfect for humidity-loving green pets. Also, the bags are clear, so the sun should still be able to shine through. Avoid placing any covered plants in an area with bright, direct sun. High temperatures combined with humidity might cause some plants to wilt. Using a tomato cage covered with plastic is a good way to keep your plant protected and able to breathe.
- Train your cats. Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained just like dogs! It takes persistence and patience, but it can be done. It's important to immediately remove your pet from the plant once they start to dig the soil or bite the leaves. Move your cat to a neutral space, avoid positive or negative stimuli, and keep the interaction brief. You can distract your pet with toys or a game. With some consistency, your cat will no longer be interested in your plants!
How to Stop Cats From Digging in Plants
Finding your cat digging the plant out of the pot can be a frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid it (or prevent it from happening again). Here is what you can do to keep your cat from digging into your plants:
- Make some noise. Forcefully and strictly saying 'no' or even a loud 'pssst' when your pet looks like it's going to start digging in the pot can be startling enough to stop the bad behavior in its tracks. After some time, your pet should learn which behavior leads to an unpleasant noise and will avoid bothering your plants altogether.
- Use a water spray. If you see your cat getting too close to your plant, you can spritz them with some water. It won't do any harm, and pets will eventually associate this behavior with the negative consequence of getting sprayed.
- Create a sensory deterrent. Cats dislike the feeling and sound of aluminum foil, so you can line the plant's top layer of soil with it to keep your pets from digging in the pots. Alternatively, you can spray your plants with a light solution of water and essential oils with citrusy smells. Just be mindful of the strength and frequency you're using these oils, as too much scent in the air can cause adverse health effects for your cat.
If you've tried everything and can't seem to get your cat to stop digging in your plant, consider if there are any reasons why your cat may be so interested in your potted plants.
Possible Reasons of Weird Cat’s Behavior
Lovable and peculiar, cats are known to do some weird things here and there. But, sometimes, odd behaviors mean that your cat is trying to tell you something. Depending on the type of strange interactions, you can define the issue your kitten has:
- Digging in your plants. If you catch your cat digging and using your plants as a litter box, this could be their way of saying their box is too dirty for them to feel comfortable. Scoop the kitty litter daily, and keep enough fresh litter in the box so your cat can effectively bury their business.
- Chewing on the plant. There are many reasons a cat may be chewing on your plants, most of which are out of curiosity though sometimes these behaviors can tell you your cat needs some help in digestion. Ensure your cat's food has enough fiber to help your kitten's digestion and keep hairballs moving out smoothly.
- Eating soil. This is a strange behavior and can signify your cat isn't getting enough nutrients in its diet. Any out-of-the-ordinary behavior like this can warrant a trip to the vet so they can accurately diagnose what your cat is missing in its diet.
How to Stop Cats From Pooping in My Potted Plants?
Knowing how to keep cats from pooping in houseplants' pots can save your green pets (and help you avoid some unpleasant clean-ups). Ensure your cat is litter-box trained, and keep their toilet clean. If it doesn't work, consider covering the top of the soil with a pot cover or rocks. Alternatively, consider getting some cat-repellent plants.
How to Keep Cats From Eating Plants Naturally?
The most natural way to keep your cat from eating plants is to make your green pets unappealing. You can spray plants with a citrus essential oil mixed with water, but it might not work if your cat is very determined. The best way to save your plants from getting chewed on is to keep them out of reach.
Why Are Cats Eating Our Plants?
It's normal for cats to chew on plants out of curiosity or to help their digestion, or move hairballs out of the system. However, it might not be okay with you (or your plants). If your cat has a habit of eating your green pets, ensure you keep only cat-safe ones in your kitten's reach.