How to Keep Cats Out of Plants

How to keep cats out of plants? The simple answer is to make the plants unappealing by providing distractions for your cat, ensuring their dietary needs are being met, creating barriers to access, using deterrents, and selecting plant varieties that are uninteresting to your cat. With a little effort, you and your cat will be happy with the results.

Below, we provide many options for you to try in order to keep your cat(s) out of your house plants. If you are creative and want to come up with your own ideas for deterrents, it may help to understand your cat’s curiosity about plants.

Why do cats like to mess with house plants anyway?

Your cat may like the texture, taste, smell of your plants. Or, they could be bored or lacking certain nutrients. Cats are curious creatures and love to play. Plants give cats an irresistible toy or place to play. Plus, cats love to get their paws into potting soil and dig around. Your cat getting into plants is likely part of your cat’s normal investigation and play behavior. It could also be that your cat is craving more plant matter in her diet, has a litter box that needs cleaning, or is simply bored.

Why do cats eat house plants?

As mentioned above, plant chewing is most likely the result of the natural curiosity and play behavior of your cat. It can also be the result of your cat wanting more plant matter in their diet. According to research from the International Society for Applied Ethology in Bergen, Norway, eating grass helps cats to rid themselves of parasites.

What plants are poisonous (or toxic) to cats?

Plant toxicity is a real danger to cats and there is a long list of plants that are toxic to cats. Among them are lilies, which are fairly common and are well documented as toxic to kitties. The ASPCA has an extensive list of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats you can read the full list here: plants that are toxic to cats list.

If you think that your cat may have ingested something poisonous, immediately contact either your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435 or, the Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, while many plants are harmless to cats, many can also be deadly. Though not exhaustive, they list the following plants:

  • Caladium (Caladium spp.)
  • Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia spp.)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Lilies (Lilium spp.)
  • Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron spp.)
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia spp.)

how to keep cats away from plants

How can I keep my cat from eating house plants?

Here are some ideas to help keep your cat from eating your house plants. It shouldn’t be difficult to prevent if you deploy some of these tactics.

  1. Provide fresh cat grass by using a cat grass kit. These kits can be found at your local pet store or ordered online. You can also grow your own catnip, which cats love!
  2. Replace the plant in question with a variety that your cat is likely to be less interested in. For example, cats hate the smell of rue, lavender, pennyroyal, and lemon thyme. Anything with a citrus smell will deter your cat.
  3. Provide your cat with other interesting toys to keep her busy. Here are a few of our favorites:
    • A bag of catnip fish toys: These cool catnip fish are filled with 100% organic catnip, and no filler. Your cat will go crazy for them!
    • An automatic motion toy: If you have more than one cat, multiple cats can be entertained by this interactive toy with a rolling ball and feathers.
    • An automated laser chase toy: Cats love lasers because it engages their natural prey drive instinct.
    • A cat-specific Youtube channel curated with hundreds of videos of birds in nature for your cat’s personal viewing pleasure. Our own Bobo enjoys swatting at the screen!
    • Finally, build your cat their very own cat garden. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont explains how to create a garden for your cats.

Why do cats pee or poop in house plants?

Is the plant new?

It could be that your cat sees the new house plant as a new, additional, litter box. In this case, make sure his litter box is clean and emptied regularly, and then try some of the deterrent tactics below.

If your cat is spraying your potted plants, there might be another reason behind it. They might be marking their territory or experiencing anxiety.

Is the litter box clean?

Cats like a clean place to go poop and pee. If the box is dirty or is full of poop, your cat may simply be satisfying her need to relieve herself in a clean area free of old poop.

How can I keep my cat from peeing or pooping in house plants?

Keep the litter box clean

We actually clean, or empty, out the poop and pee from our cat Bobo’s litter box daily, and have not had any incidents of pooping in our plants since.

If you need a visual reminder to scoop the poop, consider getting a cat litter disposal system.

Try adding another litter box

We also completely change the litter and clean the litter box weekly to biweekly to keep it smelling fresh. This is especially important if you have more than one cat.

As a general rule, we keep one more litter box than we have cats. This way each cat has its own litter box plus a spare. They all have the space they need, and most likely there is at least one box that is clean.

Put your plant somewhere your cat can’t get to it

If your plants are placed where your cat can’t get them, then it follows that they can’t pee or poop in them.

Try putting your plants in a room your cat doesn’t have access to. Some homes have sunrooms or terrariums, which work nicely. Then just be sure to limit your cat’s access to that room by keeping the door shut.

Another idea is to contain your plant inside of something, like a cage. People are known to use antique bird cages as not only a cat deterrent but also a nice decorative accent.

Make your plant unappealing to your cat

Cats do not like certain smells, such as citrus, lavender, or cedar. Try adding a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle and spraying your plant’s leaves and top of the soil. Never spray your cat!

Train your cat not to disturb your plant

Try using incentives, like treats, to train your cat to leave your plants alone. But bribery is not the only answer to how to keep cats out of plants!

Get your cat their own plant, like cat grass

Cat grass kits can be grown easily and provide your cat with a nice natural distraction while satisfying your cat’s need to eat fresh greens. Kit’s can easily be found on Amazon, but one of our favorites is the Cat Complete Organic Cat Grass Kit. It comes with its own planter box and is easy to start and maintain.

how to keep cats out of house plants

How can I keep my cat from digging in houseplants?

Cover the soil in your planter

Use a piece of screen or weed barrier fabric, cut to fit over the soil in your planter. Then, top with rocks or landscaping gravel to prevent digging. Aquarium sea glass is also a nice option because you can pick different colors like, blue, green, and purple.

Use a cat deterrent

  • Petsafe motion-activated repellent: This cat repellent is plugged into a wall outlet and motion-activated by your cat walking by. It releases a burst of odorless compressed air, the same kind found in compressed air cans, that deters cats from the area. This can be used around house plants but also to protect kitchen countertops. It won’t leave stains.
  • Homarden Scat Mat for Cats: These plastic spiked mats are laid down in the area you don’t want your cat to dig. They can be placed around house plants to create a physical barrier. The spikes deter cats from digging in the area but don’t cause them actual harm. You can also use these on your couch to prevent your cat from scratching the seat cushions.
  • HAPIPET Cat Deterrent Spray: This convenient to apply spray bottle contains a natural bitter plus lemon scent and can be applied to furniture as well as around the base of potted plants. Safe for pets and people this is considered mainly a training aid to keep cats from scratching at surfaces but also works to prevent cats from chewing on houseplants. Spray directly onto the plant.
  • Bonide Go Away! Granulated Rabbit, Dog, and Cat Repellent: Safe for use around kids and pets, this granulated cat repellent can be sprinkled around areas you wish to protect, like shrubs, veggie beds, trees, etc. The active ingredients are thyme and cinnamon oil.

Are there any safe and natural cat repellents?

Yes! Cats hate the smell of citrus and weirdly, human hair. You can save your citrus peels, like orange, lemon, and grapefruit rinds to use as a natural cat repellent. Place the rinds into your potted plant and the citrus smell will help keep your cat out of your house plants. You can also use hair clippings from hair cuts in the same way.

Takeaway on how to keep cats out of plants

So, there are a number of ways to keep cats out of the plants. By keeping a clean litter box, providing your cat with their own plants, ensuring they have any necessary nutrients, and are not bored, along with some deterrent measures, you’ll ensure your house plants and cats thrive.

Now, create your plan by researching some of the options above and taking action.

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