How to Keep Cats Out of House Plants?

How to Keep Cats Out of House Plants
Photo by Steffen Petermann

Houseplants are a great addition to any home as they add color, interest, and of course, oxygen. Unfortunately, cats seem to enjoy our houseplants as much as we do, but for the wrong reasons.

Domesticated cats are the cats used as house cats or farm cats. They are the most common type of cats seen around, and they are primarily valued for their ability to be human companions and their ability to kill rodents, especially rats. 

Cats are small carnivorous mammals and belong to the Felidae species. They can be curious animals by nature; they love to explore.

So, it’s no surprise that anything moving inside your house becomes a potential prey item, and our house plants will not be excluded.

Putting plants around your home can sometimes feel like a sacrificial act (for the plant). The leaves or fronds are either teasing them, or they commonly chew on houseplants and wreck their foliage; some cats enjoy playing and digging until their leaves fall off or, even worse, defecate in your planter. It’s not personal; It’s just their nature.

Although it may be frustrating to discover your favorite plants looking like swiss cheese, your cat isn’t ruining your home’s decor deliberately.

While many cat owners just give up on growing indoor plants, there’s no reason to do so. Fortunately, there are ways of safeguarding plants from cats so that you don’t have to forgo your greenery or cats.

This is why before we give tips on keeping cats out of house plants, it’s essential first to understand why your cat may be going after your plants.

It has often become a problem for cat owners that also own plants to know how to keep cats out of house plants, and you might be wondering, why your plants?

Well, here are some of the reasons why your cats keep attacking your plants.

Reasons Why Your Cats Keep Attacking Your Plants

Cats Love To Taste Of Plants

As said earlier, cats love to explore. They taste things when they see them. You can toss anything at your cats, and the first thing they do is taste it. 

Cats like the taste of plants; thus, if you have any toxic plants in your home, you might want to keep them away from your cats as they might cause digestive issues for your cats.

Some toxic plants that are not safe for your cat’s consumption include aloe vera, lilies, English ivy, jade plant, sago palm, asparagus fern, philodendrons, and so on. 

Cat Love The Texture Of Plants

Cats love the texture of plants. There is something about the texture of fine plants that they love. When you take your cat outside, you might have noticed that they are immediately drawn to the long reeds of grass and start gnawing on them. This will be another reason why cats can’t keep out of house plants. 

Cats Get Bored 

If you have cats, you would know that they love to play a lot, especially masculine cats. 

At times when cats get bored of playing for long periods, it can lead to unwanted behavior. They tend to do aggressive things, which might include destroying your plants or knocking them over. 

Cats Love Movement Of Leaves

Cats naturally like playing with things that move. They play with things they can toss around. Thus, the movement of plants is very attractive to them, especially that of leaves.

And this will probably be the number one reason why cats love plants. Cats are born hunters. Even though they are carnivorous, it is almost impossible to resist the Movement of a leaf or a palm tree.

Cats Need To Do Their Business

Aside from all these listed reasons why cats attack your plants, Cats are neat animals which is one of the reasons people love to keep them. It is cats’ nature to cover their feces or pee with soil after they finish their business. 

If you find your cat digging into your plant, it is probably because they want to ease themselves. This problem can easily be eradicated by providing your cats with litter boxes, where they can defecate or urinate anytime. Also, the litter boxes should be cleaned out daily. 

When cats find their litter box or boxes dirty, they tend to find other places to ease themselves, which might include your plants since they have soil around them.

All of these can be indeed a very frustrating experience for both cat and plant owners, and we understand your frustrations. 

Thus, let’s go straight to some helpful tips on how to keep cats out of your house plants. 

Tips On How To Keep Cats Out Of House Plants.

Inaccessibility of your plants

This is one of the most helpful tips for keeping cats out of house plants. There are many places to keep your plants. Cats do have limits on how high they can climb. 

Placing your plants on very high surfaces keeps them away from your cat’s accessibility, so you won’t have to worry about your cats attacking your plants.

You can place them at the top of a high wardrobe or a high refrigerator. There should also not be any other surface your cats can use as leverage to get to your plants on the high surfaces you placed them on.

Hanging baskets that aren’t near other furniture can also be a good idea, or even containers that attach directly to the wall (no shelves) and stay out of reach.

Train Your Cat 

Yes, just like with dogs, cats can be trained. The method that might take a while but would be worth it is your cat training. 

Teach them their limits. Just the same way you teach your cats to use their litter box when they need to do their business. This would take a lot of patience and consistency to achieve, but you won’t have anything to worry about in the end.

Teaching your cat to stay away from your plants and redirecting it to an alternative behavior with the right incentive is possible.

Dr. Marci Koski of “Feline Behavior Solutions” recommends motivating your cat by teaching her something new. “Treats are so easy… because if you give them a small, easy-to-eat treat, it won’t take long. You can go through the whole training process and repeat things repeatedly. For some cats, it is affection and praise.”

Create A Barricade

Building barricades around your plants is also helpful in keeping cats out of house plants. 

A high barricade keeps them away. They are not so interested in what is behind the barricade as they can’t see it. 

Provision Of Cat Plants

Another trick that often works and can be a fantastic solution on how to keep cats out of house plants is by providing your cats with plants to play with. It could be their own cat grass or inside cat garden. 

This draws away their attention from your plants. Cats like wheat, barley, thyme plants, or grasses; are also safe for consumption by cats when they occasionally decide to chew on them. 

Despite this being a safe alternative, it is still important to keep an eye on them as they play with their plant to avoid any form of unhealthy consumption.

We encourage you to speak to your veterinarian about any dietary concerns about cat grass and whether they recommend it as a safe alternative for your cat.

Safety Note: Lilies are poisonous to cats, so even if you have a lily on a shelf away from your cat, that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Even minor exposures can be dangerous, like floating pollen that lands on fur and grooming.

Spray Your Plant

Spraying plants or soil with substances like lemon juice, chili pepper, garlic, and orange juice keeps cats out of house plants. Also, substances like lavender can help keep them out of house plants. 

Cats dislike the smell of anything citrus, lavender, garlic, or chili. The bitter taste or harsh smell keeps cats out of house plants.

So, diluting your citrus, garlic, lavender, or even hot chili pepper with water and spraying it all around your plants keeps them away. 

People also recommend spraying with vinegar because of the harsh smell. This process should be repeated every other day to ensure effectiveness.

This is a method that people find to work. However, it would be best if you were careful with spraying to avoid the substances from hurting your cat’s eyes or nose as it can be very painful for them. 

Create Water Barrier

This might not be the best approach, but it might be worth the try. It is no secret that cats hate water. Aside from drinking, they dislike it when water touches them. 

It might be helpful to keep your plants near water bodies. Your cats might need to walk through the water to get to the plants.  

Also, another approach is to spray your cats with water when you see them going toward your plants. This might result in them being sneakier and making them move toward your plants when you are not around. This might also create in them an aversion to the plants to avoid being sprayed with water.  

Clean The Litter Box

This perhaps could be the main reason cats are approaching your plant pots to defecate, although some pets simply do so to be difficult.

Make sure her proper litter box is cleaned often and in an easily accessible place. Change the type of litter box if the cat seems to avoid the box even when clean.

Cats can decide to become fussy after years of using the same litter products, so don’t consider it a problem just because everything has been fine for a long time.

Cover Your Soil

This is for diggers. Cats love loose soil they can dig up to do their business needs and that your house plants will have in abundance.

You can cover the soil with foil. Cats often don’t like the feel and sound of foil on their paws, so this can be a good deterrent. Aluminum foil can also be used during the holidays if you have trouble keeping your cat away from the Christmas tree.

You can also try adding a layer of heavy gravel to the soil’s surface. 

As long as it’s not too tight, it should allow water to seep into the ground below. It doesn’t have the same feel and won’t be as inviting as a litter box.

Large chunks of plain glass, rough pinecones, seashells, or broken pottery, if you prefer a more decorative look, wouldn’t be a bad idea too.

House Plants Cats Don’t Chew 

Growing houseplants that cats don’t like is a great way to distract them and another excellent remedy on how to keep cats out of house plants. Cats don’t like some plants because of their strong smell, others because of their touch. 

Here are some houseplants that cats avoid: 

  • Rosemary—is an excellent houseplant that cats hate because it is very aromatic. Besides growing without a cat’s disturbance, it also gives you fresh twigs for cooking and makes your home smell nice. 
  • The Scaredy cat plant is another plant that repels cats based on its smell and name. 
  • Plants like cactus and roses are great indoor options, and cats will only try to mess with them once because of the thorns.

In conclusion, before you give up on your cats or choose between your plants or your cats, it might be worth trying all these above-listed tips on keeping cats out of house plants.

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