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How to Keep Cats Away From Plants (2023) | 8 Tips to Keep Houseplants Safe

For some curious reason known only to them, cats seem to enjoy terrorizing and destroying perfectly helpless houseplants. Perhaps you’re one of those exasperated owners who regularly comes home to find that kitty has been at the plants again. So how to keep cats away from plants?

This can be especially problematic if you have an indoor cat in the same house as your plants all day long. You find yourself in a difficult situation where you love both your plant and fur babies and wish they could just get along.

So is it time to give up on growing plants? Certainly not! It may take a while to find the best solution, but it is possible to safeguard plants from your feisty feline.

Here are a variety of tips and tricks you can try to keep your cats away from plants.

Devon rex cat under plant looking up how to keep cats away from plants
Devon rex cat under plant looking up

3 Common Problems With Cats and Houseplants

Owners experience different types of problems with their cats and houseplants. Some felines like to chew on plants or play with the leaves. Others even use indoor plant pots as litter boxes.

Understanding why they might be doing this can help you find a solution for stopping the behavior.

1. Chewing on Plants

If you find your cat happily chewing on your plants’ leaves, it may be that they enjoy the taste. Just like human babies, cats explore the world with their mouths.

Your kitty might take a bite of every new houseplant and go back for more if it tastes good.

Another reason could be that your pet’s stomach feels upset. You often see cats chewing on grass outside. This is a natural way for them to get fiber into their bodies and soothe their stomachs.

If your furry friend is cooped up inside, your houseplants might simply be the closest source of fiber.

2. Knocking Over Plants

It’s entertaining to watch your kitty play and chase – until your plants become their new toys. Cats seem to enjoy playing with plant leaves or even jumping at pot plants and knocking them over.

toyger cat with spilt plant

Strange as it may sound, your plants may be arousing your feline’s natural hunter instinct. The movement of long soft leaves can be impossible to resist. Kitty sees those branches shaking and just has to stalk and pounce.

If your cat frequently knocks over plants on windowsills or counters, the pots might just be in their way. You don’t need to let your cat rule the house, but consider moving your plants to a safer spot.

3. Using Plants as Litter Boxes

One of the most annoying problems is when your cat uses your potted plants as a litter box. Coming home to see your kitty has been digging in the plants and finding soil all over the floor is bad enough. Having them use your plants as a litter box can be even more disgusting.

Luckily, there are valid reasons and practical solutions for this problem as well. Let’s take a look at some things you can try at home to keep your plants safe.

grey cat shaking outside

8 Tips on How to Keep Cats Away from Plants

You can find many tricks on the internet for keeping your cat away from plants. But not all of these tips are good for your cat or plant’s health. Here are some safe things you can do to help your cat and plants live in harmony.

1. Train Your Cat to Stay Away

You may think that cats can’t be trained like their canine counterparts, but this isn’t true. Although it may take longer and require different methods, cats can be trained. It is possible to redirect their unwanted plant-destroying behavior.

A big mistake many people still make when training their cats is to use spray bottles. Vets have been saying for a long time that this punishment doesn’t work.

Your cat is more likely to associate the spray bottle with you than with their plant-destroying behavior. And you certainly don’t want your kitty hating you.

Rather than punishing your pet, try positive reinforcement and redirecting their behavior. When you see your cat coming near a plant, distract them with a toy. When they listen and start playing with the toy, be sure to praise their good behavior.

This can also be effective if you’re trying to keep your cat out of the fireplace.

tabby kitten plays with colourful toy

Praise can take various forms, for example, a tasty cat treat. Get to know your furry friend and what they like. Sometimes just petting your cat in a way they enjoy is reward enough.

Training your cat to stay away from plants can be a long process, but well worth it in the end. Unfortunately, this solution only works if you are at home most of the time to monitor their behavior.

If this isn’t possible for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other tips in this article that you can try.

2. Grow Plants that Cats Dislike

If you don’t mind which type of plants you have in your house, as long as your feline friend leaves it alone, you have many options.

There are plants with smells or textures that cats don’t like. Naturally, they will stay away from these plants and not try to chew on them.

black cat with green eyes up close in herb garden

Rosemary and lavender are some examples of plants that cats dislike. Plants with thorns might keep them away, but your furry friend could also end up with a thorn in their soft paw.

 Be careful not to plant something that is dangerous for your cat to eat. Aloe vera, lilies, and poinsettias are examples of common plants that are poisonous to cats.

3. Use Repellent Sprays

Instead of spraying water at your cat and annoying it, you can spray your plants. There are many repellent sprays made with smells that cats dislike. Felines generally don’t like citrus and highly fragranced smells like lavender.

You can make a diluted spray from lemon juice and spritz some on your plants. Some people place orange peels in their planters, but this might attract fruit flies.

There are natural repellent sprays you can buy that are pet and plant safe.

A sprinkle of pepper on your plant’s leaves is sure to keep your cat away. Just don’t overdo it. If your kitty gets pepper in its eyes, it can be quite painful.

white cat with black marks about to be sprayed

Vinegar will also keep your cat away, but it can also harm your plant, so this is best avoided.

Whenever you buy a plant spray, be sure to check the ingredients before you use it. Insect repellents are also toxic to your pet.

4. Cover the Plant Base

This is a great solution if your cat digs through your potted plants and uses them as a litter box. Cats like digging in loose, soft soil. Adding a physical barrier to the soil is the easiest way to stop your pet from digging.

You can cover all the loose soil with something sturdy like large decorative pebbles, pine cones, or seashells. As long as you don’t pack it too tightly, water will still be able to seep through to your plant.

Avoid using small gravel. It can look similar to your cat’s litter box and make the plant even more inviting.

You can also cover the base of the plant with mesh or chicken wire. A small hedge made of wire or wood is useful too. Place it around the pot’s rim to keep your cat away from the soil.

black cat on terrace with plants

5. Create unpleasant surroundings

Another option is to place something on the ground or counter around your potted plants. Certain textures and loud noises are unpleasant for cats and they will avoid them.

Try placing aluminum foil around the base of the plant to keep your pet away. Cats dislike the noisy sound of the foil. They will avoid stepping on it and in the process avoid your plants.

You can also place aluminum foil plates against the plant. This will fall over and make a noise whenever your cat tries to touch the plant.

Tin cans on sticks also work. These solutions will need to be reset at first until your cat learns to avoid the area.

Double-sided tape is another good cat deterrent. Most fur babies don’t like the sticky feeling of tape on their paws. You may have to get creative with the placement, though. Cats are nimble and will easily climb over one thin strip of tape.

ginger cat sniffs white flowers

Unfortunately, these solutions make the plants unpleasant to look at for you as well. Most of the time, though, these are temporary measures. As soon as your cat learns to stay away, your plant aesthetics can go back to normal.

6. Change Your Plant Placement

Moving your plants from their place on the floor or table may help them to live longer. A plant that is easy to reach for your cat makes for an appealing plaything.

Try to place your houseplants on high shelves where your cat doesn’t normally sit.

tabby cat sniffs green plant

However, cats are adventurous creatures and it may seem like they can reach anywhere. If you have a particularly agile feline, you may need to get more creative.

Use floating shelves or plant containers that mount directly to the wall. Place these high up and away from other furniture. Remember not to place it too high where you will struggle to water the plant.

Hanging baskets can also create a lovely effect in your home while keeping plants away from your determined cat.

7. Make Plants Inaccessible

There are ways to keep your plants in their current placement while making them inaccessible to your furry friend. You can place your plants inside a glass cloche, small terrarium, or decorative birdcage.

These barriers will keep houseplants away from your cat’s sharp teeth while also adding extra style to your rooms. However, if your cat has a tendency to knock over plants, this is probably not a safe option.

Sometimes the only solution is to completely remove the plants from your cat’s space. Choose a place in the house to make into your ‘plant room’ and keep the door closed at all times.

Sunrooms are perfect for this. Otherwise, a sunny bedroom or office can work just as well. Think about the room you are choosing.

You wouldn’t want to lock your cat out of your bedroom, for example, if this is a space they often share with you.

ginger cat sniffs yellow flower

8. Add a Plant for Your Cat

Maybe your cat just really, really loves plants! In this case, why not consider getting kitty its own plant? Giving your cat a plant it is allowed to chew on will distract your pet from the other houseplants.

Choose one or two plants as a ‘sacrifice’ to keep your cat from destroying other houseplants. There are quite a few plants that are attractive to cats and safe for them to eat.

Orange cat sniffing dried catnip

Cats enjoy the smell of catnip and mint plants. However, eating too many of these leaves may upset their stomachs.

The best choice is cat grass. This refers to any cat-friendly grass, like oat, wheat and barley grasses. In addition to distracting your pet from other houseplants, cat grass is also good for your feline’s health.

Cat grass is a natural source of fiber that helps with digestion and prevents hairballs.

Other Possible Reasons for Your Cat’s Behavior

Before blaming your cat for the destruction of your plants, it may be time to examine your own role in this behavior. Sometimes your feline’s unwanted behavior can be an expression of a different problem.

1. Is Something Wrong With the Litter Box?

If your cat often uses your houseplants as a litter box, it may be time to check on the state of their actual litter box. Cats are very clean animals and they don’t like doing their business in a dirty litter box.

If they find their box dirty, they may choose to take their business elsewhere – in this case, your houseplants.

cat in small green litter box

Be sure to clean out the litter box on a daily basis. If your cat is particularly finicky, you may have to do more than simply scoop out the dirty litter on top. Fully change the litter on a regular basis and give the box a good scrub.

It may also be that your cat simply doesn’t like their type of litter box. Since cats are small animals, you might have misjudged the size of the litter box they’ll need. Try a larger box or a different shape.

Some cats prefer an open litter box, while others like it covered or with high sides.

2. Is Your Cat Bored?

You may think your cat is an independent and solitary creature. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t want attention. If your cat is chewing up your plants, it could be a sign of boredom.

If you leave your cat alone for long periods of time, they can become bored and try to find ways to keep themselves entertained. Unfortunately, these forms of entertainment often involve the destruction of plants and furniture.

black and white cat shaking

Make sure you spend enough time with your kitty every day. There are also many great cat toys that you can buy to keep your cat occupied while you are out.

A variety of interesting playthings will keep your cat happily occupied and hopefully away from your plants.

Final Thoughts on Keeping Cats Away from Plants

Cats make very loving pets, even if you don’t always understand why they do what they do. Having a cat that chews on or plays with your houseplants is one of those strange behaviors that can quickly become very frustrating.

You shouldn’t have to choose between keeping cats or plants in your house. There are many ideas for keeping plants safe from your stalking feline. Often, your cat’s behavior will have a reasonable cause that you can address.

It may take some trial and error to find the best solution for you and your pet. But stay patient and it will be possible to have harmony between your fur and plant babies.

ginger cat sniffs house plant why does my cat drool

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