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Solve The Problem – How To Keep Cats Away From Plants

This article is about how to keep cats away from plants.

It is so disappointing to come home and find an upturned pot with soil scattered everywhere. Equally as bad is that the cat has used the pot plant as a litter box.

This list gives you many options to explore and adapt to keep cats away from your precious indoor plants. You may need to use several of the methods at the same time to get good results.  Persevere, cats can learn.

Make The Pot Undesirable

Whether you have one houseplant or many houseplants, the goal is to make the pot and the soil undesirable to the cat.

Here are some methods to try:

1. Aluminium Foil
2. Sticky Paws Tape
3. Rocks or Stones
4. Wire
5. Lemon Juice Diluted Spray
6. Bitter Apple Spray
7.Train The Cat To Leave The Plants Alone
8. Use A Terrarium Or Hanging Indoor Plants 
9. Cat Grass
10.More Useful Information

1. Aluminum Foil

Cats don’t like aluminum foil, the noise it makes or how it feels.  This is a quick fix to keep cats away. The goal is to place foil around the base of the plant to cover the soil. Cut the tinfoil into pieces and scrunch the edges to make a shape or just crumple into a loose ball shape. 

Depending on how much water the plant needs, remove the tinfoil for watering or leave in place.

Now place the tinfoil around the base of the plant. As tinfoil is lightweight it can be placed close to the stem of the plant without damaging the plant.  It is also easy to remove if necessary. 

2. Sticky Paws Tape

Sticky Paws is a double sided tape which is very sticky.

To use on pot plants, criss cross the tape from one side of the pot to the other, sticking at each side of the pot. Curl the tape slightly over the edge of the pot to secure firmly. Don’t put the sticky paws directly on to the plant.

Keep on criss crossing covering most of the surface area.

This is a simple solution and it is a product that is handy to have on hand.

It stops the cat from accessing places that you don’t want them to go.

Sticky Paws Pioneer Pet Roll (32.8 feet)

3. Rocks or Stones

Another very simple fix is to place rocks or stones around the base of the plant to keep your cat from digging.

Look to see what rocks or stones are in your own garden. If this is not an option try your local garden center or hardware store for decorative rocks. 

Note: Be aware of direct sun hitting any rocks or stones in a pot. The rocks will heat up which could change the watering regime required for the plant.

Midwest Hearth Natural Decorative Polished White Pebbles 3/8

These rocks look great in outdoor planters also. Be aware that outdoors, the cat may not be the only one attacking your plants as we found out. Ravens are quite partial to picking up the stones and then dropping them elsewhere.

Lava rocks are lightweight. The cat may bat them out of the pot. The fact that they are lightweight makes them a convenient choice and they look terrific. Lava rocks may have to be an experiment.

4. Wire

Wire cut to fit around the base of a plant also works very well.

Chicken wire for craft projects is a good choice and it is easy to cut with pliers and fashion into shape. Any sort of similar wire would also be suitable. The plant is still easy to water using this method.

BSTOOL Chicken Wire Net for Craft Projects,3 Sheets Lightweight Galvanized Hexagonal Wire 13.7 Inches x 40 Inches x 0.63 Inch Mesh,with One Mini Wire Cutting Pliers-10 Feet(3 Sheets)

Other Decorative Items

Look for other items to place around the base of the plant because a physical barrier works well.  Pine cones or shells are a good choice and a good excuse to go out collecting.

There may be some trial and error as cats being cats, they may decide to bat objects from the pot.

Spray Deterrent

A spray deterrent plus a physical barrier gives more protection. A spray can be used around the base of the plant either on the soil or on the physical barrier you placed there. 

5. Lemon Juice Diluted Spray

Cats do not like citrus.

Spray diluted lemon juice around the base of the plant and on the leaves of the plant. 

The method does work but it is not long lasting and needs repeating. For some added oomph, place a piece of burlap sprayed with citrus around the base of the plant. An added bonus is that the house smells great too.

6. Bitter Apple Spray

Bitter Apple Spray is formulated to stop cats from scratching furniture and destroying other objects in your home.  This makes it ideal for spraying indoor plants and pots.

It is safe for cats and kittens. The smell and taste of the spray is an effective deterrent for cats.  The spray does need to reapplied as it dissipates with time.  Keep cats  from destroying  furniture with this spray.  

3-in-1 Cat & Kitten Training Aid with Bitter | 8 oz Cat Repellent Spray for Indoor and Outdoor Use | Anti Scratch Furniture Protector | Establish Boundaries & Keep Cat Off | Made in The USA

Caution Re Sprays

A note of caution here – Don’t use essential oils in a spray. Even though not all essential oils are poisonous to cats it is not worth taking a risk. You would not want to squirt the cat in the eye by accident, which is distressing for the cat.

The same applies to using Cayenne Pepper.  Cayenne Pepper may work well to deter the cat. If the cat gets pepper on its paws and then rubs its eyes, it will sting and once again be distressing for the cat.

Train The Cat To Leave The Plants Alone

You can train your cat.   You do need to have patience and also be vigilant. This method uses a spray bottle of water.  The water is not squirted at the cat. Squirt the water near the cat, on the wall or on the floor.

The aim is to startle the cat and the cat will develop a negative association with the plants or plants.

So to reiterate,  spray the water in the cat’s direction, not at cat. It needs to be near enough to the cat, so that the cat is startled. Then follow that up with some positive reinforcement. Move the cat to his patch of cat grass. 

If you don’t have cat grass, still move the cat and give the cat a treat.  These treats are 100% wheatgerm and as with any treat should be given sparingly.

This method involves, no shouting or stamping of feet or clapping of hands. These actions only scare the cat.

The cat didn’t know where the spray was coming from so is not going to develop any bad associations with you. 

Yes, it does take perseverance but give it a go if you want to put in the effort, this method takes.

Use A Terrarium Or Hanging Indoor Plants 

cats can't get at these plants
Plant your own terrarium. Small succulents work well.

Rather than use pot plants use hanging baskets. Are you feeling crafty?  Macramé pot plant hangers are back in fashion. Try making your own macrame plant hanger.

The terrarium is also back in fashion.

keep plants safe from cats
Terrariums come in all shapes and sizes

Spider plants are the cat’s first choice when it comes to getting up close and personal. It seems that cats like spider plants a little too much.  Spider plants look sensational hanging in a basket and they are very easy to grow, as in almost can’t be killed.

how to keep cats away from plants
Cats Love Spider plants. Put them out of harms way in a hanging pot.

Cat Grass

Your cat will love you if you invest in some pet grass.  It is very easy to grow.  I have written an article which reviews several different cat grass products.  There is also a FAQ section related to growing pet grass. You don’t need green thumbs to grow pet grass.

Our guest doggy actually eats cat grass too.

Having some cat grass on a tray inside is a good place to relocate your cat when you are in serious lockdown plant training – see point 3 above.

Your cat will learn that the cat grass is his place to go to when he has a sudden urge to garden cat style.

Here is a link to the article – Growing Cat Grass

More Useful Information

  • Think twice about where you position plants. The windowsill might be great for plants but the cat likes to hang out there. Goodbye plant! Consider getting a cat window perch and this problem will be solved.
cats mayknock plants from the window sill
We can read your mind kitty. You want the window sill!
  • Rosemary is non toxic to cats and cats hate rosemary so it is a good option to grow if you have a sunny position.  Plus it is a very handy herb to have on hand for cooking.
  • Don’t underestimate the lengths a cat will go to get to plants.
cat looking at a plant on a ladder
Hmm! Which one today?
  • Make sure that the cat’s litter box is clean. Sometimes the reason cats start looking for other places to poop is because the litter box is not clean.

    Even if the litter box is in top notch condition, cats for no apparent reason, will decide they don’t like a particular type of litter any more.  It is worth investigating these issues also. 

What Now?

It is time to put some of these methods into practice. Begin with whatever is easiest for you. If it doesn’t work you have the other options to try.

Cat grass is very easy to grow. If you have children, it is an activity they will enjoy. This article answers common questions about cat grass, for example, How safe is cat grass?  Do all cats like cat grass?  How to grow cat grass?  

how to keep cats away from plants
It looks like they have thought of everything dear! Let’s just eat the cat grass to keep the peace!

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