Cat lovers appreciate their purry friends’ unruly attitudes. However, part of what makes cats unique is their propensity to mess with your indoor plants. Let’s examine the different tactics you can apply to keep your cats away from plants.
Why Do Cats Love Plants?
Before setting out on your quest for safeguarding your plants from your favorite little housemates, it’s important to understand why cats like plants. Knowing why they’re attracted to your houseplants will help you devise the best strategy.
Cats Enjoy How Plants Taste
While adult humans don’t tend to taste everything in their environments, babies are notorious for putting objects in their mouths. Similarly, cats explore their surroundings through their sense of taste. Hot all plats will turn out to be tasty for your feline friends, but when they find something they like, you can be certain that your cats will be back for seconds. Some plants can be toxic for cats. However, cats may end up upsetting their stomachs by consuming large amounts of plants that aren’t harmful. As with any health issue, cats that experience obvious discomfort from munching on plants should be examined by a veterinarian.
Cats Find Enjoyment in Moving Things
You’ve seen the laser pointer videos online where cats chase a dot of light without losing the slightest interest. Cats have changed through thousands of years of evolution but their hunting instinct remains intact. The movement of leaves in the wind triggers cats’ hunting response and you’ll often see them clawing away at a plant.
Cats Appreciate the Texture of Plants
In response to an upset stomach, a cat may chew on a plant to get some fiber moving through its digestive system. This is an instinct in many animals and can be seen in dogs as well. Furthermore, there’s evidence that cats enjoy the texture of plants as they break off some grass and munch on it.
How to Keep Your Cats Away From Your Plants
Now that you know why your cats love plants, you can apply one or more strategies to keep the two separate. Depending on the size of your home or the budget you have, you can implement one or more of the following tactics.
Choose Plants that Cats Don’t Like
Not all plants will cause a cat to be drawn to them. Choosing plants that have a texture or scent your cats detest is a great way to solve your problem. Try placing lemon thyme, rosemary, roses, cacti, and other prickly plants among your other pots. If your pet’s dislike for the aforementioned plants is stronger than its love for chewing on your other greenery, you’re in the clear.
Keep the Plants in a Separate Room
If you have a room that gets enough sun and can be off-limits for your cats, you might want to elect the simplest solution. Keeping your plants in a separate room is an obvious way to keep your cats from harming them. This doesn’t mean that your cats can never enter the chosen room. It just means that any time your purry friend spends in the plant room will have to be supervised. An attic that gets sun, a bedroom whose door can remain shut during the day, and even a bathroom are possible options.
Make Your Plants Less Appealing to Your Cats
Another way of keeping your plants safe from your cats’ claws and teeth is by making them unappealing. Consider what was mentioned above about plants that cats avoid. You can use this information in your favor. Spraying your plants with scents that cats avoid will cause them to steer clear of your green gems. One option is to use a mustard or pepper repellent spray. Alternatively, citrus is a scent that will keep your cats at bay. Other scents that cats will avoid are essential oils, onion, and garlic. Coffee grounds can also be used near your plants to discourage cats from approaching. If you want a ready-made solution, check your local pet store for anti-cat aromatic sprays.
Put Your Plants Out of Your Cats’ Reach
One obvious solution is to put some space between your plants and the cats in your home. Dangling pots from the ceiling with a special rig is one option. You can also position single shelves high up on walls where your cat will not be able to gain access. Of course, this will put the plants in plain view. Your cats will be constantly looking for opportunities to try and reach them. If you don’t want the plants to be a permanent thought on your cats’ minds, you can skip this tactic.
Give Your Cats Their Own Plant
If you find that your cats are attracted to a specific kind of plant, you may want to get one specifically for their enjoyment. Buy a plant of their liking that will be available in a corner of your room where your cats can enjoy it at their leisure.
Train Your Cats to Respect Your Plants
It may not be as simple to train a cat as it is a dog but it can be done. This will take some time and you’ll have to be patient and consistent so that the training sets in. The secret to achieving this training goal is to connect the desired behavior to a reward. Find out what your cats respond to the most. This can be a yummy treat or some praise and affection. Make sure your pets associate the reward with the action you want them to do, in this case staying away from your plants, and repeat until you get the desired result.
Give Them a Little Spray
Punishing your feline friends is out of the question. However, making their lives a little difficult when they approach your plants can condition your cats to stay clear. Have a spray bottle with some clean water by your side. When your cat starts to approach your plants with bad intentions, give them a spritz or two. This might be annoying enough to keep your cats away from your plants but it may annoy them temporarily. Try to gauge whether your cats respond to such treatment and use it accordingly. There’s no need to continue with a technique that aggravates your cats without achieving your goal.
Layer The Dirt With Pebbles
Layering the dirt around your plant with pebbles and smooth stones will keep your cats from digging it up. This is helpful in the case that your problem is primarily a fixation may have on the soil rather than the leaves. Digging comes naturally to cats and lining the dirt with some rocks will keep them from making a mess and harming your plant’s roots.
Make the Area Near Your Plants a “Minefield”
If you can’t place your plants out of reach and are having a tough time deterring your cats from getting to them, you can try making the area unpleasant. Animals will avoid something if it is repeatedly proven to them that the area is hostile. This follows the same principle as spraying your cat with water but takes things a step further. Your intention is not to harm your cats.
You want to create a situation that conditions your furry friends that getting too close to your plants is undesirable. In a sense, it is like a young child touching a hot stove. A good scare can register as a deterrent, especially when it occurs repeatedly and is associated with a specific object. In this case, when your cats get beyond a certain point, a loud sound or startling motion can scare them off.
One way to achieve this is to place plastic or tin-foil plates around the flower pot in a way that they will be knocked onto the floor as your cat approaches. Cats are all about stealth and if it’s proven that their footing is uncertain around your plants, they’ll keep away. When setting up the traps for your “minefield,” you want it to come from a place of affection. You’re not trying to hurt your furry companions but rather to make it clear to them that they must coexist with your lovely plants.
Keep Your Cats’ Litter Box Clean
A less obvious reason as to why your cats may be hanging out near your plants has to do with their litter box. Cats are picky about bathroom time and a clean litter box is essential for their needs. If the litter box isn’t clean, they will elect to use the dirt around your plants instead. Furthermore, cats show their displeasure by making messes. If their litter box isn’t clean, they will take it out on your plants, making a mess to get your attention.
Choose What’s Most Convenient for You
You should be able to enjoy the company of your cats while decorating your home with some beautiful plants. Whether you modify your cats’ behavior or you put some distance between your pets and your plants, you shouldn’t have to settle for one or the other. Consider the options you can implement in your home and take the necessary actions so that everyone is happy.
How to Keep Cats Away from Houseplants (Video)
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"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett