House plants are often quite attractive to your cats inspiring digging, munching, and sometimes use as a cat box. This is a guide about keeping cats out of house plants.
My sweet kitty just loves when I dig up the dirt to plant my flowerbeds and thinks that she's discovered a new litter box! After trying other methods: sprinkling in hot pepper (nope), cayenne pepper (nope), even adding clam shells into the soil (nope), I tried this.
I heard that animals don't like citrus and so after making orange-lemonade (3 oranges, 3 lemons and sugar to a gallon, YUM). I slivered up the peels and sprinkled them around in my flower bed under petals so they didn't show. You may also even add soil to empty citrus fruit peel halves and plant some small flower seeds and use them as pots! It worked! No more kitty visits!
I ended up doing the same around my vegetable garden fencing since a groundhog started making his rounds there soon after! Hope this helps all my creative friends out there! :D
By AHA! from Sterling, PA
I use fruit and veggie net bags to protect my floor plants from my bad kitties that like to dig and leave 'unmentionables' in them. I cut a bag into a circle to fit the diameter of the pot, then cut down the middle. Using clear packaging tape, I tape each side to the rim of the pot up to the base of the plant in the middle. My cats hate the netting and you can water and fertilize right through the net. Here's to loving bad kitties!
By krisanthemum from Pataskala, OH
By laurie 1
I have read questions on how to keep cats out of your house plants. Simple, use tin foil. Lay tin foil around the plant on the dirt. Don't push it down onto the dirt or you will start to get some mold. Just lay it on top. Your cats will hate it, and your plants will be fine. Also, they do make colored tin foil if you don't want the plain silver.
By Laurie from Osakis, MN
Does anyone know how to keep cats away from potted plants?
By Tammie from Wildomar, CA
November 4, 2010
Spray the cat with water every time it goes near the plant. Let the cat see the sprayer. When you leave the house, put the spray bottle in front of the plant and the cat will leave it alone. At least it worked with our cat.
My house cat (kitten) is getting into my houseplants. He is sitting and digging. What can I do to keep him out?
December 5, 2011
Definitely avoid moth balls and I can tell you from experience that pebbles on top of the soil will work plus the pebbles help keep moisture in the soil so it's a win win solution ;-)
How can I keep a cat away from my houseplants?
By Pamela from Shreve, OH
February 5, 2014
Cats hate the smell of citrus. Put a few orange,lemon or lime peels around the base of the plant. No more worries. Hope this helps.
By quana 2
How do you stop cats from pooping in houseplants?
By Quana from Dayton, OH
October 20, 2010
Also, change your cat litter. The cat seems to prefer the texture and smell of the earth over the texture and smell of your present litter. Try different litters until you find one the cat will use. I am a foster parent for a no-kill cat shelter, and presently have 9 cats. I have 10 litter boxes and 3 different kinds of litter. Some cats use the clumping, some will use only the non clumping clay litter and 2 cats will only use the recycled newsprint litter! None of them like the "super absorbent silicone" litter! Good luck. You may just have to use potting soil in your litter box!
By Shell 1
How do you keep cats from digging house plants?
By Shell from Chambersburg, PA
July 21, 2010
Set them on sheets of aluminum foil, cats hate the feel and the noise.
By Donna T. 1
How do I keep my cat out of poisonous house plants?
I have two 5 month old kittens. The one has started to lay in the plant. He is not digging in it, eating it, or using it as a litter box. He just likes laying in the plant on the dirt. The only thing is he ends up dragging dirt everywhere when he gets out. Is there a way to keep him from getting in my plants?
By Tina W.
August 16, 2013
I have had good luck crumpling aluminum foil all around the exposed soil. It keeps my cats out of the plants and does not harm the plants.
By Nicole 1
I have stray and neighborhood cats that spray on my front porch, and also my plants and flowers. They are killing my garden! Does anyone have an idea on how to prevent them from spraying on outdoor plants? I've heard of the pepper and coffee grounds, but I don't think they are sniffing, they just lift and spray. Help!
Hardiness Zone: 9a
Nicole from Chowchilla, CA
By guest (Guest Post) Flag
May 15, 2007
If YOU can stand the smell, I had a neighbor who would put moth balls in her flower bed to keep her cat from using it. I saw her cat go to the flower bed and he made a "couldn't-stand-the-smell" gesture after smelling the moth balls and walked away.
Editor's Note: Please remember that moth balls can be very toxic to pets and put them into something (a mesh bag) so that hey are easy to find when you want to get rid of them.
By oscarsmom 1
I recently adopted two male cats from a shelter. They are about two years old and are well behaved in every aspect except one started using my large potted houseplants as a litter box. After researching various remedies on line, I bought a bag of "rough" decorative gravel/rocks from Home Depot for about $5 and put them on the surface of the soil and problem solved! I watched my cat stand on his hind legs, paw at the rocks just once, and then went directly to the litter box. There are different kinds of rocks in different colors. I got mountain granite and it's a tan color. An added benefit is that it helps retain soil moisture.
By JoAnne G. 1
Simple, but very effective! After years of trying almost everything to stop Brooklyn, our cat, from leaving his deposit in my overwintering houseplants I finally hit on this method which seems to have stopped him in his tracks. If you own pets you more than likely have a disposable sticky roll or two for removing hair from clothing. Simply peel off as many strips as needed. Lay them sticky side up on top of the soil. There is no need to cover every square inch, just place them close enough that your cat has no comfortable room to enter and get squatted. There is enough room to water your plants and if need to easily replace. Works like a charm!
My husband loves houseplants, but our cat keeps nibbling on them. We always keep his dish full, so he is not starving by any means. I don't want him to get sick. My husband is not happy that his plants keep dying. How can we keep our cat from the plants? He jumps up as high as we can put them. Also, what plants should we not bring into the house? Are there plants that we can buy for only him?
Marie from Idaho Falls, ID
I bought a cat grass kit from Walmart, and that really helps keep them from eating my other plants. The second time I bought it, I only used about 1/4 of the seeds that were included each time, you don't need to use it all at once. (08/01/2007)
By francorrine AT webtv.net
Put orange peels in your potted plants, cats hate the citrus smell. Replace every week when they start to get dry. Store the extras in the freezer in a plastic bag so that when you run out of oranges you'll still have the peels.
By Melmarr from Michigan
A great idea! I wonder if that orange cleaner mixed with water might also work? It's totally safe around people and pets. You could mix some dish soap and spray the dirt and plants both, keeping bugs away from the plants.
We have 10 cats and I often use chicken wire [yep, got chickens too!] over the dirt of my garden plants, but most of my garden is in pots. Chicken wire probably wouldn't be so good in a large garden. (02/06/2009)
Dollar stores sell small jars of room deodorizer that are orange or lemon scented. Open the top a bit, set the jar on the soil, in the flower pot. It keeps my 3 out of my plants. You can also scrape some out of the jars, put it on tinfoil, put it on floor behind the door they are always trying to get open. No more scratched up door there. (02/07/2009)
Need help. I have a kitten and she won't stay out of my house plants. Every morning I find a pile of dirt laying beside the pots where she has been digging. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
To keep cats out of flower pots put small pebbles or a small piece of fine chicken wire on top of the dirt.
Joyce from Knoxville, TN (12/01/2000)
Becky asked what could be done to keep her kitten out of her house plants. I haven't used this in the house since my cats don't dig in the dirt of my house plants, but it worked for me outside. There I placed moth balls around my plants. It also keeps the rabbits away. She could maybe try using a tiny amount of moth crystals placed on a piece of foil so the moth crystals or mothballs don't get into the dirt. I know they are smelly, but it just might work. Dee (12/01/2000)
To keep cats from digging in house plants, sprinkle plain black pepper liberally on the soil surface. Worked for me.
Wrap the pot from the bottom up over the dirt to the stalk of the plant with netting. Tie loosely enough that it won't hurt the plant. Because kittens are so curious and also eat things they shouldn't make sure that any poisonous plants are up out of her reach.
My cat did the same thing. I was told to buy a small bottle of either lemon oil or eucalyptus oil and mix a few drops of either one with water in a spray bottle. I spray around my plants or any part of the house I don't want "destroyed" (i.e. carpet by the front door...). Cats don't like the smell of citrus or eucalyptus. Meow!
I found an electric fence gadget at a hardware store and plugged it in by my front yard, several times late at night I heard the cats "scream". After a week or so I didn't have any problems and am happy to say that there were no deaths. I highly recommend them. My neighbor just bought one. (03/28/2004)
Lay some bananas on top of the soil this should help or use a spray bottle and spray him. It works for me. (02/06/2005)
<img src="http://www.thriftyfun.com/feedbackdisplay.lasso?feedback_image=tff7622997" hspace="10" vspace="10" alt="RE: Kitties in the Plants">
Thank you everyone for your numerous and helpful suggestions on keeping cats out of my garden. I shall try some of these and see what happens. Also, I bought some black fabric type covering to put over my garden soil to help keep the weeds out. Maybe that'll help deter the cats, too. Sure hope so. I know my neighbors don't want to come over to clean up the cat dodo.
Thanks again and God bless.
For indoor kitties, provide them with their own, a cat nip pot or something, so that they stay out of the others and get the fiber and "fix" they need. Just keep chives away: my mother's cat fixed on it, and he loved to snuggle and fart in my face. Tuna and chives. (04/22/2006)
I just read in several other web sites that moth balls are toxic to cats, so that would not be the best method. I am going to try the pepper idea, as my kitten has now gotten used to being sprayed with water. (09/24/2007)
My husband brought home 3 homeless kittens in the dead of this cold winter, so they were inside with us, and wanting to use the planter for their bathroom business. This is how I drove them away from it: Put a small dish in the dirt, and place a paper towel soaked in ammonia in the dish - refresh when necessary. They won't even come close to the plant. (05/20/2008)
Just cover the plant because no matter what you do the darn cats will soon forget and go right back to the plant. (07/27/2008)
How do I stop my cat from pooping in my indoor plants? He has access to the litter box but digs in the plants and poops in it.
Leah from Anna, TX
You could try putting chicken wire or screening over the soil, or some cats will shy away from scrunched up aluminum foil. (11/07/2006)
My cats did that, too. I finally got rid of my floor plant. You could try making it difficult for your cat to get to the dirt and hope it works. Perhaps put foil around the plant, or criss-cross tape, or mothballs if you can stand the smell.
I do have small plants that they don't bother. Good luck. (11/07/2006)
By Sandy from WI
Use the orange mesh bags that onions come in. The cats don't like it because their claws get caught in it. Just put around the plant right to the edge and to the stalk. Good luck. (11/07/2006)
You could try using pine cones. Just place them all around the stems of your pot plants, they are attractive and pretty to look at. And well, let's be honest, have you ever seen a cat trying to walk on pine cones? (11/08/2006)
I found that when my shy and wild kitty was sneaking into the 8' Ficus Tree pot at night, that she not only pooped, but also kicked dirt out everywhere. So, I simply found some thick leafed fancy silk flower greenery that comes in bunches at the dollar store and stuck them all around the base of the tree to completely cover the pot of soil. I then sprayed the flower greenery leaves thoroughly with a cheap but lovely room deodorizer and she hasn't been back since! :) (11/08/2006)
I agree with putting something over the soil (netting or wire), but please do NOT use mothballs. They are toxic to cats and will destroy your pet's liver, even the scent will do damage. Also, once you cover the plant's soil, place the cat's litter box near the plant to encourage the cat to use it, even if inconvenient, you can move it later. You may have to try different types of litter. My cat refuses to use the feline pine stuff, maybe yours is finicky too. If you need to, put some soil in the litter box with the litter until the cat regularly uses it, then cut back slowly on the soil.
You may try to put a scoop of your cat's waste in the litter box so he smells his scent in it. I bought a new litter box for one of my cats, and he initially wouldn't go in it because he didn't realize that it was his. Once he realized it, he never had another accident. This is a very fixable problem. (11/08/2006)
I had this problem recently with our new cat, Patton. We have several large plants that are on the floor. I put bamboo skewers poking up out of the soil every inch or so, it looked like a forest of skewers. He had no place to sit or walk comfortably. I had no further problems. Be sure to place the sharp part of the skewer down so that your cat doesn't accidentally fall on them.
Good Luck! Jess (11/08/2006)
Thanks for all the tips! (07/26/2008)
Does anyone have any remedies to deter my cats from eating my houseplants/flowers? I love to keep small potted plants and flowers in my home, but my cats love to chew on the them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Monica from Pingree Grove, IL
Just get a a little planter and fill with soil and some grass seed. When this grows it will be for kitty. Kitties like to eat grass when they have stomach problems or constipation. (07/31/2008)
By Cathy from MA
Buy the inside formula cat food. The cat needs the greens just like we do. My cat won't touch the kitty greens. I asked my vet why he was eating my plants and he said I was using the wrong kind of cat food. So after his suggestion I purchased the inside cat food formula and it hasn't happened since. Been 5 years now. (07/31/2008)
I recommended this on another topic on stray cats, but from what it looks like, some ground up rosemary sprinkled around the pots might work.
DON'T use the red, or any other kind of pepper, method. It burns the cats' eyes. There have been documented cases of cats actually scratching their eye out to stop the pain. (08/01/2008)
Cats eat house plants because they like and need "greens" in their diets, too. I buy "cat grass seeds" for our cats. You can buy it at any pet store, grocery stores, Wal-mart. I've also bought wheat grass seeds from Whole Foods.
It grows fast and the cats love it. Mine never touch house plants when they have their own grass. You can buy a kit for about $3. It comes in a plastic container that has soil and seeds. Instructions too.
I hope you will treat your cat. Regards.
I have read all of these. I bought the cat grass and they ate it down to nothing then moved back onto my house plants. I'm going to try the lemon, and I will keep you up dated. This is a great web site. Thanks all. (10/21/2008)
Would anyone know of a cat repellent for my cat? I have numerous houseplants and I do not want him to get sick by chewing on them.
By Diane from Buffalo, NY
I've had cats all my life and only had one that ate my houseplants and couldn't be trained to leave them alone.
The cat I have now is very interested in them, but I have found a way to teach him to leave them alone. I use 2 methods in conjunction with each other.
The first is, I keep a bunch of small spray bottles around the house. I went to the Dollar store and stocked up. I made sure that each one would spray a stream for at least 10 or 15 feet. I put one everywhere that I usually sit or where it's handy to grab quickly. Now whenever the cat starts toward my plants (or anything else he's not supposed to get into) I give him a quick squirt and keep squirting till he's well away from the plants.
The other method, is I found some stuff at the drug store that is made to teach toddlers not to suck their thumbs. It comes in a little bottle like nail polish. I paint just a little bit on a few of the leaves that I see "cat-evidence". It doesn't hurt the leaves, and the next time the cat goes to chew on the leaf, even if it's weeks later, after just one or two chews the cat takes off running. Doesn't hurt the cat either, but he sure doesn't like the taste. (03/30/2010)
How do you keep a cat from digging in house plants?
By Joey from NY, NY
DO NOT USE any kind of pepper or mothballs! Mothballs are poison to animals. Pepper burns their eyes so badly that they will actually scratch their eyes right out to get rid of the pain. Use citrus scents. Cats don't like the smell of citrus, oranges and lemons, or cover the dirt up with crumpled foil, a paper plate with double sided sticky tape on it, or coffee grounds. I cut the top off a 2 litre bottle, wrapped it around the plant stem, and the cats can't get at the soil. You use the top with the pouring hole. Slit it up one side and put it around the stem with the spout up and the cut part over the soil, like a tent! (10/31/2009)
I used to have cats that did that. I took some large rocks and placed them on top of the soil. You don't have to cover every inch, just enough so they have no room to dig. Make sure they are big enough that the cats can't move them. There is enough air space for the plant and the cat can't find room to dig. This worked great. Bricks would work, but the rocks were really nice looking and did the job well. (11/01/2009)
By c t
I also use pebbles in my houseplants, it keeps my cat from digging plus it looks good, too. NO mothballs, they are bad to breathe the fumes for you and the kitty. (11/01/2009)
I use seashells. You can find them at any craft store. They are pretty and the cats don't want to stand on them. (11/02/2009)
Use the mesh bags that onions come in to cover up the soil. Cats don't like it because their claws get caught in it. (11/03/2009)
Do not use mothballs and please, do not use black pepper. It is fatal to cats. (06/17/2010)
Does ammonia work for cats urinating and pooping in house plants?
By April from Dallas, TX
I would not put ammonia on the soil of house plants. I had a cat that did the same thing and here is what worked for us.
If you can re-pot the plants, do so. If this is not feasible, take off as much of the potting mixture as you can and replace with fresh mixture. We then used regular pine cones and placed around the plants. My cat did not like them at all and you can water right over them. (11/26/2009)
Save the mesh bags that onions come in and crumple them up and place on the soil around the bottom of the plants. They don't like it because the mesh gets caught in their claws. You may have a mess the first couple of times that they jump in, but they will not go back. (11/26/2009)
You do not even want to use ammonia for cleaning urine or poop spots on carpet, floors, comforters, etc. Cats are attracted to it because it's an odor similar to their urine and makes them think that's where they should go potty. (11/26/2009)
I put coffee grounds, about an inch deep, on top of the soil. The pine cones can go right on top of it. Great idea. Now they don't use my plants as a bathroom. They just eat them! So I hung them all from the ceiling; the plants, not the cats! (11/26/2009)
I used to have this problem. I took large decorative rocks and spread them around the top of the soil. The cats can't move them to dig and then they leave it alone. You could take a small amount of potting soil and spread it on their litter box. They will like it. (11/26/2009)
By c t
Ammonia may actually make them think that is the right place to go. I've read on Thriftyfun that orange rinds will keep them out. I used to put wire mesh across the top of my large plants. You can cut it to fit around the plant and it's pliable so that you can fit it down around the top of the pot. (11/27/2009)
Maybe he does not like your brand of cat litter? Try to find some that is more like plant dirt. Good luck. If this fails, I would call the vet as maybe there are health issues? (11/28/2009)
Cats do not like the smell of citrus, so you could put orange rinds on the soil. Or bend the peels with the outside facing the soil, it will spray out the smell of the fruit. Go to the local dollar store, buy the small jars of citrus air freshener, poke a couple of holes in the top, set 1 in each pot. In a month or 2 you will still be able to use the jars elsewhere in your home, and the cats will leave the plants alone. I have 3 cats. It worked with them. One of them was wild when she came here to live. She didn't know what "no,no" meant. But she leaves the plants alone. (11/29/2009)
By mrs. joe
Sorry but I have to ask you; how clean is the box? Ours is cleaned twice a day (in the morning and again at night). Cats do not like a dirty box at all and are picky about some of the litters that they are expected to relieve themselves in several times a day. (11/30/2009)