Keep cats off plants

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Indoor Plants Cats Avoid: Houseplants Cats Won’t Chew On Or Potty In

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. Read on to learn how to cat-proof houseplants.

Safeguarding Plants from Cats

Cats commonly chew on houseplants and wreck their foliage, use them as litter boxes, or play with them until their leaves fall off. This makes it tough to successfully grow houseplants and enjoy your feline friends. 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 your cats.

Houseplants Cats Won’t Chew On

Growing plants indoors that cats dislike is a great way to distract them. Cats don’t like some plants because of their strong odor, others because of the way they feel. Here are a few indoor plants cats avoid:

  • Rosemary is a great indoor plant that cats hate because it is highly aromatic. In addition to growing without cat interference, it also provides you with fresh sprigs for cooking and makes your house smell great.
  • Scaredy cat plant is another plant that deters cats based on the smell, thus the name.
  • Plants like cactus and roses are great indoor options and cats will only try messing with them once because of the thorns.

How to Keep Cats Out of Houseplants

You can also cat-proof houseplants by making them smell bad. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around the leaves of houseplants and your cat will back away pretty quickly. Cats also hate the smell of citrus. Put orange and lemon peels in your pots along with the plants to help deter them. Another option is spraying the leaves directly with diluted lemon juice or orange oil. NOTE: Citrus oil extracts like those found in insecticidal sprays, dips, shampoos, insect repellents, food additives, and fragrances are toxic to cats and should be avoided.

Many people who have trouble with their cats using plants as a litter box will purchase plants with offensive textures that will make cats think twice about their bathroom habits.

You can also cover the soil with some large pebbles or stones around the base of the plants to prevent digging. Pinecones or aluminum foil, for instance, placed around the planter may help to keep cats away. Another option is covering the base of the plant with chicken wire, mesh, or another breathable fabric.

If you still can’t keep your cats away from your plants, don’t give up. There are still a few more options.

  • Create a plant room and keep the door closed to keep cats out. Sunrooms work well for this, but sunny bedrooms or bathrooms will suffice.
  • Cage the plants using wire shelving units. This will help protect plants, but really adventurous cats may still find away to stick their paws in.
  • In addition to focusing on indoor plants cats avoid, why not offer some safe plants for the cat, kind of like a sacrifice? Cats love catnip and lemon balm. Put a few in unbreakable plastic pots and place sacrifice plants in various locations throughout the house but not right next to your other plants. This will keep your pesky feline occupied and may safeguard some of your other plants from disaster.

No solution is foolproof, but there are ways to make it much harder for your cat to ruin your house plants. If you’re tired of seeing your greenery shredded and soiled, no pun intended, give some of these tips a try.

Turn a Plastic Carpet Runner Upside Down

A plastic carpet runner can be a deterrent to cats with sensitive feet. Turn the runner upside down so the little cleats that help it grab the carpet now point up and place your plant on top. Most cats won’t like feeling their paws pricked as they approach the planter even though the cleats are harmless. You can try this with floor planters or use heavy shears to cut the plastic into smaller pieces to use on shelves and bookcases.

Put Plants in Decorative Bird Cages

If you have smaller plants that your cat loves to knock off window sills and shelves, try putting them in decorative bird cages. All you have to do is remove the top of the cage from its base, arrange one or more plants inside, and latch the top back on. For extra protection, hang the cage from a hook or curtain rod.

Cover Soil With Pebbles

Rocks can keep your cat from digging the soil out of your pots and make the pots a less-desirable place to relieve herself. The trick is to cover the top of the soil with smooth pebbles that are at least on one-inch or preferably larger. Don’t use smaller gravel because your pet may mistake it for litter and look at it as an invitation to use the planter as her new litter box.

Spray Plants With Bitter Spray

If your cat likes to chew your houseplants, making them taste bad could solve the problem. Spray the leaves (top and underside) and stems lightly with bitter spray and let it dry. Put each plant back in its usual spot and keep an eye on how your cat reacts when she attempts to bite a leaf. It might take a few tries, but she will probably decide she no longer wants to make a salad out of your prized ficus.

Try Using Foil

Cats typically don’t like the feel, taste or smell of aluminum foil, so it can be another good deterrent to your cat’s obsession. Try wrapping the pot in foil or at least putting crumpled foil on top of the soil.

Put Plants in a Screened Aquarium

If you have a collection of small to medium-size plants, putting them in an aquarium with a screen top might be all you need to keep your cat in look-but-don’t-touch mode. The screen top allows some air circulation, but your cat will have to keep her claws to herself.

Cover Soil With Citrus-Scented Landscape Fabric

Most cats dislike the smell of anything citrus. Try covering the soil around your plants with a layer of landscape fabric that has been cut to fit in the top of the planter and sprayed with diluted orange essential oil. Add about 20 drops of the oil to about 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle, mist the cloth well on both sides, and then place it on the soil around the plant. Refresh the citrus spray weekly to help keep kitty away.

Sprinkle Lemon Peels Around Plant Base

Most cats aren’t fond of lemon, so don’t throw away the peels after you juice your lemons. Instead, slice them in strips and arrange them on top of the soil around the plant. This solution is more effective if you renew the peels on a weekly basis. You can also mix lemon and orange peels if you like.

Give Kitty His Own Plant

Sometimes the best solution to lure your cat away from your plants is to give her some of her own. Many pet supply stores sell cat grass kits that allow you to grow safe grass your cat can nibble on whenever she wants. If you place a planter with this grass where your cat can easily reach it, she may be satisfied enough to leave your plants alone.

Keep Trying Until Something Works

While some cats are die-hard plant marauders, it is possible to keep your cat out of your plants. With a variety of options at hand, you’re bound to find something that works with your pet! Just keep trying until you find an effective solution.

So the neighbourhood cat keeps digging in your garden. Should you worry?

Probably — a little. Cats are carnivores and their feces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in herbivore manure.

Luckily, there are several eco friendly solutions that will help to keep cats out of your much loved vegetable beds and away from your growing food.

Cats prefer to walk on soft soil and will avoid prickly surfaces. Make your garden beds into a less inviting litter box with the following prickly solutions:

  • Cover the garden in twigs, placed a couple of inches apart throughout the bed.
  • Push pine cones or other prickly yard trimmings down into the soil around your plants.
  • Lay chicken wire over the beds. Alternatively, upcycle the mesh produce bags from onions or potatoes by spreading them on the garden and anchoring them with twigs. Increase the hole size around your budding plants if necessary.

Use scent to keep the cats away

  • Interplant in the garden. Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme — so plant a few of these throughout the garden space. As a bonus, interplanting will attract pollinators and can help to avoid pests too.
  • Cats steer clear of strong citrus scents. To ward off unwelcome fur balls, throw peels directly on the garden.
  • The scent of human hair deters cats. Empty your brushes onto the garden and reclaim your territory! (Stay away from moth balls though — this is a commonly cited suggestion — they are toxic to cats and humans).

Wash well to deter garden cats

If your visitor has a favourite location, try washing the area well with a hose (or water from your rain barrel!) to remove the scent or urine spray. Cats tend to choose the same spot repeatedly — removing their previous stake on your garden will go a long way towards preventing reoccurrences.

Mix up a batch of cat-away spray

Rumour has it that this magic combination of strong scents is unparalleled kitty repellent:

  1. Combine 1 tsp of black pepper, dry mustard and cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove.
  2. Fill to the top with water.
  3. Apply to your garden beds.

Create an outdoor litter box

Cats love mint, honeysuckle and catnip. Why not plant a small, separate, cat-friendly garden that includes a variety of these plants? Place a small sand box nearby. You’ll still have to clean up and properly dispose of your cat’s waste, but it might help keep kitty — and her business — out of your veggies.

How to Keep Your Cat from Chewing on Houseplants

In Short… Keep the plants out of your kitty’s reach. This is by far the most effective step you can take to prevent your cat from eating your indoor plants—some of which may be toxic.

Why Do Some Cats Eat Plants?

Although cats are primarily carnivores, in the wild they also nibble on plants, for added nutrients or fiber, or perhaps just because they like the taste. We’re not really sure. But young, tender vegetation seems to be their favorite.

In the home, cats sometimes eat houseplants out of boredom, or because they’re attracted to the leaves fluttering in the air currents.

Which Plants Are Bad For My Cat?

Many popular houseplants, such as ivy and philodendron, are poisonous to cats. The following table lists some of the more common harmful plants.

Common Toxic Plants
Arrowhead fern Diffenbachia
Avocado Holly
Boston ivy Hydrangea
Cactus Ivy
Caladium Lily*
Christmas trees Marijuana
Chrysanthemum Mistletoe
Creeping fig Narcissus
Crocus Philodendron
Dafodil Tomato leaves

. Note: lilies with an asterisk (*) after the name are particularly dangerous; they may cause kidney failure in cats. The toxicity of other plants in the list ranges from mild to severe.

The following plants are generally recognized as safe for cats. However, be aware that any plant matter, when consumed, may produce minor gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Common Non-Toxic Plants
African violet Orchid
Bamboo Oregon grape
Begonia Peperomia
Boston fern (and many other ferns) Prayer plant
Camelia Spider plant
Cornflower Sweet william
Grape hyacinth Variegated wandering jew

Even plants that are inherently non-poisonous can be toxic if sprayed with chemicals. Often plants obtained from a nursery or florist have been recently treated with insecticide.

When in doubt, assume that a plant is poisonous.

Keep Toxic Plants Away from Kitty

In some cases, it’s easiest just to give plants away to someone who doesn’t live with a cat (or other animal who needs to be kept away from houseplants). Another option, especially with larger plants, is to keep the plants in a room that is inaccessible to kitty, but this is much easier said than done. For smaller plants, you can place them on high shelves, mount them on the wall, or hang them from the ceiling. When deciding where to put your plants, remember that cats are excellent climbers and jumpers!

Making Plants Unpalatable — and Other Disincentives

There are a number of non-toxic substances that you can apply to plant leaves to make them smell or taste terrible to kitty. Bitter Apple, a well-known repellent, has an odor that cats hate but is unnoticeable to humans, and it’s safe for your plants. You can find similar products in most pet supply stores, or online. You can also rub a dilute vinegar solution on the leaves; it won’t hurt the plant, but it’s a major turnoff for cats.

Be aware that repellents have two common shortfalls. One is that cats’ reactions vary widely. The other is that the scent of the product wears off after a few days; however, if it’s strong enough, it won’t take long for kitty to get the message.

In addition to making the plants unattractive to your cat, you can startle her whenever she’s about to start munching on a plant. Clap your hands, say “no” in your moderately-loud “bad kitty” voice, or use a squirt gun. Be stealthy if you use the latter technique, so that kitty associates the squirt with the act, not with you. Once you’ve got kitty’s attention, if she doesn’t stop eating on her own, follow up by carrying her away from the plant and over to a suitable distraction, such as a pot of “kitty grass” (see below) or her favorite scratching post.

Keep in mind that you have to employ these behavior modification measures while kitty is eating, or just about to eat, a plant; otherwise they can actually be counterproductive. Discontinue any negative reinforcement that overly frightens your cat or that is ineffective.

For plants in medium-to-large containers, putting decorative but sharp-edged rocks on top of the soil will dissuade kitty from sitting there. (Side note: sharp rocks may also stop cats from urinating in planters. Of course, if your cat is using the planter as a litter box, you need to diagnose and fix the underlying cause, which could be anything from an insuffficient number of litter boxes to dangerous bladder stones. Related link: How to Select, Set Up, and Maintain The Litter Box(es))

You can ease up on the disincentives if your cat is not eating the plants but merely sniffing or rubbing her cheeks against them, as part of her normal “taking inventory” routine. Sometimes you have to get close in to see for sure.

Prevent Boredom

Eating houseplants is only one danger facing a bored cat. Houseplants or not, it’s imperative that you take steps to keep your cat adequately stimulated. Play with her each day, provide her with an array of scratching posts and high perches, set up hiding places, keep a bird feeder stocked outside the window, and hide treats in random places throughout the house. Rotate the toys, inject variety into the playing routine, and introduce cardboard box “hideouts” on a regular basis to give your cat an opportunity to discover new things and exercise her mind.

What if My Cat Ingests Part of a Poisonous Plant?

  • Immediately call your veterinarian.
  • If it’s after-hours, call the nearest emergency veterinary clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435).

When you go to the veterinarian, if at all possible bring the plant, or at least a piece of it, for identification.

Healthy Alternatives

To satisfy your cat’s need to add some greens to her diet, you can buy “kitty grass” that comes with its own container. Simply follow the directions on the package. Within a few days, you’ll have seedlings sprouting up. The only downside to this setup is that the grass usually dies out after a couple of weeks, so you have to replenish often.

You can also plant a container of wheatgrass yourself; it’s easy. You can find wheatberries at most health food stores. Plant them in dirt that is kept moist but not saturated. Once the first tiny blades of grass pop up, move the container to a sunny location.

Fresh catnip is another healthy option; the plant is not difficult to grow indoors. About two out of three cats go wild over catnip for its mind-altering properties (which, by the way, decrease the more that a cat is exposed to the plant). But catnip also has a decent supply of vitamins and fiber, which can aid digestion.

For best results, you may want to situate kitty’s private vegetable garden near her food and water, away from the other plants, to avoid giving mixed signals about eating plants.

Summary

  • Keep dangerous plants out of kitty’s reach.
  • Use a combination of mild deterrents as needed to make plants unappealing.
  • Create an interesting environment, with lots of playtime, to keep your cat from being bored.
  • Put cat-friendly plants like “kitty grass” in a separate area, such as near the food bowl.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Why Do Cats Knock Things Over?

How to Use Clicker Training to Keep Your Cat off the Counter

Training Your Cat To Stay Off The Kitchen Counter

How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

Cat Training: Know the Basics

How Do I Get My Cat into a Carrier?

How to Train Your Cat to Let You Sleep

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with CatHealth.com.

If you want healthy houseplants and healthy pets, sharp observation skills are your most valuable tool, says Marietta, Ga. veterinarian Michael Good.

“You have to see what might tempt your dog—think of him like an average 3-year-old human,” Good said. “For cats, do even more observation, since they can also jump and are even more curious.”

The first rule of housekeeping is simple. “Don’t give your pet access to plants you want to keep,” Good said.

That makes your second step putting houseplants where pets can’t reach them. “Carefully consider each plant,” he said. “Really know what is in your home that might be attractive to the dog or cat.”

Also, or as an alternative, secure your pets when you can’t watch them around the houseplants. In other words, any time you’re not home or are sleeping, says Good.

If your pets can’t keep away from the plants, see if you can get along without the houseplants that are toxic if they ingest them. For cats, common houseplants that can cause toxic reactions include rubber plants or ficus, various types of philodendron, dumb cane, asparagus fern, snake plants and begonias.

For dogs, just a few of the houseplants considered toxic include weeping fig, lace fern and mother-in-law plant—also called kalanchoe.

CatChannel and Cat Fancy cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger says spraying houseplants with deterrents such as Bitter Apple or lemon can ward off cats. She also recommends that pet owners choose some non-toxic houseplants from ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats. She grows non-toxic orchids, for example, so it’s not a big deal if her cats munch on the leaves.

The ASPCA maintains lists of plants poisonous for cats and for dogs.

If you’re going the route of making the plants off-limits, says Krieger on the CatChannel blog, give your cat something more appropriate to chew on. Spend more time with her, play with interactive toys and activities to do that are more fun than plant nibbling.

Inga Fricke, Director of Pet Retention Programs at the Humane Society of the United States, adds more tips at Apartment Therapy:

  1. Don’t put dangling tablecloths or runners under plants—pets might use these as tug toys.
  2. If you have cats, try putting aluminum foil, covered by a layer of soil, inside potted plants. Cats don’t like the feeling of foil under their paws.
  3. Line the rim of the planter or the edge of the shelf with double-sided tape, another material cats hate to walk on.
  4. Avoid placing plants on narrow ledges or shelves where your furry friends might knock them over. Toppled plants not only make a mess, but sharp broken edges could cut your pet’s paws.

Note: If you think that your animal may have ingested a poisonous substance, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends contacting your veterinarian or calling the AVMA 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.

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Q:

How can I stop my cat from digging in my houseplants?

A:

Great question. It’s frustrating when our wonderful cats claim a favorite houseplant as their own.

Digging is natural behavior for cats. Outdoors, they like digging in the soft, cool soil. We just don’t want our cats to dig up indoor plants.

First, if you have houseplants around your catsASPCA website for their latest list of plants that are toxic for our kitties. You might be surprised by what is on the list.

Next, think about getting them a plant of their own by planting kitty grass and catnip, which is sold in pet stores. When two of my wonderful kitties were four-month-old kittens, I planted a large area of kitty grass for them. The kitty grass was so inviting that they wanted to snooze on top of it, instead of digging in it or eating it. Either is perfectly fine for a cat to do. I have now planted the kitty grass in smaller pots so the cats can get a good dig in.

It is also easier to try to cat-proof your plants rather than to enforce a “paws-off” approach. Younger, playful cats seem to get into trouble a bit more than our older kitties, so move your houseplants out of harm’s way, perhaps on a high narrow shelf. Try placing objects around the plants to block access. Put smooth stones or pieces of crumpled aluminum foil on top of the soil to discourage digging. You might also place fresh orange peels on the soil — the citrus scent can act as a repellent. Make sure you change the orange peels regularly. Pet stores also sell repellents, but please double check that they are safe for both cats and plants. As I often say, patience and a little determination can solve nearly any cat co-habitation issue. As always, I welcome your stories and comments.

By: Jeanne Adlon

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Prevent Cats from Digging in Houseplants

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Cats make great companions and houseplant beautify our homes. But the two often clash when cats nibble on our plants and worse yet dig and use our indoor plants for a litter box. Avoid these annoying habits while protecting your cats and plants with a few simple strategies.

Avoid growing toxic plants or keep them out of your pet’s reach. The ASPCA website has an extensive list of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs. Use organic potting mixes free of chemicals and Styrofoam bits to prevent dangerous side effects when pets start digging in your containers.

Discourage digging by covering the soil surface with pebbles, large chunk mulch, pinecones or crumpled aluminum foil. Or purchase a mat designed for this purpose. These mats have prickly protrusions that prevent cats from digging in containers.

A bit more information: Apply these same principles when dealing with cats in your outdoor garden. Natural cat repellents are also available. Read and follow all label directions for the safest and most effective control.

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Why Is My Cat Digging?

As pet parents we often tend to anthropomorphize our beloved feline furballs. Or in other words – we ascribe human-like qualities to them.

Some cats tend to resemble their owners a lot. Others simply follow them around from room to room, interested in whatever their pet parents are doing. And then there’s that type of cat that likes acting like a dog – being unconditionally loyal, greeting their owners whenever they come home, performing tricks, or lounging in their laps like typical lap-dogs.

Today we’ll talk about one particular dog-like behavior – the act of digging. Wait, can cats dig like dogs do? Yes, they can. And some cats actually do this quite often.

Don’t confuse the dog-like digging with the things your kitty is doing inside its litter box when it wants to cover up its feces.

Litter box digging is usually quite normal and simply a biological instinct to cover up their business.

We’re talking about the phenomenal process of digging up a hole in potted plants, in the garden, or even in your throw pillows without the need of filling that hole with waste.

If you’ve never spotted your own feline pal doing it, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t. On the other hand, if you happen to notice the kitty digging on frequent basis – don’t worry. This dog-like behavior isn’t as rare as you think. And it definitely doesn’t mean that your cat thinks he or she is a dog!

Where Do Cats Commonly Dig?

There are a few basic spots where you might find your indoor or outdoor pet cat digging or trying to dig a hole.

  • In potted plants
  • In gardens
  • On hard floor and tiles
  • In the sand on the beach/ dirt on a lawn
  • On blankets, pillows, clothing, upholstery
  • On your bare skin

Don’t worry if any (or if all) of the above sound confusing to you. Cats are indeed whimsical and often misunderstood by their pet parents, but that doesn’t mean their actions are insane.

Why Do Cats Dig?

Biological Needs

For most cats, regardless of their age or breed, plant soil resembles cat litter. As such, even if their litter box is clean or if you’ve changed to a different type of litter, the kitty still might want to do its business in the garden or in your potted plants.

Thus, it will dig a hole, do its business and then mask its scent. Sometimes the cat may not dig before relieving itself, but only after so that it will cover up the odor.

Hiding Food

Hiding leftover prey is an inborn instinct in stray feral cats. However, some domestic ones may feel the need to hide their food, even if they’re kept strictly indoors.

But if the cat is digging inside its food bowl, its behavior is not triggered by the desire to hide a snack for later. When your pet is digging inside the bowl or on the floor around it, it either wants to find something a bit tastier than what it’s getting, or it’s just scent-marking the area around the bowl with the scent glands located on its paws.

Scent-Marking The Territory

Felines are notoriously territorial creatures. They can easily get jealous and will become fierce when trying to protect what’s theirs. As stated above, cats can dig around food or water bowls to mark the area. They can also dig on the floor just to rub off their scent without any visible reason. Yes, sometimes cats simply do that just because they can.

Hunting And Exercising

Some cats will dig up holes in the outdoors for hunting and playing purposes. Whether they’ve caught the scent of some bug or something else, if it’s sparked their interest, they’ll keep digging. Felines are among the best hunters inhabiting our planet. So if your pet is trying to hunt something, don’t worry about its strange digging habits.

What’s more, cats need to exercise on daily basis and that includes exercising their toes and claws. The designated scratching post you’ve bought isn’t always enough for them.

Affection

When your furball is digging on your bare skin, it’s actually kneading. The same goes for when it’s digging on blankets, clothing and other types of soft fabrics. Cats of all breeds and ages knead as a plea for attention and a way to express their affection. And of course, during the kneading process they are also scent-marking.

Stress

When cats get stressed out, their behavior usually becomes problematic. And whether they’re running around frantically, obsessively licking themselves, digging without explanation or doing some other puzzling things, these types of strange behavior should never be neglected.

If you’re unsure about your cat’s digging habits, don’t hesitate to call your vet. Chances are your kitty is just acting out of inborn instincts. But if its actions are caused by chronic anxiety, things could get worse. If you want to stop the digging habits in the soil, consult with a vet. He or she will tell you what types of detergents and substances you can use in order to make the soil repelling, but not poisonous to your pet.

Last Updated on April 26th, 2019

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Cats have an annoying habit of eating houseplants. And they never eat the gross, shriveled ones that are on their last legs. No, if you shelled out big bucks for a Fiddle Leaf Fig? You can bet your cat’s going to try to scale that thing to eat the leaves as soon as you bring it home.

And wait…aren’t some houseplants bad for cats?

Allowing your cat to eat plants is never advisable, because you never know exactly what kind of toxins could be hiding in the leaves. Also, plants are expensive! Here are four ways to get your cat to stop eating your houseplants.

1. Make Your Plants Stink (to Your Cat)

Cats are really, really sensitive to smell. One of the easiest ways to keep them from eating, digging, and otherwise playing with your plants is to make them smell unappetizing. There are several natural ways to do this: Cats hate the smell of citrus, for example, so try throwing a lemon peel or two into the soil of your plants (but don’t use concentrated citrus oils as it can be toxic). You could also sprinkle cayenne pepper around a plant…one sniff and your cat will back off for good.

2. Choose Plants Cats Hate

Some plants just aren’t cats’ cup of tea. Rosemary is beautiful and grows well indoors, plus it smells great! Cats disagree. Cactus, roses, and other thorny plants are smart choices because, well, they’re prickly. One pinprick to the paw and your cat will think twice about messing with them. Did you know there’s actually a real plant called Scaredy Cat? Yeah, it…uh…it scares cats.

3. Spray Your Plant’s Leaves

It’s relatively easy to find over-the-counter pet sprays that are designed specifically to keep pets away from houseplants. They’re made from non-toxic ingredients but it’s always smart to check with your vet before letting your cat near any OTC substance. As an alternative, you can always mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water and spray directly on the leaves of your plant. Your cat won’t be tempted to nom and the mixture won’t hurt your plants!

4. Place Your Plants Strategically

If it’s possible, settling your plants in the most off-limits part of your home is the easiest way to keep your cat at arm’s length. Sunny bedrooms, bathrooms, and even sun rooms work well. If that’s not an option, consider placing plants high enough your cat can’t get to them, or even hanging them in baskets from the ceiling if your cat’s a jumper. Making the plants as inaccessible as possible is your best strategy for really, truly keeping them cat-free. Just don’t forget to water them.

If your cat’s plant-eating seems to be getting more and more out of hand, talk to your vet. In a some cases, cats eat plants (or soil!) because their diet is lacking some essential nutrient. The behavior can also be a symptom of gastrointestinal issues, so it’s best to have your cat evaluated thoroughly just to be sure.

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15 Pet-Friendly Houseplants That Add Green Without the Worry

While houseplants have the ability to bring life to a room and purify the air while doing it, a drawback is that many houseplants are toxic to animals and children. We’re here to show you a number of plants that add beauty to your home without worry.

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Pet-Safe Houseplants

Keep in mind that while there are a number of plants that are technically safe for cats and dogs, it’s best to eliminate temptation and place all houseplants out of reach. It will save you from cleaning up a mess, plus prevent possible tummy aches and digestive problems in your pets. If your pet ever does ingest a plant, make sure to watch it closely for any signs of a negative reaction. Just because a plant is nontoxic for cats and dogs doesn’t mean ingesting it will make them feel good!

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1. African Violet

Want pet-safe houseplants with blooms? Look no further than African violet. This versatile, hardworking houseplant is right at home with your pets. It comes in a range of purple hues, and it’s low maintenance and thrives without bright light.

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2. Air Plant

Tillandsia varieties are modern, cool, and best of all, houseplants not toxic to pets. But beware: Cats and dogs alike will love chewing on their spindly leaves—make sure you keep them out of reach.

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3. Aluminum Plant or Watermelon Plant

The variegated gray-and-green leaves of aluminum plant make it an attractive option for the home. It’s one of many great easy-care houseplants safe for pets.

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4. Christmas Cactus

Unlike its dangerous holiday counterpart amaryllis, Christmas cacti are thankfully not poisonous houseplants for pets like cats and dogs. It may cause intestinal discomfort if ingested, but overall it’s a safer choice than many other festive plants.

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5. Some Varieties of Ferns

Identifying ferns can be a bit tricky, as there are several plants with the word “fern” in their name that are not actually part of the Pteridophyta family. True ferns such as Boston and maidenhair are fair game for pet-friendly households; beware of toxic misnomers such as asparagus fern, which is actually part of the lily family.

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6. Friendship Plant

The friendship plant is named for the ease with which it can be divided and shared—so if you happen to receive such a gift, rest assured it’s safe for your cats and dogs. But beware, pets may be especially drawn to the fuzzy, crinkly leaves.

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7. Some Herbs

Indoor herb gardens are an easy, fun way to add fresh flavor to your cooking. But not all herbs are created equal when it comes to pet safety. Standards like lavender and oregano are off-limits, but pets can handle basil, sage, and thyme.

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8. Lace Flower Vine or Chocolate Soldier

Pretty lace flower vine is an easy houseplant safe for pets that grows best in hanging baskets, out of reach of curious cats and dogs. But should an extra-persistent pet make their way into the pot, they’ll be safe.

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9. Lipstick Plant

This quirky plant with blooms that resemble tubes of lipstick is happily safe for cats and dogs alike. A native of the tropics, it thrives in bright light and loves being outside in the warmer months. Other members of the Peperomia family are also pet-friendly.

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10. Parlor Palm

Parlor palm is the perfect solution for pet owners looking to add a small tree indoors. Safe for cats and dogs, it’s also great for beginners.

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11. Phalaenopsis Orchid

The ever-common phalaenopsis orchid (the one you’re most likely to see in the floral shop) isn’t harmful to pets. But one thing to watch for: Dogs and cats who love to chew may get into trouble in the potting mix, which contains a large amount of bark.

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12. Polka Dot Plant

Polka dot plant is perfect for adding a fun splash of pattern to miniature gardens, terrariums, mixed containers, and more. Available in an array of colors such as white and pink, it’s as versatile as it is whimsical.

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13. Prayer Plant or Calathea

Prayer plant, topping out at 6-8 inches, is ideal for small spaces such as bookshelves and end tables. Its red, cream and green leaves curl up at night, giving it its name. What’s more, it’s one of the easiest houseplants you can grow.

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14. Spider Plant

This indoor gardening classic is a staple for many reasons, not to mention it’s a cat- and dog-friendly plant. A fan of both pots and hanging baskets, happy-go-lucky spider plant will thrive anywhere indoors.

Related: Propagating Spider Plants From Cuttings

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15. Some Succulents

Many of the most popular succulents—including hens and chicks, echeveria, and rosettes—aren’t problematic, but with so many varieties on the market, it’s best to research each individual plant. Jade, for example, while similar to other succulents, is actually dangerous.

  • By BH&G Garden Editors

You’ve adopted a furry feline friend, she is a wonderful companion and all is going well. It’s all cuddles, purrs and playtime. That is, until you begin to notice little chew marks on your plants or evidence that your cat has been digging in the planter.

Now you’re wondering if there is a way to have plants in your home without seeing them become your cat’s favorite snack food and/or play toy. You’ll be happy to know that with a little planning and some strategies designed to keep kitty away, you can have your plants and cat, too.

It’s All About Placement

Where you place your plants is an important part of the strategy for keeping your cat away from your plants. But where can you put them to keep them safely away from teeth and claws? After all, cats can, and do, climb up to high places, so placing your plants on a high shelf might not do the trick.

One safe place for your plants is in a hanging basket. Plants hung in high places with nothing around for your cat to climb on to reach them will eliminate the problem. You may see her sitting underneath the plant, looking longingly at the leaves and vines. But without a way to climb up, your plants will be safely out of her grasp. This is an especially good strategy if you have plants that might be poisonous to your cat, but you caught those when you cat-proofed your home, right?

Make The Plants Unappealing

Another good strategy is to make the plants unappealing to your cat’s taste buds. Cats often enjoy the taste of plants, which is why they return again and again to nibble. Because cats don’t like the taste or smell of citrus, mix together water with lemon, lime or orange juice, and then spritz this on your plants. Often, the smell of the citrus is enough to keep your cat away. If she does nibble, one taste of citrus should prevent further plant snacking.

If the smell and taste of the citrus don’t keep her away, try using vinegar. Spraying vinegar on your plants might harm them, so soak cotton balls in a water and vinegar solution and place them on top of the soil. The smell of the vinegar will keep your cat away and break her habit of eating or playing in the plants.

Sometimes it’s not the eating of the plants that is the problem, but rather it’s the planter itself that attracts your cat. You may find her digging in soil, thinking the dirt is another litter box for her. Be sure the soil your plant is potted in does not resemble the texture of her kitty litter. Also, try using decorative rocks on top of the soil to derail your cat’s ability to dig into the planter.

Give Your Cat Her Own Plants

If your cat simply cannot resist the tender leaves of young plants, then give her a garden of her own to eat. There are plenty of tender, young plants you can offer to your cat that are safe, and even good, for her. Catnip is, of course, the plant of choice in the feline world, along with pet grass you can find at a pet supply retailer. Some cats are also attracted to the scent of mint, so your cat might also enjoy a peppermint plant. Put these plants in some of your cat’s favorite places to lounge, and she’ll soon forget all about your houseplants.

Schedule Daily Cat Playtime

Often it’s the motion of swinging vines and leaves that your cat cannot resist. Cats who are bored and have pent-up energy will attack plants with long dangling vines in the same way they would go after prey. Daily play sessions with your cat will help alleviate her boredom. Use a feather wand or fishing pole-type cat toys that she can chase as you wave it around. It should only take five to 10 minutes of intense vigorous play to get her to the point of exhaustion. Also, be sure your cat has enough solo cat toys to keep her engaged and away from the plants (and other trouble) while you are at work.

Distraction And Aversion Techniques

If you do find your cat going after your plants, distracting her from her mission is the goal. Toss a soft toy to her so she’ll be distracted and go after the toy instead. If you have no toy handy, clap your hands and loudly say her name or “No!” to get her attention. She will stop what she was doing or forget what she was about to do. Use of a squirt from a water bottle to deter cats from going after your plants is a last resort to be used only when all else fails; and never aim for the face.

Once your cat learns that eating and playing with your plants is unacceptable and even unpleasant, she will stop doing it. It will take time and patience for her to learn, but with consistency and repetition, she will forget all about how fun and delicious she once found your plants.

By: Rita Reimers

Featured Image: Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio

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Tips for Repelling Cats

Cats can be a real nuisance around your garden and home. Whether they are your cats, your neighbors, or just wild cats roaming the neighborhood, cats can make real pests of themselves. In the process of digging in your flower beds, cats may destroy plants and seedlings. Cats often decide that your flower box or flower bed is the perfect litter box. The odor is annoying and the mess they leave behind is disgusting! Sometimes cats decide that your car hood is the perfect resting place and they don’t care about scratching your car in the process of jumping up and down. Whatever your cat problem, there are many ways to repel cats.

“After about five days usage, “I Must Garden…” stopped a few cats from using my alley as a pit stop. Prior to its application, cat droppings were appearing several times a week over a three-week period on my property but fortunately, “I Must Garden” ended it. Product was easy to apply, practically odorless, and did not leave any stains on concrete. The company states that “I Must Garden” is made from all natural essential oils, so there is no danger of harm to plants or animals. It’s a terrific buy that eliminated an annoying problem in about two weeks”

Repel cats with physical objects

One of the reasons cats enjoy going into garden beds is the soft dirt, which they dig into before using the bathroom (similar to how they use a litter box). Placing physical objects like plastic forks (tines facing upwards), wooden popsicle sticks, or chopsticks into the soil can help discourage this damaging behavior. Push the objects into the soil every 5-8 inches, or experiment to find a placement pattern that is effective for you. The idea is not to harm the cats, but simply make digging inconvenient. This approach can be effective by itself, but it is made much stronger with the addition of I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellent. Cats find the All-Natural ingredients in our repellent highly irritating, and will avoid any area that is regularly treated.

Tip: Use brown or black plastic forks to create a more aesthetic deterrent!

Repel cats with plants

One plant that is particularly good at repelling cats is Ruta Graveolens, or Rue. Rue is a semi-woody perennial that grows to about 2-3 feet high and wide. Rue has gray-green foliage and clusters of small yellow flowers in summer. It is hardy in zones 4-9. Rue prefers full sun and, once established, can grow in poor soils and hot dry sites. Rue will repel cats from the area in which it grows. In addition, you can sprinkle the leaves of dried rue in flower pots or other areas you would like to protect from cats. If you plan on planting some Rue, but need to stop cat damage immediately, considering spraying your plants with I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellent. Our repellent offers long-lasting protection for any treated plants without causing any harm to animals or vegetation.

Repel cats with citrus or coffee grounds

Cats don’t like the smell of citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons. Try scattering citrus peels in your garden beds to keep cats out. You may have to experiment a little to see just how much, and how often, you will need to reapply the peels to keep cats away!

One other home remedy to repel cats that people have had success with, is to sprinkle used coffee grounds in their garden. Once again, you would have to experiment on just how much would be satisfactory to repel cats.

Discourage cats from using your garden bed as a litter box

Let’s face it! The reason cats are in your garden to begin with, is that they like your soil. So in order to repel cats you have to make your soil less appealing. There are several things you can do to keep cats out of your soil. You can add more plants to your garden, which would eventually cover the exposed soil making it too much of a nuisance for cats to dig in. Covering your soil with chunky mulch, river rocks or attractive pebbles is another method used to keep cats out of garden beds. If you’ve recently seeded a flower bed, protect the bed with wire mesh or netting to hide the attractive loose soil from the cats.

Get a dog to repel cats

Unless raised together, most cats will stay away from dogs. Chances are, if you have a dog roaming around the garden with you, you won’t have a cat problem. One other technique that you may want to try, which is certainly less time consuming and expensive than owning a dog, is to collect dog hair from friends who own dogs. Scatter the dog hair in the flowerbeds to repel cats.

Install a motion activated sprinkler

A motion activated sprinkler will harmlessly spray a cat when it passes in front of it. It will also spray mailmen and delivery men so you must be careful in directing the spray.

Throw water on cats

Cats hate being sprayed with water. Conditioning cats to avoid your garden beds by consistently spraying or pouring water on them can be a time consuming defense strategy, but one that eventually takes care of your cat problem for good. For 24/7 protection, apply I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellent to protect your plants when you’re not around to douse those pesky cats

Repel cats from trees

Cats will readily use young trees as scratching posts. To protect the trunks from cats, wrap the tree trunks in wire mesh or netting. Plastic tree guards may also be purchased to protect your trees.

Repel cats from ponds

Netting may have to be placed over a pond to keep cats away from fish. Netting should be checked regularly for rips and repaired as necessary.

Use I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellent to keep cats out of your garden

I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellent offers pet-safe protection against dog and cat damage. Designed to smell pleasant to humans and offensive to cats, you can protect your plants without fear of foul odors or dangerous chemicals. It is available in two unique options – a Liquid Repellent to prevent chewing and gnawing, and a Granular Repellent to prevent digging. Both options are totally harmless to animals, but will put an end to their destructive habits. I Must Garden Dog & Cat Repellents are people and pet friendly and safe for the environment too!

Breaking established habits requires more aggressive applications of repellent. Generously sprinkle or spray I Must Garden Repellent frequently during your initial applications, and continue regular applications to maintain control. Always remove fecal matter from garden beds and surrounding areas before treating.

We want you to be satisfied with every purchase from I Must Garden, if you have any questions or concerns please contact us

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