So, you've a new place and I want to fill it with plants. But you'd also like to get a cat. How do you keep your cats out of your houseplants? Is it even doable? Find out 7 effective ways to Safeguarding Plants from Cats in this post!
Living with a cat can be annoying at times: chairs are scratched up and clothes are torn down. While they are lovable creatures, they cannot help themselves in being behaved.
However, it is a different story to be both a cat and plant lover. Cats love to play with plants and they sometimes ruin the plant’s leaves or break the pot by tipping it off an edge.
If you want to have both a garden and a pet, here are ways on how to keep cats away from houseplants.
Why do cats love playing with plants?
If there are plants that cats do not like, there are also plants that they like the most. Some of these are the well-known Nepeta cataria or catnip, Valeriana officinalis or valeria, and Teucrium marum or cat thyme.
Cats will either play with this plants or even munch it. So, why do cats love playing with plants?Plants like catnip have a chemical compound inside it called nepetalactone.
This compound causes a stir-up in the cat’s brain comparable to release of pheromones. Younger cats are attracted less to the plant since their olfactory glands and brain have not reached peak maturity yet.
Generally, cats like plants not because they want to eat it but more of a satisfaction gained from the plant. It can be the taste of the leaf or the texture of it, cats like to nibble around plants that provide them a different feel.
How do I train my cat to not eat plants?
When all these tips do not work in repelling the cat, you can always condition your cat’s behavior.
Example, every time your cat approaches a plant, blow a horn or call him/her out. You can also use a small condensed air blower or water spray bottle for the “punishment” to be a bit felt physically by the cat.
If you do not have the patience and time to keep an eye on your cat, you can put empty cants around a plant.
When your pet goes near the plant, he/she will tip off the cans and the cans will make noise after falling. This will surely scare your cat away.
Also, you should remember that cats are social creatures too. Maybe the reason why they keep eating your plants is because they do not get enough food or enough time from you. Schedule regular play times with your cat and see how it affects their behavior.
How to Keep Cats Away From Plants?
Cats are naturally curious creatures that are both smart and flexible to roam around. Here are cat and plant-friendly solutions you can try to keep cats away from houseplants.
- Surround The Plant With Cat-Unfriendly Surfaces
- Cat Repellent Automatic Sprinkler
- Make and use homemade Cat Repellents
- Plant Rosemary Or Other Plants Cats Dislike
- Keep Plants Away From Cats
- Surround Your Garden With Chicken Wire
- Cage Your Cat
Surround The Plant With Cat-Unfriendly Surfaces
A favorite method in preventing cats from playing with your plant is putting a sheet of foil around the plant. Foil crumples too easily and is noisy which can deter some cats.
Also, if you have a carpet in your house, you probably have carpet protectors too. For those who have no idea, carpet protectors is a plastic layer which protects the carpet from rubbing too much against the floor and also to keep it in place.
Flip the carpet protector so the spiky surface is facing up and put the plant above it. No cat or any other house pet would like their paws being poked.
Cat Repellent Automatic Sprinkler
If you are considering to buy an automatic sprinkler, chances are you have a large garden and serious with it (most likely you are selling crops and fruits). Installing sprinklers for the sole purpose of scaring away the cat from the garden is costly.
Once you have a sprinkler, do not expect to fully keep the cat away since sprinklers just have times during the day when it activates.
For the times that it is off, you have to figure out how to control your cat. You can follow the first or second tip.
However, animals tend to develop a habit of not approaching areas that scare them. Simply put, if your cat has been hit by the sprinkler many times, he/she will stay out of your garden as an effect.
Make and Use Homemade Cat Repellents
Commercial cat repellent can be bought from your local pet store or hardware shop. However, if you fear that this could harm your plants and cat, you can always try making a homemade cat repellent.
Usually, cat repellents are made from plant extracts. These extracts are obtained from plants that cats dislike (which will be discussed in the next section).
Example, you can try making the traditional cat repellent made with orange, lemon, and lavender.
What you need are
- 3 drops of lemon essential oil
- 2 drops of wild orange essential oil
- 3 drops of lavender essential oil.
You can always dilute it with water and put it in a spray bottle so you can just spray the repellent on the plants. Since it is made from natural oils, it is safe to both the plants and cat.
Plant rosemary or other plants cats dislike
Plants that cats dislike are different from plants that could poison them. Cat Deterrent Plants are just plants that these animals find because of their smell.
The king in these types of plants is the Plectranthus caninus or the Scaredy Cat. There are no scientific basis on this plant being an effective cat-repellent yet but it is widely suggested by online blogs and even veteran gardeners.
Ruta graveolens, common-rue, or herb-of-grace is also another effective plant to keep the cats away. It is also used for organic medicines, as a condiment, and even insect repellent.
keep plants away from cats
For indoor plants, you can always use shelves to keep the plants safe from the cat. However, this is not guaranteed against more adventurous cats that like to roam around the house.
You can spray the shelves with a repellent. Also, do not put heavy plants on your shelves since they can fall off (either by the cat or not) and cause injury and breakage.
Meanwhile, you can also hang your plants using suspended racks in semi-outdoor places like the garage or craft room. This is more safe from the cats since there is no physical way for them to get to the rack.
Surround Your Garden With Chicken Wire
Using chicken wire to keep your cats away from your plants is one of the most efficient way to do it. It is easy and cheap to install, durable enough for multiple attempts by the cat, and can be reused for other purposes.
You could try to make your garden hard to reach by both using chicken wire and raising your garden via a deck or bed. This provides additional height to the plants that some cats cannot reach.
Some chicken wires are made from clothing or plastic. This is a good option too instead of the one made from metal when you want something lightweight and quick to install and remove.
Cage Your Cat
Nobody wants to cage their pet but when your cat is doing serious damage to your garden, it is time to reconsider.
This is a foolproof method in keeping your cat away from your plants since the cat is stuck inside a cage.
We do not recommend caging your cat permanently since this could cause unwanted effects to the cat. Rather, do it seldomly when no one is manning the garden.
Putting your cat in a cage has also a good effect: toilet training. This keeps your cat disciplined when it comes to his/her waste. Who knows? Maybe this type of training makes your cat mindful of the garden now.
If you intend to plant a garden then get a cat (or whichever comes first), you have to know that cats are naturally curious creatures that will explore your plants if not stopped.
There will always be various methods to keep the cat away from your plants, both temporarily or permanently. However, if there is little disturbance to the garden caused by the cat, you can leave the cat alone and let it roam freely.
Obviously, if you are reading this guide, you love both your plants and cats. These solutions that we have presented can be applied in most households and definitely will not hurt the cat, the plants, and you.
Amber Bogdanowicz grew up in Pennsylvania where she attends Bloomsburg as a Molecular Biology student. She has grown up on the farm and planting under alternative methods, doing things the old-fashioned way through organic farming. Her website Biology Thinktank where she write about ecology, agriculture, and sustainability.