How To Keep Your Cat From Digging In Your Indoor Plants


Do you have a determined plant-destroyer? Is no poor, innocent plant safe from the furry Plant Menace that dwells within your home? We've got some tips and tricks to help protect your indoor plants from their arch-nemesis: THE CAT. 

milton the cat comic

It's difficult enough as it is to keep indoor plants green and healthy - when you add a curious cat into the mix, it can get even more difficult.

Cats love to munch and crunch the leaves, dig (and do their "business") in the dirt, and even lie on top of the plants until they wilt. It's enough to make any plant's leaves tremble in fear.

So, how do we keep our cat's paws (and mouths) off the plants? 

While the main objective is to try to protect your plants from your cats, it also has the added benefit of protecting your cat from the plant, too.

Did you know that many common houseplants can be toxic to cats if ingested? And even nontoxic plants can cause indigestion and upset tummies in our furry friends.

Here is a list of 20 cat-friendly houseplants you can safely keep in your home. 


1. Make the plant unappealing

Most cats have a natural dislike for the smell and taste of citrus. You can place orange and lemon peels in the pots of your plants to keep curious kitties away. You can also spray the leaves directly with diluted lemon juice or orange oil, but be careful with plants that may be sensitive. 

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.

Another natural alternative is to sprinkle the soil or area around the leaves with cayenne pepper as a natural deterrent that won't harm your cat. One sniff of that and they won't soon come back! 

Another way to dissuade your nosy cats is to make the environment around the plant unappealing. Aluminum foil or sandpaper can make an unpleasant surface to walk on, which may persuade your cats to find their entertainment elsewhere. Double-sided tape may also do the trick as they don't like the sticky feel on their paws. 


2. Make somewhere else MORE appealing

Cats are very territorial creatures that like to have a place to call their own; some cats may even scratch on the bark or stalks of plants as a way to mark their territory (the same reason they may scratch on your furniture). 

Once you've made the plant unappealing, it's time to make somewhere else in your home MORE appealing. Cats are natural climbers and crave vertical space: consider adding a cat tree to your home.

Cat trees offer places to scratch, climb, play, and of course catnap. If you know your cat likes to window gaze, place the cat tree by their favorite window so they can watch birds or squirrels - much more riveting than a boring ol' plant! 


3. Make it hard to access

It almost goes without saying that part of keeping your houseplants safe from your cat is keeping it out of their reach. But that can be difficult with cats, being that they are natural climbers and can often be extremely determined to reach what they can't have. When it comes to cat-proofing your plants, it's important to understand your cat and their abilities. 

For climbing kitties, opt for a hanging basket that is not near any other furniture that can be used as a launch pad. Consider containers that can be mounted directly to the wall (without a shelf) and positioned out of reach so your cat can't easily jump up and position themselves on a shelf. 


Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels


For cats that like to dig in the soil, try adding a layer of heavy pebbles to the top of the soil. Be careful not to pack it too tightly so it still allows water to drain through to the soil underneath. Or, cover the soil in wire mesh If you don't like the look of pebbles or stone mulch, get artsy and creative with it!

You can use pieces of sea glass, marbles, seashells or even broken ceramics to get a more decorative look. 

Also consider why your cat may be opting to use the plant instead of the litter box. Maybe they prefer a more natural, dirt-like litter without a scent. Maybe you need to scoop more often - cats don't like a stinky litter box anymore than we do! 

Depending on the number of cats you have in your home, you may even need more litter boxes - it may be getting too crowded come litter box time. It is recommended to have one box per cat, plus 1 extra. 


4. Give them a plant of their own

If you really can't keep your cats out of your plants, give them a ... sacrificial offering...aka a cat-safe plant they can happily munch away on - like cat grass.

Featured in our Tom Cat Mug, is cat grass, a type of cereal grain, also known as oat or wheat grass. It's loaded with vitamins and known to contain certain immune-boosting properties. Cat grass is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow, making it possible for both indoor and outdoor cats to enjoy!

Place them strategically throughout the home to offer some grazing range well away from your other houseplants.


Do you have any tried-and-true methods for keep your cats out of your houseplants? Let us know in the comments!  


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