Most plant and pet owners will agree that discovering a half-eaten houseplant or a toppled plant shelf can be devastating. Some cat owners even accept defeat and get rid of their plants after one of these incidents. Thankfully, there are tons of tricks you can try to outsmart your feline and keep your plants safe. This article will discuss some of those tricks, plus help you figure out which ones are toxic to cats.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Does My Cat Keep Eating My Houseplants?
There are many theories that speculate why cats like to eat plants. Although we’ll never be able to solve the mystery of what our mischievous cats are thinking, we have a pretty good idea.
Cats are carnivores for the most part, but they do like to munch on foliage in the wild. Experts think they do this for extra nutrients, like fiber or vitamins. It’s also possible that they simply like the taste of some plants.
Most cat owners know how much damage a cat can do when they’re bored. Every cat is different, however.
While some cats like to chase bugs or knock things off of shelves, others look for plants to get into. The houseplants with long, dangly leaves like spider plants or ferns are especially fun for cats since the leaf movement appeals to their natural hunting instincts.
How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating My Plants?
Many strategies exist to keep your cats from eating your plants. The tactics you employ will depend on your cat, your home, and your preferences. Here are some possible fixes:
Buy (Or Grow) Your Cat a Plant
This is a great trick that is successful for many cat owners. If your furry friend is obsessed with one particular non-toxic plant, such as your peperomia, consider buying an extra and putting it in your cat’s space.
If your cat has their own designated plant to chew on near the cat tree or toys, they may focus on that one instead.
You can also try growing a cat-friendly plant from seed. Many pet stores and garden centers sell cat grass, which is a popular kitty-pleaser.
Use Objects To Deter Your Cat
Another strategy is to make your plant difficult to get to or unpleasant to be near. This can be done by putting things on or around the soil, such as:
- Forks in the soil (pointy ends up): Sharp objects surrounding the plant will make your cat think twice about going near it.
- Double-sided tape: Cats usually don’t like stepping on sticky things, so putting some tape in the area they would need to walk to get to the plant is a good way to deter them.
- Aluminum foil: Many cats despise the noise foil makes as well as how it feels under their feet. If you don’t mind how it looks, you can try surrounding the pot with soil so your cat will avoid the area.
- Chicken wire: Cut off access to the plant altogether by wrapping chicken wire around the pot. Your cat should figure out that the material won’t support its weight, and likely won’t try to infiltrate it.
Spray a Repellant
Many cat owners swear by using unpleasant odors to ward off plant-eaters. Here are some scents that most cats avoid at all costs:
- Vinegar (make sure it’s diluted so it doesn’t harm your plant)
- Anything citrusy
- Cayenne peppers
- Bitter apple (sold in spray-form at many pet stores)
Keep Toxic Plants Out of Reach
Even when you’re confident that your cat will leave your plant alone, they could surprise you one day. For that reason, it’s better to place toxic plants in areas where your cat can’t reach them.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of creative methods for elevating your houseplants. Try one of the following:
- Hang plants from a curtain rod, ceiling hook, or a wall hook that extends a few inches out from the wall. Bonus points if you know how to make your own macrame hangers!
- Install some floating shelves in a bright room.
- Put plants on a tall shelf that is inaccessible to your cat.
- If you’re feeling crafty, find an old cabinet to repurpose into a plant shelf, as long as your cat won’t be able to get inside.
Whichever solution you choose for relocating your plants, make sure they will continue to receive the appropriate amount of light and humidity in their new location. If not, you can always supplement with a grow light and/or a humidifier.
Which Plants are Harmful to Cats?
Many plant owners don’t even realize that some of their plants could make their pets sick, and some find out the hard way, unfortunately. When you get a new plant, consider making it part of your routine to look up the toxicity to animals.
Here are some examples of common plants to keep away from your curious kitties, according to the ASPCA:
- Aloe: Can cause vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. The gel inside of the leaves is considered safe for cats to consume.
- Alocasia: Can cause pain and swelling in the mouth, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
- Pothos: Can cause Oral irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
- Chinese Evergreen: Can cause oral irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
- Begonia: Can cause kidney failure, vomiting, and drooling.
- Snake Plant: Can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Dieffenbachia: Can cause burning and irritation in the mouth, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
- Marijuana: Can cause depression, vomiting, incoordination, drowsiness or irritability, low blood pressure, low temperature, seizure, coma, or death.
- English Ivy: Can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, and diarrhea.
- Peace Lily: Can cause oral irritation and burning, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
If you suspect your pet has eaten a plant that is poisonous, or you’re not sure of the toxicity, call Animal Poison Control as soon as possible for instructions at 1-888-426-4435.
If your cat (or dog) is sick, or poison control advises a vet visit, make sure you know the name of the plant they ate. If you’re not sure, bring a sample of the plant with you.
Owning pets and plants simultaneously can sometimes seem like an overwhelming responsibility. Luckily, there are many resources and solutions available for any issues that crop up.
For persistent troublemakers, you can always stock up on non-toxic plants. Here’s a great video that details several pet-safe options:
And if you’re looking for more tips how to protect your plants from animals, here is our guide to mice.