If you are both a plant person and a cat person, you will most likely go to great lengths to experience the best of both worlds at home. But what happens when one of your favorite things becomes detrimental to the others? This article will help you figure out why your fur-child is pooping in your houseplants and offer tips on reaching cat-plant harmony.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Pooping In My Plants?
As soon as you discover cat feces or urine in your plant, your first instinct is no doubt to stop the behavior immediately. However, in order to find an effective solution, the priority should be to figure out the root cause of the issue.
Here are some of the many reasons a cat may boycott their litterbox:
- Health Issues: Felines are notorious for masking pain and discomfort. Even if they are acting normal otherwise, your cat could still have a urinary issue that’s causing them to seek a more comfortable bathroom space.
- New Litter: If you switched litter brands recently and subsequently noticed your cat pooping in your houseplants, it could be a sign that your cat isn’t a fan of the change. They may not like how the litter feels on their paws or the way it smells, and would rather use soil.
- Their litter box is dirty: Some cats have no problem using a box that has been frequented for a day or two. Others turn up their nose at a soiled litter box – especially when other cats are using it as well.
- New discovery: Cats are curious by nature and are always down for new adventures. It’s possible that your cat only recently discovered that your plant’s soil was potty-worthy.
- Stress: Sometimes cats express their stress by avoiding the litter box. Potential causes of environmental stress might include a new pet or loss of a pet, moving to a new home, or new house-guests.
How Do I Stop My Cats From Using Potted Plants as a Litter Box?
Many cat owners have given away plants that are too appealing to their furry friends, not knowing how to prevent the problem. But there is plenty of troubleshooting that you can try before you make any final decisions:
Ask a Vet
Anytime your cat poops or pees outside of the litterbox, and you aren’t sure why, it’s worth a quick call to your vet’s office. They’ll ask you for more details and let you know whether they recommend an appointment.
If your cat has any other symptoms such as problems eating or drinking, or changes in behavior, they may want you to set up a visit to rule out any medical issues.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
See if changing the frequency in which you clean the litter box will help. Experts usually recommend cleaning waste at least daily. You can also try to change out the litter completely and clean the inside of the box more often to freshen things up.
Change Your Litter
If you changed litter brands recently, your cat may be letting you know that they don’t appreciate the change. You can try switching back to the old litter or trying another brand altogether.
Get Another Box
The general rule of thumb for litter boxes is to have one box per cat, plus one more. For example, if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes.
Also, if you have multiple levels in your home, you may want to have at least one litter box on each floor.
- Many cat owners have successfully deterred furry friends from their houseplants by using some of these household products that cats don’t like to come in contact with:
- Forks in the soil (business end up), bamboo sticks, or chopsticks
- Mesh or cardboard covering the soil (while leaving enough room for air circulation)
- Chicken wire shaped to fit around the pot
- Aluminum foil placed loosely over the soil
- Double-sided tape, or regular tape that’s sticky-side up
- Repellant: Cats dislike the smell of vinegar, cinnamon, black pepper, citrus, and many more household items. Just be sure that whatever you choose is not harmful if it’s accidentally inhaled or ingested.
Keep in mind that if you choose to have something covering a plant’s soil, make sure it’s not detrimental to your plant in terms of airflow. Placing heavy things on top of the soil or covering it completely can make it difficult for the soil to drain/dry out properly.
For more suggestions of how to keep your cats away from your houseplants, check out this YouTube video:
How To Neutralize Cat Urine in Houseplants?
Aside from the gross factor of your cat using your beautiful houseplant as a toilet, kitty waste can be harmful to the health of your plants. Cat urine contains high amounts of nitrogen, which is actually a good fertilizer for plants – in small quantities.
When cat urine sits in the soil around your plant, the end result is essentially the same as fertilizer burn. It needs to be diluted as soon as possible to avoid damage.
Many pet owners automatically replace the soil once this happens, but it’s not necessary and can lead to further damage to an already weakened plant. As long as you give the plant a thorough rinse and replenish some nutrients, the soil should be fine.
To rinse the soil and dilute the cat urine, you can use a hosepipe with a gentle spray to rinse the soil for a couple of minutes, making sure that the water is running all the way through the pot.
Tip: Since this also flushes out beneficial nutrients from the soil, you may want to use a small amount of diluted plant food after you rinse.
You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to replace the soil after finding cat feces, either. However, you don’t want it to sit in the soil, so remove the waste along with any soil that was touching it.
All in all, cat pee or poop isn’t the worst thing that could happen to your plant and is easily remedied as long as you figure out how to outsmart your feline (sometimes easier said than done).
Although you might be horrified by the unpleasant discovery, your plants should bounce back after their stint as an impromptu litter box. If you’re looking for more related advice, here is our guide to plants and kids.