How to keep cats out of indoor plants

Indoor plants not only beautify your home but also aid in purifying the air in its environment and therefore, more and more people in recent times have developed an inclination towards bringing plants into their homes. Let us check out how to keep cats out of indoor plants or how to keep cats away from plants.

If you are the owner of an indoor plant garden and a parent to a pet especially a feline, there is a certain amount of attention and care that needs to be taken.

Cats love plants and conduct various activities like chewing on the leaves of the plants, playing with them, and in the process knocking them over.

keep cats out of indoor plants
cats in garden

They even end up using house plants as their personal litter box!

Many gardeners have worked their way around to solve this problem so that we as pet parents don’t have to face the tough decision of choosing between keeping either the indoor plants or the cats in our homes.

How to keep cats out of indoor plants

Here is an elaborate list of procedures on how you can keep cats out of indoor plants

#1- A spray bottle with water

This is the easiest way to keep cats out of the indoor plants. Keep a water filled spray bottle handy and whenever you notice your cat going for the plant, spray some water on the pet.

Make this a part of the cat’s training process, and soon you will notice that just the action of you picking up the spray bottle will have the desired effect and make your feline immediately stop what it is doing.

This is a very basic training method, and there is no guarantee that your cat will get repelled by the spray of water and would not want to come near your plants especially when you are not around. This spraying of water method is also inappropriate for people who do not spend much time at home because their absence will present ample opportunity for the cat to indulge in mischief.

#2- Repellent spray

If the water-based spray does not work on your rather stubborn cat; try using a cat repellent spray on your indoor plants instead. There are various such strong-smelling repellants available in the markets that help to put off your cat from surfaces and items around the house. Cats especially hate strong smells and these repellent sprays ensure that your cat keeps away.

There are many DIY home-made options too that can be prepared by using day-to-day ingredients found in your home. Once such cat repellent spray is prepared at home by mixing a strong perfumed liquid soap such as lavender, citrus or eucalyptus with water or for a strong pungent effect you can mix garlic paste with water.

Both these do a good job of repelling cats. Another repellant can be prepared by putting together rosemary, cinnamon, tangerine, or lavender essential oil, with some vinegar. Since you cannot be sure of the particular ingredient that repels your cat, this concoction has an advantage with so many different ingredients present in it, you are assured of the fact that at least one of them would work.

Another common and safe to use repellant is the bitter apple spray which cats are known to absolutely detest! And it is quite safe for your plants too!

In any case, with any repellant that you decide to go with, it is always advisable to test the same on a few leaves first, lest you destroy your plants in the process of trying to save them from your furry pets.

#3- Keeping the indoor plants covered

Adding a layer of stone mulch to the soil of the plant container is a great idea and works well in most cases. This stops your cat from digging into the soil and loosening it for the purpose of litter.

How to keep cats out of indoor plants

Other decorative materials like smooth glass, broken ceramic, pine cones, decorative stones, marbles, vase filler pebbles, faux moss rocks, and even seashells can also be used to create a barrier between the cat and the soil of the plant’s container.

Caution has to be exercised while packing the soil to ensure that there is enough space for the water to seep into the soil through the barriers.

The most commonly used materials to cover the pots of plants to keep cats from destroying them are aluminum foil, chicken wires, and double-sided tapes. It is advisable to remain cautious when using double-sided tape as many cats try to chew it off!

These options might not appeal to your aesthetic sense but having experienced their effectiveness makes gardeners advocate for them.

In the case of smaller plants, you can completely block off the entire plant from the cat’s reach by creating a mini indoor greenhouse, placing the plants in ornamental bird cages, or protecting them with the use of attractive glass cloches or covering them up with an appealing wire plant cover.

#4- Relocate your indoor plants

This is probably the best solution for both the plants and your cat. Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds especially if your cat is persistent and agile which most cats are known for. The best locations for your indoor plants to be as far away as possible from your cats would be either placed in hanging baskets or on a difficult to reach windowsill or a ledge.

Ultimately, it is a question of trial and error for you to come up with the right spot. 

#5- Create an unpleasant surrounding

In the worst-case scenario, you are left with no option but to resort to creating fear in your cat through sound and motion. This becomes possible by placing some objects like tin plates, cans or wind chimes near the plant.

While jumping around the plant, without realizing the cat encounters a loud noise which in turn startles it. Repetitive incidents such as this can condition the cat to not go to that spot again.

Creating a sticky surface around the pot using a double-sided tape will give an unpleasant experience to your cat and deter it from going near the plant.

#6- Clean and change the litter box regularly

One of the reasons for your cat to be attacking your indoor plants might be due to a dirty litter box. Whereas sometimes, these finicky little felines outgrow their existing litter boxes.

In either case, keeping the litter box clean or a change of the litter box might stop your cat from going into your house plants.

#7- Keeping designated plants for your cats

This may prove to be worth a try! Grow some mint, catnip, lemon balm, thyme, or a mix of oat or barley grass all of which the cats love and keep these containers specifically for your cat to chew on.

These plants are perfectly safe for your cat and in this way, you will keep your cat busy and distracted with these plants while keeping your other not-so-cat-friendly indoor plants protected and out of reach or out of interest!

#8- Growing indoor plants that cats are sure not to chew on

A safe and simple way of keeping cats out of indoor plants is to grow plants that the cats tend to dislike, some due to their smell and the others because of their thorns.

Cats are not particularly fond of plants such as the Rosemary for its strong fragrance, the Coleus canines also known as the Scaredy Cat Plant for its strong odor and the Cactus or Rose plant because of the thorns that they possess.

#9- Cats hate the scent of citrus

By simply placing lemon or orange peels in your indoor plant containers can keep your cats away. Felines are known to hate the citrus smell and this is a natural and alternative way to keep cats out of indoor plants.

On the other hand, you can also prepare a mixture of lemon or orange juice which is diluted with water and spray it on the leaves of the plant.

#10- Ingredients that you must avoid

Sometimes, without realizing people use vinegar and water-based mix to spray on the leaves of their indoor plants to keep pets away. Whilst this mixture might give you the desired effect and is safe for you and your cat, the leaves of the plant might not react favorably to vinegar.

An extreme measure that can be adopted (it’s a primeval method used to get children to stop biting their nails!) is to sprinkle some red chili powder around your house plants but this could affect your cat adversely so be cautious when you decide to go ahead with this.

Don’t take up this method if you are not spending much time at home.

An important point to make note of when exploring the ways various on how to keep cats out of indoor plants is to never use any mixture as a repellent for your cats which contains ingredients such as mothballs or cayenne pepper.

While the mothballs are highly toxic not only for the cats but for us as human beings too, the cayenne pepper will burn the cat’s feet, tongue and sometimes even the eyes

How to keep cats away from plants outdoors

Cats and plants cannot be left in each other’s company unattended. Because it is such a difficult task to keep these frisky felines away from plants, gardeners have come up with some creative ideas to solve this problem and ensure that you enjoy the best of both worlds!

keep cats out of garden

Below mentioned are some of the tried and tested ideas where your outdoor plants and cats can co-exist:

#1- Creating a prickly surface around your plants

Cats like smooth surfaces to walk on, so to keep them away from the plants in your outdoor garden, you can choose to create an uneven prickly surface around your plants.

This can be done by placing twigs, pine cones, stone mulch, dried leaves, or by laying chicken wires, or plastic covers around your plants.

By adding a layer of lattice fencing above the ground even before the seeds are planted can works well to keep the cats away and disinterested in this garden area.

#2- The presence of strong scents

Cats, in general, dislike strong smells like that of rue, lavender, pennyroyals, and lemon or thyme amongst many others.

Citrus smells especially repel cats, thus strewing some peels of lemon and oranges on your garden soil can be of great use and also work as great and natural compost! Another idea that can be implemented is to sprinkle brewed coffee beans or pipe tobacco on the soil to keep these cats out of the way.

However, while opting for this method you need to be careful with coffee beans as they can prove to be toxic for the cats. A lesser-known fact is that cats hate the scent of human hair and this can be used to our advantage.

You can empty your hairbrushes outdoors near your plants instead of the dustbin. These are, of course, homemade and natural remedies besides which there are many other options of synthetic cat repellants found in the market, in some cases, the ones containing predator urine.

#3- Washing your garden area

Regular washing of your garden area which is frequently visited by your cats will distract the furry animals as the familiar smells will be eradicated with the use of water mixed with maybe some fragrant, plant-friendly detergent.

Water sprinklers are an effective way of keeping the cats out of your outdoor plants. Sometimes, startling the cats with water from your garden hose can work wonders and prompt them to never return to cause any planned destruction.

#4- Fencing and creating a barrier

Cordoning off your outdoor garden with a wire-mesh fence or a low-voltage wire fence will create the much-needed barrier to keep cats away from your plants.

These are effective without causing any harm to the cats. Wooden chopsticks, plastic forks, plant spikes, or any other such material can be pushed into the soil around the plants to create stakes in between them leaving not much space for the cats to move around thus deterring them from entering that area and destroying your plants.

#5- The use of sound

Being ultra-sensitive to sound, cats refrain from visiting any such place where they are exposed to fluctuating sound frequencies.

Placing wind chimes, motion-sensitive bells and even stones and pebbles in jars may make a rattling sound around your plants and in turn act as a great way to keep the cats away.

In fact, there some motion-activated devices that are available in the markets and can be pretty effective too.

#6- Building a designated space for your cats

By building a nice and comfortable litter box near some of the cats’ favorite plants can make them happy and content in their own space whilst keeping the rest of your garden safe.

Similarly, a small outdoor enclosed cat house built near your garden will make the cats happy and would keep them away from the other plants.

#7- Get yourself a guard dog

Last but not least! Like Spike protects the house from Tom, this simple step can change the game for you! Of course, this works best if you are a dog lover too and have enough space for all 3 of your babies. (Cat, dog and of course your plants!).

Having a dog around will ensure that the cats do not come anywhere near your garden because the dog will invariably chase the cat away and this is the most natural way to keep cats away from plants! It’s the way God intended it, isn’t it?

Well, having discovered different ways to deter your cats from entering your garden and destroying your painstakingly nurtured plants, you need to make a note of some ingredients and materials that even though are useful in keeping cats away, they can prove to be toxic and cause harm to these furry four-legged wonders.

Topping the list of toxic or harmful materials to steer clear off is mothballs and coffee grounds followed by plastic mats that have spikes or the use of plastic forks. Whenever tempted to use these remember the downside of these ingredients.

After all, your intention is not to harm the cats but rather to find a way to co-exist in harmony! Moreover, keeping cats away from your plants, whether indoors or outdoors becomes important as not only do they destroy your valuable plants but also for the safety and health of the cats.

For that matter, keeping cats out of your vegetable garden is imperative because their feces contain certain parasites and pathogens that could infect the vegetables that you later plan to consume. Cats are also known to attack birds and insects, some of which are very useful to your garden and the pollination of the plants.

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To sum it up, it is much nicer to have your feline pet trained to respect your space and make use of the space you have provided to it for its playfulness. Cats are always jumping around, whether it is your domesticated cat or a stray feline that has wandered into your yard out of curiosity or to establish territory.

Cats are known to have excellent climbing abilities and keeping them out of your plants can be a challenging process and hence the above list of dos and don’ts might help you to stop these furry intruders from behaving impishly and creating problems for you in your garden. After all, it’s not only the plants that need protection from the cats.

Sometimes, it’s the cats that need protection from the plants as well! In any case what so ever, if you notice any concerning symptoms in the cat-like vomiting or diarrhea due to plant ingestion, you must immediately consult your veterinarian.