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Ways to Keep Cats Out of Your Indoor Plants

Gardeners can be a wee bit obsessive when it comes to our plants and gardens — the more, the merrier, and if we can find ways to bring plants inside to green up our interiors, all the better, right? And for those of us who have pets, that’s an additional obsession that may well rival the first one. So what happens when your love of gardening and plants threatens the health and well being of your beloved Daisy? That’s what can happen when you mix pets and indoor plants because some of our best houseplants are highly toxic.

orange cat eating green houseplant

Safe House Plants for Pets

Here’s what you need to know to keep Buddy and Bella safe…and enjoy your indoor plants!  Know the culprits. Not all houseplants are toxic, and some are more toxic to dogs rather than cats, and vice versa. And while some can merely upset your furry companion’s stomach, others can cause liver failure, which can lead to death. The top offenders are asparagus fern, dracaena, dieffenbachia, Easter lily, jade plant, aloe vera, philodendron, sago palm, ZZ plant, and ivy. For a complete list of plants that are toxic to pets, refer to this article: http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/poisonous_plants.pdf

repotting indoor plant

Keeping Pets Out of Your Indoor Plants

Hang plants high. Hanging planters or planters on tall stands keep your plants away from curious felines and canines. Most pets stay at ground level or venture onto furniture, so a hanging fern in the corner of the living room won’t be accessible to them.

Use houseplants in forbidden rooms. For more stubborn pets, it may be best to limit your use of houseplants to those rooms of the house where your animals are either not allowed or have limited access to. Your bathroom, guest room, or home office is a perfect choice.

hanging red plant

Plant a mini indoor lawn. We all know that if we give our pets acceptable and safe things to chew on, it minimizes the risk of them going after something that could harm them. Consider planting grass seed in an indoor planter so that when it sprouts, it’s perfectly safe for your kitty or puppy to enjoy in small quantities. But remember to avoid chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers on this planting to be on the safe side.

Train your pets. If you’ve already trained them to go to the bathroom outside or in a litterbox then chances are you can train them to stay out of your house plants. Anytime you see your pet messing with or digging up your plants show them that you disapprove of their behavior by spraying them with water. A great trick is to keep a spray bottle handy. This won’t hurt your pets and eventually, they won’t want to go near the plants. Remember to reinforce good behavior as well! If they walk away from the plant give them a treat and lots of love.

Cover the soil. If your pets are constantly digging up your plants soil, try covering the soil with a layer of river rocks. You can also use this trick with pine cones. Covering the soil will deter them from digging and allow water to drain into the soil.


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  1. ‘Got any tips for keeping cats out of my back yard garden? I don’t know where these cats come from, but apparently word has gotten out that my lush back yard is the best cat toilet for miles! (‘caught them on my game camera) I’ve had to throw out plants because they get peed/pooped on so much. Rocks / bark / succulent ground cover doesn’t matter. Shall I spray the entire yard down with garlic spray? Cayenne spray? Coyote urine? Shall I pee in my own yard??? Any tips and tricks welcome. 🙂 I live in the desert southwest. Thanks, –Paul K

    • Hi Paul, cats dislike strong citrus scents as well as the smell of rue, lavender, and pennyroyal, Coleus Canina, and lemon thyme. You can try planting a few of these herbs or spread essential oils in these scents around the garden, add some orange peels, coffee grounds, or spiky material such as pine cones on top of your soil, or as you suggested spray a mixture of cayenne pepper. You could also install a 6 foot fence with spiky strips along the top around the perimeter of your garden. Finally, a moving object such as a scarecrow may help scare the cats away. We hope this helps!

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