As someone who also has a pet kitty, you may find your cat also loves your houseplants. Despite the horror of finding your favorite plant in pieces, know that your cat isn’t being spiteful. Read on to learn what’s really going on in your kitty’s mind when they attack your plants.
If you're like me, you love keeping plants in your home. As someone who also has a pet kitty, you may find your cat also loves your houseplants. Cats are well known for their curious nature. Some indoor cats make keeping plants within your home stressful. Despite the horror of finding your favorite plant in pieces, know that your cat isn’t being spiteful. Read on to learn what’s really going on in your kitty’s mind when they attack your plants.
Cats Vs. Houseplants
We’ve all been there. Walking into a room, only to find your sweet little cat has caused damage to your beloved potted plants. Some cats may unintentionally knock over a potted plant, while others may swat at or shred up the leaves like the plant is their own living cat toy. Other frisky felines might enjoy digging up the soil in your pots, uprooting plants, and making a mess, or worse, they may even defecate in your houseplant's pots.
As frustrating as these behaviors can be, there is a reason cats do these things. They are attempting to meet a need. This is why it is important to first understand why your pet cat is going after your houseplants.
Here we will troubleshoot why your cat won’t stop destroying your potted plants and how you can redirect their attention to something else.
Why Cats Eat Houseplants
When a cat is exploring, it often uses its mouth. This may not sound very appealing, but the truth is even we do this when we are babies. Everything goes in our mouth; well, cats do the same thing. So, if it tastes good, you can bet your kitty will try going back for seconds.
Some cats like to eat your houseplants because they enjoy the texture of the plants. While others may just be looking for some extra fiber in their diet. When your feline is feeling sick on their stomach they may turn to plants to help move things along through their digestive system.
Attack of the Cat
Maybe your cat isn’t simply just snacking on your potted plants. Some cats target your houseplants for behavioral reasons. Here we will discuss these three reasons why your pet cat could be eyeing your plants.
Another reason some cats attack your plants is simply due to the fact that you have a natural-born predator in your home. Cats like to hunt. So even if it's just a leaf moving, some cats, especially bored cats, may pounce on your plants.
Speaking of bored cats. When a cat is bored, if they’re not practicing their prey lunge on your philodendron, you may find evidence that your bored feline is chewing on your plants. If you have a cat, it's important to keep them not just physically active but mentally active as well. Not doing this will lead to destructive behaviors, which could affect your potted plants or other household items. As cat owners, it is our responsibility to provide stimulation for your pet. If you don’t, they will find a way to entertain themselves.
Anxiety and Stress
The fact is many cats are susceptible to stress or anxiety. For some, it manifests through fur chewing, consuming non-food items, blanket suckling, or even chewing on things you wish they wouldn’t, like your plants.
Watch your cat’s body language, particularly when they are chewing. If they appear to be on high alert or unsettled, your cat may be exhibiting stress behaviors.
Why is My Cat Digging Up My Potted Plants?
If your cat has been caught digging in the dirt of your pots, you are not alone. But remember, for cats, digging is completely normal and natural. Most cats are known for hiding their scent after using the toilet, and while they may not be using your pots as a cat box, the instinct to dig is just too strong for some.
If they are digging to potty, this usually means your digger does not approve of the chosen litter in their cat box or they disapprove of how it is maintained. Cats like their litter boxes to be clean and spacious, and they need plenty of space to do their business. More importantly, when it comes to using the toilet, cats don’t like to share space. So if you have multiple cats and don’t want to invite problems, be sure to have one cat box for each feline family member.
To keep your digging kitty out of your potted plants, you need to make the soil unappealing. You can use large pebbles or stones or even aluminum foil to cover the soil if you don’t mind how it looks. Though personally, I use glass pebbles, they are an effective deterrent and are pretty to look at.
Top Five Tips for Keeping Your Cat Away From Your Houseplants
1. Make Your Plants Taste Bad
Cats hate the taste of citrus. You can take the juice of either a lemon, lime or even an orange and dilute it with water in a small spray bottle. Use this mixture to spray directly on the leaves of your plants to keep your cat away. The bitter flavor of the citrus can deter cats from returning to munch on your plants leaves. This method is not foolproof; it must be reapplied often and is not guaranteed to work. Be mindful that the smell of the citrus can not be confined to the immediate area surrounding the plant, and if the room often smells like something they don’t like, it may cause your cat to be unsettled or stressed.
2. Put Your Plants Out of Reach
If your cat doesn’t know how to leave your plants alone, you need to go above their heads. Literally. Placing your houseplants up out of their reach by hanging them from the ceiling with wall hangers or simply putting them high up on a shelf that even the most skilled jumpers can’t reach.
If there isn’t a shelf high enough in your home to keep your plants safe from being knocked down, use sticky putty on the bottom of your plant pots to adhere them to the counter’s surface, giving them a better chance of staying upright if your cat comes through.
3. Cover The Soil
For the kitty’s that like to dig around in the soil of your potted plants, the best way to deter this behavior is to cover the soil. Some people use aluminum foil crumbled up around the base of the plant, covering the soil, but I prefer a more natural look and opt for pebbles, river rocks, or glass pebbles.
4. Give Your Feline Their Own Plant
If your cat is a chewer, providing them their own plant can be a great way to provide enrichment and ease boredom. Cat-safe plants such as catnip, cat thyme, parsley, valerian, rosemary, and wheat grass are all great options. If you choose to grow grass for your feline, make sure it is safe for them to consume by always keeping it cut short. The seeds of the grass that grow over time are toxic. Make sure to use small plant pots, so your cat won’t feel inclined to dig or defecate in the pot.
5. Train Your Kitty to Ignore Your Plants
Just like dogs, cats can be trained. It takes patience, consistency, and time, but you can in fact, train your cats to do lots of different things. Teaching your kitty to ignore your potted plants and redirecting their attention is possible if you have the right incentive.
The most effective method of training is distracting and redirecting. If you catch them checking out a plant, call them to come to you or pick them up and move them gently away from the plant. When doing this, keep it short and sweet. Otherwise, your cat may think this behavior is a good way to get your attention.
When removing them from where your plant is positioned, be sure not to speak or use any unnecessary movements. Take your time, and move slowly. After moving them away from your plant, wait a minute or two before redirecting their attention to an appropriate outlet for their pent-up energy. Spend a few minutes playing, give them an enriching food puzzle, offer them a favorite treat, or give them one of their favorite toys they can play with by themselves.
Doing this will hold their attention, making them less likely to go right back to your plants. If your kitty is eating plants out of boredom, you are meeting that need through redirection. If they’re munching on your plants due to anxiety or stress, you’re showing them a better, more effective way to deal with all that nervous energy.
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