Cats are great, but they can also be destructive. If you're wondering how to keep cats away from houseplants, you're not alone. As cat owners, we love our pets' mischievous mistakes, as long as their curiosity doesn't result in broken glass, messy spills, or raining down entire shelves.
Since houseplants can be toxic to cats, many pet owners find it easier to sacrifice their vibrant green decor. But if you've just given up, here's what you need to knowcats and plants can coexist.
While your cat may fight your plant, eat it, dig up the soil, or even use it as a litter box, there are ways to stop them.
We'll teach you how to protect plants from cats, but first of all, it's useful to know why your cat wants to destroy your plants in the first place.
Why does your cat keep getting into your plants?
There are several reasons why cats enter plants, from taste to boredom relief. But if you can pinpoint what motivates your cat, it will be easier to keep her from smashing up your next plant.
Your first clue is whether your cat is fighting, eating, digging, or going to the bathroom in your plants.
Your cat may like the taste or digestive aid
If you're wondering why cats eat plants because your cat craves yours, there are instinctive reasons for their behavior.
For starters, cats tend to explore objects by putting them in their mouths, as this provides a sensory input. But if that item is good, nothing will stop them from coming back for more.
Another possibility is that your cat's instinct is telling her to eat your plants to aid digestion. Feral cats often eat grass for the extra fiber, so your cat may be trying to soothe an upset stomach if food or hairballs aren't doing her any good.
Important:Even if your cat doesn't eat plants, just decorate themneotrovne blacks. Some plants are poisonous to cats and it's not worth the risk.
If you buy plants that are safe for your cat, make sure she doesn't eat too many of them, and use the tips below to keep cats away from plants in the first place. Any plant can upset your cat's tummy if eaten in excess. Contact your vet immediately if your cat shows any of the following symptoms:
- to sneeze
- Decreased appetite
- A paw on the nose or mouth
Plants bring out your cat's inner hunter (or huntress).
Cats come from a long line of vicious hunters who fought and killed to survive, and some cats still see themselves as such. That's why they like to attack toys - and sometimes your toes too.
To some cats, your plants look like great sacrifices. Even the slightest movement can be enough to trigger an attack.
Your cat may be bored
It could also be that your cat is the first to get the urge to hunt or play, and your plant is the best opponent there is.
Cats are considered low maintenance compared to dogs, but they need just as much entertainment to stimulate their brains and encourage healthy behaviors. When a cat is bored, it can experience pent-up energy and frustration. Sometimes this results in an effect or manifestation on your plants or other things.
Why do cats dig in plants?
Perhaps your cat is more of a digger than a fighter and you often come home with uprooted plants and soil scattered around the room. This behavior stems from the fact that digging is an instinct for cats, as it is for many animals.
If your cat also uses your plants as a bathroom, it's instinct to dig to mask their scent. In this case, the problem stems from the fact that they want to use your plants as a bathroom.
Your cat loves your plants more than their sand
Litter boxes are designed to meet the cat's needs in the bathroom. Their instinct for privacy -- and for digging and hiding their jobs -- is why litter boxes look and function the way they do. However, if your cat is not happy with his litter box, he will choose to relieve himself elsewhere.
If your cat uses your plants as a personal bathroom, consult your vet first. If there is no medical cause, the problem is probably due to an unsatisfactory litter box situation and you can refer to the "Litter Box Properly" section below.
How to keep cats away from plants
Now that you know why your cat made enemies with your plants, you know it's not out of sheer malicious intent. You may be wondering how to combat cat nature.
Here's what you can do to enjoy the tranquility of indoor plants and the adventure of owning a pet at the same time.
Make your plants unattractive to your cat
One of the best ways to keep cats away from plants, regardless of their motivation, is to make the plants unappealing to them. If your cat dislikes the taste or smell of your houseplants, he'll prefer to stay away.
Smells and flavors that cats find repulsive include citrus fruits, certain spices, and coffee grounds.
To make your plants less palatable, try mixing your water with lime, lemon, or orange juice and sprinkling it on your plants. You can also sprinkle your plants with chili powder, cayenne or black pepper. If you're wondering how to keep cats from digging up plants, cover the soil, too.
You can also buy a spray to prevent cats from eating plants; these sprays are made with indigestible ingredients for furry friends.
With this method, reapply repellents after watering the plants.
Cats also naturally dislike certain herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, but you should check with the ASPCA before purchasing herbs. Some articles on how to prevent cats from eating plants recommend the scarecrow plant - aptly named because it repels cats - but research shows that this plant is sometimes referred to as dog's eye, meaningis poisonouscats.
Important:Never use citrus essential oils to protect plants from cats. Although they give off a strong smell, essential oilscan be toxiccats. We also recommend consulting your veterinarian before using homemade or store-bought cat spray.
Put your plants out of reach
If your cat can't get to your plants, they're going to be in trouble.
One way to keep plants away from cats is to place them high on a shelf or hang them out of reach. When using this method, keep in mind what your cat can do. Most cats are excellent jumpers and can bounce off nearby objects when determined. Make sure your cat doesn't have access to every plant.
Another option is to use a cat blanket. You can enclose your plants in a cage, aquarium or terrarium, but you must make sure that your cat cannot knock them over or remove the cover with its paw.
★ Important:Never buy poisonous plants, even if none are available. It is better not to take any chances if one day your cat feels particularly fit, forgets to put the lid on the box or something else happens.
Cover the soil in front of the plants to protect them from burrowing cats
If you have a backhoe handy, you can keep cats away from your plants by mulching the soil around your plants. There are several creative ways to do this.
Covering the soil around the base of your plants with aluminum foil is a popular recommendation because cats don't like the feel of foil. Networking is another option.
If the foil or mesh aesthetic isn't for you, consider more decorative options like rocks, stones, or shells. Just be sure to use heavier rocks or a thicker layer so your cat doesn't knock them out of the pot.
Train your cat
It is possible to train house cats as you would train a dog, but it takes time and patience. For this option to work, you need to be consistent and fast. Speed is essential for your cat to associate its actions with a reward or punishment.
If you are home a lot and are willing to devote yourself to their training, you can teach your pet to leave the plants alone or engage in another activity if he wants to play with them.
Bonus:It helps to know what motivates your cat. For example, treats or pets are better rewards depending on whether your fur baby is motivated by food or love. The same goes for punishment; some cats are more disgusted by the spray bottle, while others have a greater aversion to loud noises.
Give your pet its own plant
It's all about protecting houseplants from cats, so why volunteer to give them a plant to play with? Giving your cat her own plant will help her satisfy her plant instinct, so she won't be so desperate to mess with yours.
To use this strategy effectively, you need to teach them to play with their plant when they try to get into yours.
Catnip is a popular choice for this strategy because it is non-toxic, has all the plant properties that appeal to cat instincts, and evenhelp your cat's digestionwhile providing additional niacin and B group vitamins.
Although weed is not toxic to cats, it is still important to monitor your cat's intake of herbs and talk to your vet first.
Catnip also comes from a plant, but your cat may be too fond of catnip to make a good choice out of it.
Bonus:If your vet approves of this method, plant your pet's new friend in an unbreakable plastic container. You don't want to clean up broken pieces or get hurt if your cat gets too excited.
Cat litter box the right way
There are three factors to consider when you want to give your cats the right litter box:
In terms of cleanliness, cats should clean their litter box once a day. If it happens to you occasionally, you can set a reminder on your phone.
Accessibility refers to how easy it is for your cat to access the litter box at any time, and it's important to note that cats don't like to share. TheAnimal Health Networkrecommends always having one litter box more than cats (number of cats + 1). Therefore, if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes; if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.
If you have a multi-story home, placing a litter box on each floor can also help, especially if there are plants nearby.
Finally, your litter boxes should be large enough for your largest cat to comfortably use the bathroom. Get a box that is as long as your cat, measured from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail when fully extended.
If any of these three factors are off, your cat may find a houseplant in a pot her favorite spot.
Protect your cat from boredom
If your cat is attacking your plants out of boredom, the best way to stop it is to tackle the problem at its source.
Start by creating a playful environment that stimulates your cat so it has something to do even when you're not home. Interactive toys and cat trees are a great place to start.
As a bonus, giving your cat mental and physical activity is also good for her health.
Your Replacement: Keep a cat-free plant sanctuary
Have you tried all the above methods and nothing is enough to stop your little troublemaker? If plants make you happy, you have the option to rely on: a room with plants without cats.
Creating this room is as easy as putting all your plants in one room and keeping the door closed to keep the cats out. Consider choosing a room with a decent amount of natural light. You may even have other things that could use a cat-free zone.
Talk to your vet before making any changes to your cat's lifestyle
Before trying the tipsThis article, we recommend that you discuss any changes you are considering with your veterinarian. If your cat is showing or starting to have behavioral problems, there's a possibility he has a stomach flu or some other medical issue that needs to be prioritized.
Once your methods have been approved by vets, bring only cat-friendly plants into your home. Even if you keep plants away from cats, it's best to play it safe when it comes to the smaller members of your family.
Mulching properly is one of the best things you can do for your plants - garden and greenhouse? ›
The mulch creates a more natural growing environment with its organic material breaking down and supporting vital soil microbes. Other benefits include increased moisture retention and cooler soil temperatures, both of which favor optimal root growth.Is mulching good or bad for plants? ›
Good gardeners know that a generous layer of mulch will help garden plants in many ways. Some of the benefits include reduced weeding, cooler soil in the summer, water conservation (need less frequent irrigation), and the slow addition of organic matter as organic mulches break down.Should I mulch in a greenhouse? ›
Mulch can provide a protective barrier around your plants and reduce water loss. A layer of mulch can act as an insulation barrier keeping soil warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A 1-2 inch layer of mulch around established plants discourages weed growth. Organic mulch can add nutrients to the soil.What is proper mulching? ›
Keep mulch away from the base: Your mulch layer should start a few inches away from the root crown of the tree. Avoid piling mulch right up against the trunk. Mulch depth: You typically want to keep mulch 2-4 inches deep. Any more than that and you risk creating additional problems.Is mulching really necessary? ›
Why use mulch? Mulch reduces soil water losses, suppresses weeds, and protects against temperature extremes, especially in places where it snows. Mulch also feeds soil biology as it decomposes, helping to create healthy, living soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants!What plants should not be mulched? ›
It's especially important to avoid using rocks as mulch around common foundation plants like azalea, hydrangea, and yews; these plants thrive in acidic soil (soil with a pH level below seven).Should you mulch in hot weather? ›
Apply mulch any time of year. If applying in summer and the ground is dry, irrigate before applying. The mulch will conserve moisture in the soil and guard against evaporation. In early spring, hold off applying mulch until the soil warms and starters are established.Is mulching environmentally friendly? ›
Organic mulches help the environment in many ways. For example, they can help regulate soil temperature, prevent erosion, and conserve water. Organic mulches also improve soil fertility and provide a habitat for beneficial insects.Is mulch or compost better for garden? ›
Compost is best at adding nutrients to the soil and improving soil structure. Mulch is best at limiting weed growth, preventing erosion and retaining soil moisture. Compost is made up of decomposed, organic materials; whereas, mulch can be inorganic or organic materials that, in most cases, have not yet decomposed.What are 5 disadvantages of mulching? ›
- Because mulch blocks sunlight, it prevents some seeds from germinating. This is good for keeping weeds away from the beds, but not for your good seeds. ...
- Slugs, earwigs, cutworms, and other pests love cool, dark, moist places. ...
- Heavy rains can make the ground soggy for several days.
What are 3 benefits of mulch? ›
A few advantages of mulch are that it usually helps to retain moisture in the soil, slows or prevents the growth of weeds, helps regulate soil temperature, reduces watering, and helps repel some pests.What are 3 effects of mulching? ›
This process has many advantages: mulches are known to buffer soil temperature , prevent soil water loss by evaporation , inhibit weed germination, and suppress weed growth .How deep should garden mulch be? ›
How deep should your mulch be? You should spread your mulch to be two to four inches thick. If your mulch is too thin, then weeds can push through. If your mulch is too thick, it prevents water from reaching the soil.Does mulch attract bugs? ›
While organic mulches naturally decompose and are beneficial, they also attract insects looking for warmth, shelter, and food. Insects eat the pine bark mulch along with the bacteria and fungi harbored within its moist, dark confines. Pests that aren't true insects but are linked with infestations include spiders.Why not to mulch? ›
Heavy mulch could deform and even smother the new plants and new growth. Also, the compacted mulch may insulate the still-cold earth, keeping the warm, spring sunlight from penetrating to the dormant roots below.Does mulch attract termites? ›
Mulch doesn't necessarily attract termites, but can serve as an invite for them to feast on your house.Why is mulch killing my plants? ›
In reality, thicker layers of mulch harm plants. When mulch builds up over four inches it often becomes hydrophobic, or water repellent. When this happens water simply sheds off the top of the mulch rather than soaking in to the soil below, leaving plants thirsty. Thick layers of mulch can also suffocate plant roots.What perennials do not like mulch? ›
I avoid organic mulches on perennials that need free drainage and good air circulation, such as bearded irises, lavenders, rosemary and sages.What should I put down before mulching? ›
Spray all weeds with weed killer 1 to 2 weeks prior to mulching. This allows weeds to completely die, making them much easier to pull.Should you mulch in the fall or winter? ›
Many landscaping professionals actually practice — and prefer — fall mulching. Fall mulch works like spring mulch to retain soil moisture, suppress weed growth and protect bare soil from erosion.
Should I leave mulch in the winter? ›
The mulch protects our plants from the harsh conditions of winter freezes, thaws, and winds. But the snow itself is great at this. The secret benefit to winter mulching is not to keep the ground from freezing but to keep it from alternately freezing and thawing.When should you not spread mulch? ›
While mulching in early fall is safe, you should never mulch during late fall. "This can insulate the ground and prevent plant dormancy," says Morrell. The much-needed hibernation helps plants survive the cold winter months.What is the safest mulch to use? ›
The types of organic mulches that are the least likely to contain any pesticides or herbicides are going to be tree-based: shredded or chipped wood, shredded bark, and pine needles.What is the best mulch non toxic? ›
- Tree bark.
- Wood chips.
- Grass clippings.
- Pine needles.
- Aged sawdust.
Bad leaves for compost: Bad leaves are those higher in lignin and lower in nitrogen and calcium. These include beech, oak leaves, holly, and sweet chestnut. Also, make sure to avoid using leaves of black walnut and eucalyptus as these plants contain natural herbicides that will prevent seeds from germinating.Is mulch or wood chips better for garden? ›
Truth: Bark can cause a problem because it contains natural waxes that prevent absorption and release of water in landscapes since that is the purpose on a tree. Wood chips are better because they consist primarily of the inner wood which is designed to absorb and retain moisture.Is mulch better than fertilizer? ›
When done correctly, mulching returns about 4% nitrogen, 2% potassium, and 1% phosphorus. Those are the same three nutrients contained in virtually every fertilizer. In essence, mulching can feed your lawn 25% of its total nutritional needs for the year, which is enough to cut out one entire fertilizer treatment.How many years does mulch last? ›
A typical mulch may last about five years, but this timeframe can decrease depending on the type of mulch, weather conditions, rainfall, sun exposure etc. For most landscaping and planting applications you'll have 2-3 inches of mulch in place.Is there such a thing as too much mulch? ›
Excessive mulch reduces soil oxygen for roots, suffocating them and causing them to die. Roots in search of oxygen and water sometimes grow into excess mulch. During dry periods the mulch dries out and the roots in the mulch die.What color mulch fades the least? ›
Over time, mulch colors fade due to frequent exposure to sunlight. Regular non-dyed mulch may become a grayish color in one to two months, while dyed brown or black mulches may keep their color for a year or longer.
What do coffee grounds do for plants? ›
Spread on planting beds like mulch, grounds are said to repel cats, fertilize soil, kill slugs and keep weeds at bay. A coffee mulch is also rumored to beckon earthworms and acidify soil. Other gardeners work coffee grounds into beds, swearing it aerates and acidifies soil.How often should you mulch? ›
When and How Often Should You Mulch? We recommend that you have your yard mulched at least once a year. To take full advantage of the many benefits it can offer to the soil, some people like to mulch twice a year. While there is nothing wrong with this, it does require more effort and expense.Is mulch better than grass? ›
If you decide that grass may be too much trouble in certain areas of your yard. Consider mulch. With mulch, you don't have to worry so much about infestation and disease. Mulch also conserves soil moisture, reducing the need for irrigation.What are the 3 things that mulch help maintain and reduce? ›
- improve soil moisture and prevents plants from drying out too quickly.
- reduce soil erosion and soil compaction.
- maintain optimal soil temperatures by creating a barrier from the heat and cold.
PROS: Dark color sets plants off beautifully; enriches soil quickly; inexpensive, especially if you make your own. CONS: Breaks down quickly; very short-term weed suppressant.When should I mulch my garden? ›
Normally, mid- to late spring is the best time to put down mulch. Seedlings can work their way through a thin layer of mulch, but too deep a layer could be impenetrable. Let your plants get off to a good start first. You can always add more mulch after the plants are established.What mulch lasts the longest? ›
Stone is the longest-lasting mulch, followed by landscape fabric. Black plastic and rubber mulch last a long time, and help with both heat and water retention in the soil, though they're also more expensive than stone or landscape fabric.What is better for plants mulch or rocks? ›
Some areas and plants take better to mulch, but others can be improved with stones. Here are a few things to consider before buying. Definitely the standard for most landscapers, mulch is the preferred choice for gardeners who wish to add nutrients to the soil.Is rubber mulch better than wood? ›
Rubber mulch provides excellent drainage for the soil and supplies great insulation against harsh weather. It also allows a higher degree of heat to be maintained in the soil as well as maintaining its moisture levels. Wood mulch, however, can starve plants.Should mulch be put on wet or dry soil? ›
The best time to lay mulch is when the soil is nice and moist, because mulch helps seal in the moisture and it's hard for rain to penetrate if the soil under the mulch is dry.
Do I need to remove old mulch before applying new mulch? ›
If that amount already exists in your yard, it is not necessary to add new mulch. However, if you're down to an inch, top off the old layer with an additional inch of new mulch to keep it at its optimum level. Sometimes, mulch can knit together and start to mat–shredded hardwood in particular.How many inches of mulch is too much? ›
Mulch may be one of the best, or one of the worst things you can do for your plants, depending on how you use it. In general, mulch depth should not exceed a total of 3 inches, including the mulch remaining from previous years and the current season's application.Should I water garden before mulching? ›
Water your flowerbed prior to applying mulch to lock in moisture.Should mulch be lower than grass? ›
Once the mulch is applied, it too needs to be lower than the surrounding grass or walk to stay in place. Digging a V-shaped trench around your garden beds and filling it with mulch provides some additional benefits. The trench helps slow the infiltration of weeds and grass into the garden bed.What is the most effective way to spread mulch? ›
Either pile mulch within the flower bed or veggie garden, and then spread it around by hand, or use a rake to spread it between plants. Ensure you don't lay mulch directly onto plant stems, as this can prevent irrigation from getting to the roots. Instead, leave an inch or so between mulch and each plant.What is a major downside to mulching? ›
Disadvantages of Mulching
Although using mulch has many benefits, in some cases, its use can be detrimental to the garden: TOO much mulch (a layer more than 3 inches deep) can bury and suffocate plants; water and oxygen can't reach the roots.
PROS: Inexpensive; widely available; breaks down relatively slowly; stays put on slopes; sometimes a sustainable use of wood industry byproducts. CONS: Can deplete nitrogen content from soil as it decomposes.How often should you mulch your plants? ›
About 3 inches of mulch is recommended for beds, and Becker recommends mulching twice a year. Mulching with the right amount each time will help fend off weeds and conserve moisture, which will reduce your need to irrigate. One exception is if you use pea gravel mulch or inorganic mulch.Is too much mulch a problem? ›
Excessive mulch reduces soil oxygen for roots, suffocating them and causing them to die. Roots in search of oxygen and water sometimes grow into excess mulch. During dry periods the mulch dries out and the roots in the mulch die.What pests like mulch? ›
Mulch can attract millipedes, centipedes, spiders, sowbugs, earwigs, ants, and even cockroaches crawling around in mulch beds. Many insects seek out the conditions that mulch naturally provides. These pests can be beneficial for breaking down organic mulch and can even feed on garden pests.
Should I water mulch after putting it down? ›
You should spread your mulch to be two to four inches thick. If your mulch is too thin, then weeds can push through. If your mulch is too thick, it prevents water from reaching the soil. Water after mulching — This is an optional step, but a final watering can help settle the mulch into place.Does mulch bring bugs? ›
But can mulch attract bugs? Yes, it can. The mulch itself isn't what attracts the insects and other pests to your garden. However, it provides insects already in the vicinity with a hospitable environment.