How to Keep Your Cat from Eating Houseplants

cat eating houseplants?

One of the most common complaints that people have about their cats is that they tend to go after houseplants a lot. For some owners, the damage will range from nibbled leaves here and there to entire plants being torn up from the roots and left strewn on the floor along with dirt from the pot it was in.

Nobody enjoys putting in the effort of caring for a houseplant only to have it killed by a cat who had no clue the kind of damage it was causing. If you find that your cat has a penchant for destroying houseplants, you may feel at a loss as to what you should do. 

You probably won’t want to remove the houseplants in entirety but at the same time, cleaning up after your cat’s mess with no signs of it stopping can be tough.

There are actually quite a few different ways that you can discourage your cats from chewing and eating your precious houseplants but the method that you will want to use will depend on why your cat is chewing on the plants.

Some cats may choose to eat the plants because they recognize that they need a particular nutrient in their systems and they know that the plant will provide it for them. 

Meanwhile, other cats are just eating the plants because they are curious creatures and, much the same as toddlers, will explore by putting things in their mouths. 

In order to find the right method to keep your cat from eating houseplants, you will want to first determine the cause of it.

Why Do Cats Eat Houseplants?

brown tabby cat on white textile
Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

There are a few reasons why cats eat plants. Some cats, as mentioned above, are simply eating the plants out of sheer curiosity, especially if they are indoor cats and are not used to seeing plants. 

Other cats might see the plants as a strange toy for them to investigate, particularly if it feels like it is playing a game of “catch the plant” when you try to move the plant away from the cat.

There are a very few cats who eat houseplants for nutritional value or because they have developed pica (a disorder where a person or animal eats things that are not considered food). Chances are that if your cats are eating houseplants for the last reason, they will also be eating other things that they are not supposed to eat either.

A good way to determine why your cat is eating houseplants is to see which plants your cat is interested in. 

If your cat is only interested in one type of plant, such as the long and springy stems of the common spider plant, then it could be that your cat sees the plant as a fun toy to play with. 

If your cat is chewing and eating houseplants with seemingly no discretion, then there’s a good chance your cat is curious about and might even enjoy the taste of the plants.

Keeping Your Cats Away From Your Plants

keep house plant out of reach
Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

There are three main ways that you can dissuade your cats from eating your houseplants.

  1. Move the Plant Out of Reach

You can make sure to place the plants in areas of the house that are out of your cat’s reach, although this may be tough if the plants need a specific environment or are too tall to be hanging plants. 

  1. Spray the Plant to Make it Taste Bad

You can also spray citrus or vinegar on the plants to make them unappetizing and unappealing. 

  1. Buy Your Cat a Plant

And finally, if your cat sees the plant as a toy, consider getting your cat its own plant to play with so that it will not mess with the ones that you care about.

With the first method, you will want to place your plants completely out of your cat’s reach, as if the plant was poisonous and you couldn’t risk your cat eating it. 

Often, the best placement for these will be high up in hanging baskets without any feasible way that your cat could jump to the basket, although this isn’t always possible for cats who are agile or plants that simply cannot be hoisted up, such as tiny trees.

This is why the second method exists. Cats will interact with plants out of desire or curiosity and you can make a plant completely unappealing in both aspects with a citrus spray. 

You can either make your own version of the citrus or you can purchase one from most commercial pet stores. Here is one to try out.

The smell is often enough to keep a cat’s sensitive nose away and if that isn’t enough, the taste of it will also teach your cat not to eat the plants. 

If that isn’t enough to dissuade the cat, you can upgrade to vinegar. If vinegar would harm the plant leaves, consider diluting the vinegar with water and then soaking cotton balls in the mixture, lining the soil with those cotton balls.

And finally, if your cat simply wants to play with her newly discovered “toy”, consider getting her one of her own and reward her for playing with her new toy but do not reward her for playing with your plants. With enough time and dedication, your cat will learn which plant is “hers” and which one is yours, eventually leaving your “toy” to you. 

Also consider a cat tree like one of these to keep your kitty entertained and off your houseplants.

Editorial Team

When we aren't scooping up droppings to ensure a luxurious litter box experience for our fur babies, we are writing all sorts of stuff about cats for your enjoyment and knowledge.

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