9 Techniques to Keep Cats Away From Plants

Updated April 18, 2022
cat trying to get into potted plant on window sill

No solution is foolproof, but there are ways to make it much harder for your cat to ruin your house plants. If you're tired of seeing your greenery shredded and soiled, no pun intended, give some of these tips a try.

Turn a Plastic Carpet Runner Upside Down

A plastic carpet runner can be a deterrent to cats with sensitive feet. Turn the runner upside down, so the little cleats that help it grab the carpet now point up and place your plant on top. Most cats won't like feeling their paws pricked as they approach the planter, even though the cleats are harmless. You can try this with floor planters or use heavy shears to cut the plastic into smaller pieces to use on shelves and bookcases.

Put Plants in Decorative Bird Cages

If you have smaller plants that your cat loves to knock off window sills and shelves, try putting them in decorative bird cages. All you have to do is remove the top of the cage from its base, arrange one or more plants inside, and latch the top back on. For extra protection, hang the cage from a hook or curtain rod.

Cover Soil With Pebbles

Rocks can keep your cat from digging the soil out of your pots and make the pots a less-desirable place to relieve themselves. The trick is to cover the top of the soil with smooth pebbles that are at least 1-inch or preferably larger. Don't use smaller gravel because your pet may mistake it for litter and look at it as an invitation to use the planter as their new litter box.

Spray Plants With Bitter Spray

spray house plants

If your cat likes to chew your houseplants, making them taste bad could solve the problem. Spray the leaves (top and underside) and stems lightly with bitter spray and let them dry. Put each plant back in its usual spot and keep an eye on how your cat reacts when they attempt to bite a leaf. It might take a few tries, but they will probably decide they no longer wants to make a salad out of your prized ficus.

Try Using Foil

Cats typically don't like the feel, taste, or smell of aluminum foil, so it can be another good deterrent to your cat's obsession. Try wrapping the pot in foil or placing crumpled foil on top of the soil. This can be especially helpful to keep your cat from climbing tall plants like the Christmas tree.

Put Plants in a Screened Aquarium

If you have a collection of small to medium-size plants, putting them in an aquarium with a screen top might be all you need to keep your cat in look-but-don't-touch mode. The screen top allows some air circulation, but your cat will be forced to keep their claws to themselves. You can even replace the screen with a lid and create a closed terrarium, which are still very attractive. Just be sure to pick the correct plants for this type of environment.

Cover Soil With Citrus-Scented Landscape Fabric

Most cats dislike the smell of anything citrus. Try covering the soil around your plants with a layer of landscape fabric that has been cut to fit the top of the planter and sprayed with diluted orange essential oil. Add about 20 drops of the oil to about 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle, mist the cloth well on both sides, and then place it on the soil around the plant. Refresh the citrus spray weekly to help keep kitty away.

Sprinkle Lemon Peels Around Plant Base

Most cats aren't fond of lemon scent, so don't throw away the peels after you juice your lemons. Instead, slice them into strips and arrange them on top of the soil around the plant. This solution is more effective if you renew the peels on a weekly basis. You can also mix lemon and orange peels if you like.

Give Kitty Their Own Plant

cat eating approved grass plant

Sometimes the best solution to lure your cat away from your plants is to give them some of their own. Many pet supply stores sell cat grass kits that allow you to grow safe grass your cat can nibble on whenever they want. If you place a planter with this grass where your cat can easily reach it, they may be satisfied enough to leave your plants alone.

Keep Trying Until Something Works

While some cats are die-hard plant marauders, it is possible to keep your cat out of your plants. With a variety of options at hand, you're bound to find something that works with your pet! Just keep trying until you find an effective solution. When it comes to highly toxic plants like lilies and sago palms, it's best to keep them out of your home to eliminate any risk of harm to your pet from chewing or eating it.

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9 Techniques to Keep Cats Away From Plants