How to Protect Your Indoor Plants from Cats

Keeping house plants is a rewarding hobby. They make your home nicer to look at, improve air quality, and have even been shown to improve your mental health. You picture yourself in your ideal home, relaxing with your cat and lush plants to complete your aesthetic. Unfortunately, indoor plants and house cats don’t always mix well together Its easy to become attached to your plants after caring for them so it can be devastating when your cat messes with them.

There are steps you can take to understand why your cat is attacking your plants and then protect them from each other. We’ve used this blog post to run through some of the reasons your cat is destroying your plants and what you can do to cat proof your indoor cats.

We also need to mention that some plants can be toxic or deadly to your house pets. Its important that you make sure that any plants you bring home are safe for your companions or at least placed safely out of the way from them.

Is it normal for my cat to eat house plants?

It’s quite normal for cats to eat, chew, or bite plants. In fact a recent survey by the university of California found that 89% of cats eat plants, at least to their owner’s knowledge. It’s also normal for cats to regularly munch on plants, 65% of the cats from the same study ate plants on a weekly basis. Some people think that cats eat plants to help with digestion or to force themselves to be sick. Most of these theories haven’t been proven. You only need to take your cat to the vet if they are eating toxic or deadly plants. When protecting your plants from your house cats, its useful to understand why they are damaging them in the first place. There are lots of reasons your cat is behaving like this ranging from boredom to medical conditions.

Why is my cat eating my house plants?

Some cats may eat plants to take more fiber in their diet. The science isn’t conclusive, but a recent study by the University of California suggests that younger cats naturally feel the compulsion to eat plants to help them pass out parasites that they would normally have in the wild. Although indoor cats are protected from parasites, they still feel the need to eat plants and it is difficult for them to shake it off.

It could be difficult to make compulsive cats like this stop eating plants around the house. To satisfy this need, you can try growing some cat grass and leaving it in an accessible space so your cat has a better alternative to munch on. Cat grass is very easy to grow and inexpensive. Most cats will start eating cat grass by themselves. Although it is not completely necessary if they are eating a healthy diet, your cat will probably appreciate having cat grass around as it satisfies their natural compulsion to add fibre to their die to help pass parasites.

Why is my cat biting my plants?

If you have noticed your plants are being ripped up and bitten but not eaten your cat may be playing with your plants out of boredom. This can be more common with plants that have long dangling leaves which bounce up and down when are pulled on like a spider plant. Chewing and swatting on a leaf is a fun way to pass the time for a bored cat. If you regularly chase after your cat when you catch them doing this, they may even start attacking the plant as they know it will get your attention.

Bored cats are never good, and they can develop behavioural issues and even depression. If you think your cat is chewing on plants out of boredom, you need to take steps to enrich their lives by making their living space more interesting and giving them regular play. A satisfied cat will destroy less property in your house. All cats need play time with their humans but indoor cats and some breeds like the Maine Coon will need even more play.

If your cat also compulsively chews on other objects like cardboard, plastics, or strings they may have Pica. This is a condition typical in cats of all ages and types but is more common in kittens and certain breeds like Siamese cats. Pica sometimes goes away as your cat grows older but it may also stay and has no real long term treatment. If your pet has Pica will need to either put your plants out of their reach or try cat deterrents around your plants.

How to cat-proof your house plants

There are some easy ways you can protect your house plants from your indoor cats. Cats have a very strong sense of smell, its fourteen times more powerful than ours. Smells that are strong to us can be overwhelming to a cat.

Most cats will hate plants that have a strong smell. Popular plants that you can grow to deter cats include mint, lavender, and rosemary. You can grow some of these and place them around your other plants to deter your cat from exploring the area. A small amount of cayenne pepper can also be sprinkled on the top layer of soil of your house plants to stop cats from pawing through the dirt. The smell should be enough to make any cats walk away when they stick their nose into the pot. This shouldn’t cause any harm to your house plant or cat. Some cats don’t mind particular smells but detest others so you should try a range of smelly plants before giving up.

Some people have tried growing cacti and thorny bushes around their plants, but we have had mixed success with this. The idea is that the spikes on these plants will prod in to your cats and make them think twice about touching your other plants. Some cats just see these plants as scratchers, it really depends on the cat and what their past experiences have been.

Its annoying, but the most effective way to cat proof your plants is to keep them out of the reach of your cats. High shelving and hanging baskets are popular ways to do this. Sometimes just raising a plant up enough so that your cat would have to work harder to get to it is enough to make it less appealing to your cat to destroy. This is especially true if you give them a more accessible plant to purposefully destroy like cat grass.

Summary

It is very normal for cats to chew or eat house plants, a vast majority off them do it at some point in their life and many do it regularly. Its not entirely clear why they do this, but studies guess that eating plants is a compulsion cats have to help them pass parasites that they would naturally have in the wild. If your cat is regularly eating plants, they will only need a vet appointment if they have eaten a toxic or deadly plant. Cats only need to eat a very small amount of some plants like lilies before they die. Make sure that any house plants or flowers are cat friendly.

You can stop a cat from eating house plants by introducing new plants with smells that cats hate in the same area. Cats hate indoor plants like mint, lavender, curry leaf, and rosemary. If this doesn’t work, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper on to the top layer of soil. If you think your cat is destroying your plants out of boredom, they may stop this behaviour if you give them more play and enrichment. Your cat would also probably benefit from having some cat grass around. They may start ignoring your house plants if you make this cat grass easier to get to than your other house plants.