My Indoor Cat

How to keep cats out of house plants

How to keep cats out of house plants

I used to have a beautiful banana palm in my kitchen which really thrived in the sunny corner. It was huge, healthy and, whilst it never actually gave me any bananas, it was always a bit of a showstopper. That was until one morning I came down to find it looking a bit limp. Nothing had changed. I’d watered it. So what could it be? I got my answer a few days later when I caught my naughty cat going about his business right there in the plant pot. No shame.

And it’s not just plant health that’s at risk. Some plants can be really poisonous to cats too (you can find a list of cat-friendly plants here). Keep reading if you want to know how to keep cats out of house plants.

Why does my cat poop in my house plants?

Before we go into how to keep cats away from indoor plants, it’s probably a good

  • They like the taste. Cats are naturally curious and they use taste as a key sense when they’re exploring. Eating cat-friendly plants is ok for them, but you’ll want to make sure they don’t eat too much as it could cause vomiting, nausea or diarrhoea. 
  • Leaves are fun. Rustling, crinkly leaves are fun things for cats to bat around. They move in an interesting way and make a noise – which cats love!
  • They’re bored. Cats might make their own fun by digging up your house plants. You can find some tips on keeping indoor cats entertained here.

Why do cats love plants so much?

It’s not all about pooping. Some cats love to chew, lie in, play with and dig up your indoor plants. But why?

  • It’s natural. Cats like to do their business on soft earth. It’s comfortable for them and they can easily dig it over afterwards.
  • Is their litter tray clean? Their litter tray may already be full up so they’re looking for somewhere else to go.
  • Is it cold outside? Outdoor cats, quite understandably, might be a little picky about going to the bathroom in very cold weather. You can encourage them to go anyway, or a litter tray could work for these periods.
  • Something medical? A cat urinating or pooping more regularly and in unusual places could be a sign of something medical. If you suspect this, take them to the vet for a check-up. 
how to keep cats away from indoor plants

Choose your plants wisely

Of course, you want to make sure you choose plants that aren’t poisonous for your cat, but you can also choose a few that they naturally won’t like. Cats have a really strong sense of smell and don’t like overly perfumed plants. Rosemary is a great option and is one that smells lovely to us but not to them!

You can also get cacti and roses. Cats aren’t silly and even those that really enjoy digging will give thorny plants a wide berth. You could also use a scaredy-cat plant (Coleus Canina) which is so named because it smells so bad that cats and dogs hate it. You’d be sacrificing a lot though because these plants smell like skunks and are pretty hated by humans too. 

Make them unappealing

Cats really don’t like anything citrus, so if your plants don’t naturally smell, leaving orange, lemon or lime peel around the bottom could deter them from using that plant as a bathroom. You can also dilute lemon juice and spray it directly onto the leaves (checking first that the acid won’t affect them). If it does, spray the pot instead.

Cats also don’t like the texture or sound of tin foil. Try scrunching up a few sheets and putting them around the base of the plant or stack a few tin foil plates. If they fall, they’ll make a bit of a crash and your cat won’t consider pooping or digging there again!

Train them!

Cats are highly intelligent animals and they can be (fairly) easily trained. To get them using the litter tray, try positively reinforcing their behaviour every time you see them going there. Likewise, you might want to make a loud noise or spray them with a little water whenever you see them heading over to a plant. This doesn’t hurt them (of course!) but they’ll think twice before doing it again.

how to keep cats away from house plants
how to keep cats from pooping in house plants

Give them their own plants

A great way to keep cats from pooping in house plants is to give them their own designated greenery that they can do what they like with. If they have their own area, such as a cateo, they’ll really benefit from plants as stimulation. Try giving them a spider plant. It’s safe for them to chew on and they love the long leaves. You could also give them catnip or cat grass which they’ll prefer to any other plant in the house!

Make them less accessible

Plants on the floor obviously make great (and easy) bathrooms. To avoid them being used as such, you can hang them, put them on shelves or generally just make it more difficult for your cats to get to. Make sure any hanging plants aren’t close to furniture which could be used as a launchpad. 

You could also create an entire plant room that’s a cat-free zone.

Add stones, pebbles or shells

This is particularly good if your cat is a digger. Adding heavy stones can make it more difficult to dig and therefore make that plant less appealing as a toilet. Make sure you roughly lay them so water and air can still get through. They can look nice too!

how to keep cats from pooping in my potted plants

So, hopefully, now you know exactly how to keep cats out of house plants. Are there any other tips you’ve found that work?  Let us know we’d love to hear from you.


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