Cats and Houseplants

Can cats and houseplants co-exist?

It's possible for cats and houseplants to co-exist in (relative) harmony, provided you take some simple steps to promote it.

  1. Remove poisonous plants from areas your cat can access.
    New owners are often unaware of the potential hazard common houseplants can pose to their cat. A large number of houseplants are poisonous and a select few can be fatal. To check your plants, visit our page of plants poisonous to cats . You should also check that fertilisers and insecticides used will not poison your cat.
  2. Introduce cat friendly plants.
    Now that the poisonous plants are safely out the door you may wish to fill in any gaps.
    Cat grass is highly recommended and can be purchased from most pet stores. Cats are often scolded for chewing on houseplants but they may simply be craving vitamins or minerals that plants provide. By offering cat grass you're not only providing an excellent source of minerals you're also protecting other plants from being chewed as kitty looks to satisfy a craving. It's worth noting that any plant that looks like grass can, and probably will, be treated as grass by kitty.
    We've compiled a page of cat friendly plants that are non hazardous to cats.
  3. Protect the plants from kitty.
    At times it may seem that kitty is hell bent on destroying every plant and spreading dirt throughout the house. But with a little understanding and a lot of patience it's possible to minimise the damage to your plants.

    • Plant pots The simple solution is to move your plants out of harms way and hang them up. For those that can't be hanged choose heavy pots with a wide base that are harder to tip over.
    • Cover the soil. A common problem can be digging in the soil. If kitty is then urinating you should first check that the litter tray meets your cats high standard of hygiene. Some cats seem to just prefer dirt to litter, so the next step is to cover or mulch the soil. The most natural and effective soil cover are large stones, big enough that your cat can't easily move them. You can also use aluminium foil or strips of sticky tape over the top of the plant pot to deter your cat.
    • Scents. Scents can be used but results are ropey. Citrus peel and tabasco sauce are common deterrents however they need to be re-applied often and your cat will probably become accustomed to them over time.
    • Behaviour training. Cats will often play with houseplants out of boredom. If you see kitty eyeing up your plants, try playing with them to distract them. If they start scratching your larger plants, ensure you have adequate scratching posts in the room and that they're closer to the door than the plant is. A curious thing about cats is they like to scratch when entering a room, placing a scratching post near the door can help save both plants and furniture. Bugs are also of immense interest to cats, a quick check on the plant will tell you if it's the bugs rather than the plant they're after. As a last resort, squirting kitty with a water pistol when they're misbehaving will teach your cat to associate the plant (and not you) with an unpleasant experience.

If you can accept that you're going to loose the occasional plant and may have to vacuum a little more often than normal, then house plants can play an excellent role in creating a better environment for both you and your cat.