how to keep cats away from plants

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Cats are very active and playful, especially kittens. They extend their games all over the house and sometimes they can start chewing your houseplants to the extent that it becomes worse.

When many people find their house plants chewed off, they tend to assume that it may be caterpillars within the plant’s ecosystem that are doing that.

To their surprise, it turns out that the cat in the house is guilty of this behavior and they don’t know how to go about it.

Learning how to keep cats away from plants should be seen as a very crucial thing considering that cats, just like all other pets, are not human beings and therefore you cannot use word of mouth to tell them what is good from what is bad.

You also need to be very careful when buying the plants to be kept within your house. Some plants are good to our eyes but very toxic to cats when ingested.

Even if your ultimate goal is to completely keep away cats from your houseplants, I will advise that you consider buying non-toxic plants for the safety of your cat. Read more about plants that are toxic to cats.

Another reason for keeping your cat out of the plant is that these feline friends may end up digging out the soil on your plant and in the process may find it comfortable to poop in this area. I believe you do not want your cat to transform this habit into a character.

It is much easier to train a young cat to follow certain behavioral changes than a mature one. Not all cats will have similar response times when subjecting them to certain training. The key thing is to be consistent in the training.

In this article, I will highlight the tips that worked for me and I hope that they will work for you too.

Why do Cats Chew Plants?

As you well know, cats are carnivores meaning that they feed primarily on meat and meat products. Cats are fond of chewing houseplants for several reasons and none of them should scare you. 

1. Your cat may just be attracted to the smell and taste of your houseplant and as a result, he ends up chewing it.

2. Cats may also chew plants for added fiber and to help out with their digestive system.

3. Boredom may as well instigate cats to start chewing houseplants. So, make sure that you spend some playing time with your cat to drive out boredom from him.

In the unlikely event that your cat chews a toxic houseplant, please get in touch with a veterinary as soon as possible. Make sure you carry the toxic plant with you when you visit the vet for identification and effective measures to be taken.

8 Tips on How to Keep Your Cat Away From Plants

Many approaches have been put forward on how to keep cats out of plants and there is one that is very common yet dangerous to the cat.

It involves spraying your plants with cayenne pepper or chili powder. This approach is very common on the internet and I have heard many people talk about it by word of mouth as a recommendation.

Chili Powder

Yes, cats indeed abhor the smell of cayenne pepper and chili, and spaying the powder on your houseplants, is a very sure way of trying to keep the cat away.

But here is the twist, in one way or another, the cat will step on the plant area or soil that contains the cayenne pepper and chili powder.

When the cat engages in body cleaning at some point, he will introduce the powder laced in his feet to his eyes.

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We all know how itchy it is to have chili powder in the eye. The cat will then try to remove the itchiness by rubbing his eyes to the extent of hurting his own eyes or more.

As a result, this approach is totally not recommended as I am sure that the last thing we want is to see our furbabies get hurt.

So now let’s talk about the 8 tips that are sure to help and are not harmful to your cat.  

1. Play with your cat

As noted earlier, one of the reasons why cats end up chewing houseplants is that they are bored. To keep your cat from boredom, you need to engage her with active playing and training sessions.

You can also drop treats in random places within your house and that way, your cat will always be active in ways other than chewing your houseplants.

2. Check on the placement of your houseplant

This method will work well if you only have a few houseplants. Placing them in strategic places where the cat cannot easily see or reach is a good move.

For example, you can raise it to high levels, a good example is hanging the plant on the ceiling of your house.

By doing this, your cat will no longer be able to easily see the good sweet-smelling plant whereas the plant still achieves its purpose in your house.

If your plant is already in a suitable pot, you will need to purchase hooks that will enable it to stay up.

3. Use citrus fruits peels

Cats do not like the smell produced by freshly cut citrus fruits. You can prove this by cutting a piece of lemon and allowing your cat to smell it. You will immediately notice the reaction from the cat as it turns away.

You can use orange, lemon, or lime peels to put on the soil around your houseplant and make sure that the smell is strong enough that you can also feel it.

Cats abhor this smell and as a result, they will keep off the houseplants as long as the smell is active.

The big disadvantage with this method is that the peels dry fast and after a day or two, there is no much smell to turn your cat away from the plant.

This means that you will need to replace the citrus peels daily for the entire training session until your cat detests the plant completely.

4. Use essential oils

Another method is to use essential oils such as citrus, spearmint, or peppermint to create a cat repellent spray that will help in keeping your kitty away from houseplants.

You will take the essential oil of your choice and dilute it with water while being keen on the smell.

Cats are very sensitive to smell and I think it is a good measure to use their strength in showing them things that are not supposed to be done.

After you have diluted your essential oil, you will then spray on your houseplants at least once a day. Make sure you spray moderately so that you also avoid choking the plants with the homemade repellent.

Once again, this method reduces its potency level very rapidly and so you will have to be keen and keep the spraying in check.

5. Use noise for distraction

Cats do not like noise and especially if they know that they caused the noise, it is distasteful for them.

This method entails the use of items that produce noise when the cat engages with them. A good example is aluminum foil.

You can strategically place the foil on areas within the houseplant such that when the cat steps on it, the resulting noise will scare the cat away.

You can also use empty cans for this procedure, but then in such a way that the cans will fall on the floor and make a noise that will send the cat flying.

6. Put pebbles on the houseplant soil

Cats are fond of digging out the smooth loam soil of the houseplant as a way of playing with the dirt.

You can try to stop this by putting some pebbles or small stones on top of the soil surface to make it unattractive and difficult for cats to dig out.

Be careful with the type of stones you put on the soil because some stones absorb heat during the day and end up supplying the same to the plant during the night.

This might choke the plant and inhibit the uptake of nutrients by the plant.

In this method, make sure you use pebbles that appear good to the eye so that you do not compromise the look of your houseplants.

7. Buy a Cat Plant

You love houseplants, right? You love cats too and they love chewing your houseplants. It is a good idea to consider getting a cat plant (or cat grass) for your feline friend.

You can buy cat grass in any pet store where you often get your treats from. Cat grass is a good source of fiber and vitamins especially B’s for your cat.

A small disadvantage here is to teach your cat how to play with the cat grass and leave your houseplants alone. Cats are not human and you will not use word of mouth to accomplish this task.

The best way to go about it is by deterring your cat every time you see him eating the houseplants.

Here’s how you can do this, whenever you see your cat eating the houseplants you can carry him immediately and put him on the cat grass. After you see him eating the cat grass, give him a treat.

The kitty will quickly learn that there is something good that comes with engaging with the cat plant rather than engaging with the houseplant.

In this way, it will be easy for the cat to develop the habit of staying away from your houseplants.

A good way to make this method more effective is by combining it with the smell-associated repellents on the houseplants.

8. Using a spritzer bottle

In this method, you will use water in a spritzer bottle to try and keep cats out of plants. I am not talking about spraying the cat directly with water.

In any case, if you spray your cat with water using the spritzer bottle, it may see you as an enemy and might not want to come near you for that reason.

When your cat is around the houseplants, you can spray the adjacent wall, the floor, or the plant itself.

The sound produced by the spritzer is irritating to the cat and he will soon learn of the association between that sound and the houseplants.

After removing the cat from the houseplant thanks to the spray, you can then direct him to the cat grass and give him some treats. Doing this reward mechanism is good for behavior changes in cats and other pets.

Another advantage of this method is that you will end up watering your plant or introducing a wet environment which is good for plant growth and development.


As you can see there are many ways of achieving our goal of how to keep cats away from plants. From my experience, not all methods work with all cats, there are some which might work with my cat but will not work with yours.

The trick here is to keep trying different methods and figure out the one that makes changes with your cat.

After figuring it out, you can then capitalize on the single method until your cat is disassociated from your plants.

As you have seen, most techniques work on the principle of negative association followed by a positive reward and enforcement.

In the sense that when your cat for example is heading towards the houseplant, you can negatively impact that by using a spritzer spray, then followed by a positive reward of treats and enforcement on the cat grass.

I recommend training your cat on good habits when they are young so that they grow knowing the good things to follow and the things you do not like.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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