keep cats out of plants with small sticks

Keeping cats out of houseplants can be a challenge, especially when they are young. Our cat Casper had a particular love of digging in our pot plants. I tried a couple of different methods to discourage him and found one that stopped him in his tracks.

Cats are natural predators, and their ancestors relied on digging and scratching to uncover prey or create hiding spots. Digging in pot plants can be an instinctual behaviour reminiscent of this hunting behaviour. They also have a highly developed sense of smell. The soil in pot plants holds various scents that can be intriguing to cats.

To discourage cats from digging in pot plants make sure you have alternative scratching options, you can also try using deterrent scents (this didn’t work for me), or covering the soil with materials that cats find unpleasant.

It’s also essential to provide your cats with appropriate playtime, mental stimulation, and designated areas where they can engage in natural behaviours to help redirect their energy away from the plants.

lemon balm cats plants

putting lemon balm around the base can deter some cats (not Casper)

Cats may be more prone to exploring your plants if they’re bored or seeking stimulation. Ensure your cats have plenty of toys, playtime, and mental stimulation to keep them occupied.

Create a barrier around your plants using materials that cats find unpleasant. You can place prickly twigs, pine cones, or stones around the base of the plants. Cats generally dislike walking on these textures. I found spiky sticks worked the best, once there Casper didn’t try digging again.

As cats have a strong sense of smell certain scents can deter them from approaching your plants. Citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary are smells that cats typically dislike. You can try spraying diluted essential oils or placing citrus peels near your plants. Or you can try putting lemon balm around the base of your plant as cats generally dislike this herb.

For a more fancy option you can try motion-activated devices that emit sounds, bursts of air, or water sprays when they detect motion. Placing these near your plants can startle cats and discourage them from approaching.

If you suspect that your cat is trying to use your pot plants as a litter box try setting up a dedicated area with suitable cat litter for them, either in your house or outside in the garden.

Each cat is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the methods that work best for your cat.