How to Prevent Cats From Digging up Houseplants

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Having a cat is like having a young child in the house -- you have to baby-proof. This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of all of your houseplants, though. You will have to make them less desirable, move them or use repellents. Preventing cats from access to plants is important because some plants are poisonous to felines and can cause organ damage. Talk with your vet and make sure your houseplants are feline-approved. If your cat really wants to play in plants despite your efforts, it might be time to get him one of his own.

Make Them Less Desirable

You might not realize it, but digging is fun for your feline. It allows him to relieve stress, to stretch and to look for hidden treasures. Plus, your plants give him something yummy to nibble on. Since your houseplants are such attractive things for him to play with, you’ll have to make them less desirable. Place pine cones in the soil. They’ll look nice, but they can be uncomfortable for your kitty to play with, making him want to go look for something else to do. Pebbles or crumpled -- but not balled -- pieces of foil can have the same effect.

Use Repellents

Scents that are pleasurable to you, like citrus, can be overwhelming to a cat. Start keeping your orange peels. Chop those peels up and scatter them around the top of the soil. Swap them out every few days. Kitties generally don’t like the smell of citrus, so your playful friend should go running the other direction. However, if you have a truly frisky pet who tends to bat around at everything, purchase citrus oil. Add a few drops of the highly scented oil to the top of the soil instead of using those fun-to-play-with orange peels. If the orange smell won’t work, spray the leaves of the plant and the soil with water, and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. It'll either make him sneeze while digging or mildly bother his palate when he chews. Either way, he won't want to go back.

Move Them

In some cases, the only thing you can do is move your houseplants to an area where your cat can’t get to them. Instead of having several small herb plants out on your counter, for instance, put them all in a large tall planter, away from furniture or countertops. The idea is to create something that your frisky friend won’t be able to climb into or jump down on. Keep vases and smaller plants on the fireplace mantle, a bookcase or an inaccessible shelf protruding from the wall. The plants need to be in areas that are hard to get to and that don’t have any sitting space next to them.

Let Him Dig

Some cats just like to dig and play with plants -- plain and simple. If you have one such rambunctious feline, just get him a kitty-approved plant to enjoy. Your local pet store should sell grass or even fresh catnip plants that are safe for your fur ball. Rather than leave them in the plastic containers, replant the kitty greens in low pots and care for them just as you would your other houseplants. You’ll have the best of both worlds this way: Your digging comrade will have a plant to play with, and you’ll still have some fresh-looking greenery around your home.

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