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How to Keep Cats Away from Plants – 8 Simple Tips

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By Misty Layne

Cat House Plant Philodendron

Cats and green thumbs do not always mix and plant-loving cat owners are all too familiar with this challenge. Whether it be the mangled plants, the mess from the constant tipping of pots, or the potential dangers that certain plants pose to our cat’s health, we can all agree this is a problem that needs solving.

There must be something you can do about it, right? Well, that’s why we are here. Below, we cover the reasons why your cat is so interested in plants and some things you can try to keep them away from your plants.

Why Do Cats Love Plants So Much?


We’re sure you have heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” That’s because cats are very curious creatures, so much so that it can get them into trouble. Different types of plants have varying textures, and they may simply enjoy the feel of chewing on objects that feel different. This can be dangerous due to the fact that some plants pose a danger to cats because of toxicity.

Cats do not have nearly as many taste buds as dogs or humans, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the taste of some plants. Regardless, their curious nature typically leads them to gnaw on plant life both indoors and outdoors.

Kitten and Majesty Palm Plant
Image Credit: Taylor Linkes, Shutterstock


Some cats show interest in plants out of boredom and the need for entertainment. Some kitties will go on the hunt for something to play with and keep them busy. Plants can be very stimulating for cats, especially those with long vines and leaves. They can bat them around, chew on them, and destroy them, what fun!

You may also like: 10 Best Cat Toys for Bored Cats – Reviews & Top Picks

8 Tips for Keeping Cats Away from Plants

1. Keep Plants Out of Reach

Your cat will almost inevitably be tempted to mess around with your houseplants. Not only are some houseplants outright dangerous to cats, but cats are also equally as dangerous to the plants. One way to keep your cats out of the plants is to keep them far out of reach.

Nowadays, there are many hanging pots and displays that are easy to keep up and out of reach of wandering paws. You may have to get a bit creative with your decorating skills, but it is definitely possible.

2. Use Citrus As a Deterrent

Citrus is commonly used as a deterrent for cats since they have a natural aversion to all things citrus. You see, cats have a very sensitive sense of smell, and these acidic, aromatic fruits tend to leave cats going the opposite way. You can use a mixture of water and the juice from citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, or oranges to simply spray down the houseplants. Vinegar is a good deterrent for cats as well but spraying your plants with vinegar can cause harm to the plants, so it is best avoided in this case.

woman spraying water on plant
Image Credit: TSViPhoto, Shutterstock

3. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper Around the Leaves

You can rest assured that your cat will have no desire to get near any cayenne pepper. Again, they have a sensitive and strong sense of smell so they are naturally deterred by strong scents. Lots of commercial cat deterrents include cayenne pepper due to the capsaicin, which makes the pepper so spicy and hot. Cayenne pepper is not toxic for cats, which is why it is so popular as a deterrent.

Keep in mind that it can cause them discomfort and irritation if consumed, so if you have a particularly curious cat that is not so easily deterred, you may want to try other avenues first.

Related Reading: How to Make Homemade Spray to Keep Cats From Eating Plants (8 Steps)

4. Try a Spray Bottle

Cats may not be easy to train, but one thing you can try is the notorious spray bottle. You’ve likely heard of using a spray bottle of water as a deterrent for getting on the counters or up on other surfaces you need to keep them from. Why not give it a go when they head toward the houseplants?

This may not work for all cats, but it is worth a try. The only issue with this tactic is that not everyone is always home to spray the cat each time they head for a plant. Plus, we’ll admit it’s not a favorable teaching approach among all cat parents, some find it a bit mean. If cats can see you doing the spraying they may associate you with the discomfort, which can impact your relationship.

water spray bottle
Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay

5. Try Cat Grass or Catnip

There’s nothing wrong with getting your cat their own plant, especially if they are particularly fond of houseplants. Providing your cat with a pot filled with cat grass or catnip is a great way of having the best of both worlds. Though cat grass and catnip are entirely different plants, both are safe for kitties and will provide them enrichment and the ability to act out their natural behaviors. In addition, to be perfectly safe, these plants are also very easy to grow so you don’t have to stress about your green thumb or lack thereof.

6. Keep the Plants Trimmed

Keeping your plants properly trimmed will help keep your cat away from them. Most of the time, cats are enticed by long, flowing plants that make great play toys. Like wand toys, they like to bat around the lengthy leaves and get satisfaction out of the movement. Keeping your plants trimmed regularly will help to keep the stimulation to a minimum.

trimming hedges
Image Credit: tab62, Shutterstock

7. Create Your Own Plant Room

Who wouldn’t want their own plant sanctuary in the house? If you have the space, set aside a room that is dedicated to your plants. You can make it your own green, peaceful haven that is free of kitty teeth and claws. This is a great idea to keep your cat entirely away from your plants by never allowing them access. Unfortunately, this won’t work for everyone, as not all owners are going to have the extra space in their home to dedicate to plants only.


8. Opt for Fake Plants Instead

One way to keep your cats out of the live house plants is to decorate with fake plants. Many fake plants on the market are so realistic looking you can hardly distinguish them from real live plants. The good news about fake plants? You cannot kill them, so no green thumb or maintenance of any kind is required. Keep in mind that not all cats will be deterred by fake plants. You will have the occasional mischievous kitty that still goes after the fake ones,

but they are generally less of a hazard to your pet’s health than toxic plants.

cat with succulent plant by the window
Image Credit: Zhukovskaya Elena, Shutterstock

Say No to Toxic Plants

The best way to ensure your cat is safe from any potential toxicity is to keep toxic varieties out of the house entirely. While plants can vary in toxicity, some of these plants are potentially deadly to cats and the only way to make 100% sure your cat is not at risk, is to not have them at all. Any pet owner that chooses to keep toxic houseplants in their home, should be well aware of the signs and symptoms of toxicity and have either a Pet Poison Helpline or an emergency veterinarian’s number nearby.

Common Houseplants

Having knowledge of the houseplants that are safe for cats and those that put your cat at risk of toxicity if chewed on or ingested is important. Below we have listed some of the most common houseplants that have toxic effects on cats, and those that do not. This is not a complete list by any means, but one can be found here.

Common Toxic Houseplants
  • Aloe Vera
  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coleus
  • Dumb Canes
  • English Ivy
  • Jade
  • Lilies
  • Poinsettia
  • Pothos
  • Rhododendrons
  • Sago Palm
  • Swiss Cheese Plant
pothos plant outdoors
Image Credit: sweetlouise, Pixabay
Common Safe Houseplants
  • Areca Palm
  • Baby Rubber Plant
  • Bamboo Vine
  • Dwarf Banana Plant
  • Ghost Plant
  • Money Tree
  • Moth Orchid
  • Parlor Palm
  • Prayer Plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Zebra Cactus
  • Succulents


The good news is that you do not have to choose between your cat and your houseplants. There are many different tips and tricks you can try to keep your cat steering clear of your plants. If that does not work, there are ways you can keep the cat(s) entirely separate from the plants.

Not only will this help reduce mess and save the lives of many plants, but it can also keep your cat from getting into any houseplants that pose the risk of poisoning to your cat.

See also: 10 Great Plants to Keep Cats Away with Pictures

Featured Image Credit: Foto2rich, Shutterstock

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