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How To Stop Cats From Eating Plants: 8 Proven Methods

cat eating fallen plant
Image Credit: Natalia Kopylcova, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Dean Eby

Cats are curious, and they’re known troublemakers. They get into everything, and since they believe that everything they see belongs to them, they’ll tear things up without giving it a second thought. Sometimes, this includes your houseplants. You might find your cat ripping your plants apart or chewing on the leaves; either way, it’s not something you want to see.

Aside from the obvious mess and damage to your plants, this behavior is potentially harmful to your feline. Many plants are toxic to cats, and you might not realize that one of your houseplants is poisonous to your cat until it nibbles on one of its leaves!

So, why is your cat doing this in the first place? In this article, we’ll answer all your questions, and we’ll even provide eight methods you can use to stop your cat from eating any more plants.

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The 4 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Eating Plants

Before we start discussing the ways you can stop your cat’s plant-eating behavior, it’s important to understand why your cat is eating plants in the first place. There are four main reasons for this behavior, and your cat could be eating plants for any one of these reasons, or even for a combination of several.

1. Your Cat Is Bored

As stated in the intro, cats are curious creatures. They get bored easily. When a cat is bored, it looks for something entertaining. In this case, your cat has settled upon your plants as its new source of entertainment.

Of course, your cat doesn’t see anything wrong with this. After all, the house and everything inside belongs to its feline ruler. Any plant it sees is clearly intended to be a plaything.

Tortoiseshell looking at succulents plant in a pot
Image Credit: Zhukovskaya Elena, Shutterstock

2. Movement of the Leaves

Even if your cat wasn’t bored, it might’ve seen the movement of the plant’s leaves and decided that it looked like a toy—something interesting worth chasing, catching, and tearing apart.

3. It Likes the Texture

Once your cat tries a plant, it could decide that the texture of a plant is simply delightful, and it wants more. Maybe it’s the bark, the leaves, the stems, the dirt, or all of the above, but something on the plant has a texture that your cat is attracted to.

4. It Enjoys the Taste

Maybe it’s more than just the texture. Perhaps your cat really even likes the taste of the plant! This is especially likely if you’re growing herbs or certain flowers. But these can often be poisonous for cats, so be extra careful in such cases. Do some research on your plants and see if any are toxic to felines.

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The 8 Ways To Stop Cats From Eating Plants

Now that we understand why cats are eating plants, let’s talk about putting an end to it. There are many ways to do this, and we’ve found eight that we like. Try any or all of these until you find one that stops your cats from eating your plants.

1. Use Plants Your Cats Don’t Like

To be fair, you’re probably not going to want to replace all the plants you’ve spent so much time caring for with new plants that are specifically chosen because your cat hates them. Still, if your cat doesn’t like the plants in your home, then it won’t eat them or tear them up.

So, for new plants, opt for ones that cats won’t be attracted to, such as plants with thorns or spines. Cacti and roses are great choices.

2. Make Your Plants Unappetizing

Rather than replace all of your plants, you can simply make the plants you already have seem unappetizing to your cat. This can be easily accomplished by making a vinegar and water solution. Your cat will be repelled by the smell, but it won’t hurt your plant or cat.

a black cat with succulent plants
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

3. Booby-Trap Your Plants

Also known as remote punishment, booby-trapping your plants allows you to train your cat not to eat your plants. This is preferable to punishing your cat since you want your cat to associate the punishment with the plant and not with you.

You can use something like the PetSafe SSSCAT Motion-Activated Cat Spray. This affordable device has an infrared sensor that detects when your cat gets close and releases a harmless, odorless spray that scares your cat away from the plant, teaching it not to go near.

4. Plant Citrus Peels

Cats absolutely hate citrus. Plus, it’s toxic to them. So, citrus sprays or oils aren’t a great option. If they touch your cat, it could have a reaction.

Instead, try planting a few citrus peels from a lemon or orange in the soil with your plant. The smell from these will deter your cat and should put an end to the plant-eating.

citrus peel-pixabay
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

5. Keep Your Cats & Plants Separate

It might be easier to keep your cats out of certain rooms than to train them not to mess with your plants. Indeed, many cat owners already have rooms that are off-limits for their cats. By keeping your plants in rooms that you don’t allow your cats in, you can keep them safe from feline claws and teeth.

6. Give Your Cat Another Toy

If your cat is just messing with your plants because it’s bored, then maybe all you need to do is provide some new entertainment. Try getting your cat a new toy that will keep it engaged, such as the Frisco Cat Tracks Butterfly Cat Toy. Since it’s got hanging butterflies that appear similar to leaves, with the addition of balls and other stimuli for your feline, your cat will likely prefer the toy over the plants, opting to play with it instead.

a cat playing with toys_winni-design, Shutterstock
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

7. Surround Your Plants

Surrounding your plants with things your cat doesn’t like is an easy way to deter it. Try standing some empty soda cans around the plant. When your cat knocks them over, the noise will scare it off. You could also put something on the ground around the plant, such as aluminum foil or a plastic carpet protector.

8. Get Your Cat a Plant Of Its Own

Since your cat seems so attracted to your plants, you might consider giving it a plant that it can play with and using other methods to ensure it doesn’t play with the other plants. Some plants are completely safe for cats, such as wheat or rye. While you don’t want your cat to consume too much of any plant, these plants can be safely played with and eaten to keep your cat away from your other plants.

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Several reasons could be the cause of your cat’s plant-eating behavior. Whatever the culprit, there are even more ways to prevent it.

We’ve provided eight different methods you could employ to stop your cat from continuing to eat your plants. Whether you use just one or several in conjunction, we believe that the answer to your plant-eating problems is on this list. Hopefully, you’ll find and implement your solution, keeping your plants and cats safe from each other.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Kopylcova, Shutterstock

About the Author

Dean Eby
Dean Eby
A true Renaissance man, Dean Eby has worked a variety of hands-on careers, including home building and remodeling, personal training, and now shares his experiences and understanding as a writer. An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

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