How To Stop Cats From Eating Plants (8 Proven Methods)

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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants

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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants
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.

Read more  Cat Nutrition – Feeding Your Senior Cat

How to keep cats from chewing on plants

The 8 Ways in How 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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants
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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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

5. Keep Your Cats and 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.

Read more  10 Tips To Know What Cats Can Eat From the Fridge

How to keep cats from chewing on plants
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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants

Conclusion: Keep Cats From Eating Plants

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.

How to keep cats from chewing on plants

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Kopylcova, Shutterstock

— Update: 15-03-2023 — found an additional article How to Stop Your Cat From Munching On All of Your Precious Plants from the website for the keyword how to keep cats from chewing on plants.

Since at least March 2020, your plants have been your babies. You carefully chose them, picked out the pots that would fit their size and needs, and watched as they thrived in your new lockdown-hellhole-turned-greenhouse.

Enter: your cat, who also spent all of lockdown with you and, like your plants, continues to live in your home. You’ve done your research to make sure your plant children are not toxic to your cat child, and that’s a good thing because your kitty cannot stop nibbling on the peromia plant in your windowsill.

Facepalm forever.

Why Does My Cat Eat My Plants?

The answer may be unsatisfyingly simple. Wild felines regularly ingest plants, and it seems to be a behavior that our domestic cats have inherited from their ancestors. Many cats eat plants because they enjoy the taste. Others consume plants because they are bored, stressed, or attracted by the movement of the plants.

Young cats are more prone to plant-eating than older cats, which suggests that their playfulness and attempts to entertain themselves may be a part of the plant-eating puzzle. There is some evidence that cats — carnivores though they are — take an interest in plants when they need a little help with their digestion. Eating plants is not a way to expel fur balls, though many people have suggested that it is.

Read more  How to Stop Your Cat From Munching On All of Your Precious Plants

Can My Houseplants Be Saved From My Cat?

You’re spending so much time and effort trying to sneak kale into your morning smoothie and get your daily intake of vitamins and greens. Sadly, the only one who’s truly on board is the lone individual who shouldn’t be eating green things — the cat. Your houseplants are suffering from this feline fetish with flowers (and leaves and stems). You want to make sure your cat is safe, first and foremost, and also protect your plants.

What Can Be Done About It? 

Behavior change always poses a challenge, and it’s almost always easier with a combination of approaches — some prevention and management, some allowing them to do what comes naturally to them in a safe way, and some active behavioral modification.

Cats can’t chew on plants they can’t reach, so making your treasured potted plants inaccessible is one part of the plan for harmony in the home. Strategically placing hanging baskets can keep those dangling leaves out of reach — for example — and so can floating shelves. In the case of plants that are truly dangerous to cats, I advise putting them in rooms the cats don’t have access to or even gifting them to cat-free friends for the safety of all. Common toxic houseplants include lilies, philodendrons, English ivy, pothos, snake plants, and dieffenbachia.

Cats find plants appealing, but if we can make them appealing, the chewing behavior ceases. Many cats don’t care for citrus, so you can put water with lemon, lime, or orange juice in low concentration n a spray bottle and spritz it on house plants. You can also put aluminum foil around the base of the plant; a lot of cats find stepping on foil unpleasant. 

Give Them Another Option

Sometimes, the best way to avoid behavioral problems is to offer an acceptable alternative. Create a garden for your cats full of things they consume like goblins. So, instead of telling your cat not to chew plants at all, you are giving the instruction, “Chew these plants, not those plants.” Catnip, silver vine, cat thyme, and rosemary are all cat-friendly plants to consider, though it’s always wise to check with your veterinarian to find out which options are best for your particular cat.

Boredom is the enemy of a well-behaved cat, so make it easy for your cat to leave the plants alone by making plenty of other options for entertainment available. Enrichment options include catios and cat trees, boxes to use as tunnels, and food puzzles. Playful cats often love the motion of the leaves and vines of houseplants, so offering opportunities to play in other ways — either with you or with toys on their own — often results in saving the plants.

Basically, in order to save your sweet, fragile plant babies, you just need to put in a little effort to appease your cat. Truly, what’s new?


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About the Author: Tung Chi