How to Keep Cats Out Of Plants

It's much nicer to have your house pet trained to respect your space and to use its own space, especially when it comes to your decorative plants. Keeping your cats out of poisonous or toxic plants is also a matter of safety. Thus, there are two issues: protecting your cat from plants and protecting your plants from your cat. Here's what you can do to protect your pet and protect your plants:

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper around any outdoor plants that may have been treated with pesticides. Your cat won't go near the cayenne pepper [source: ASPCA].
  • Cover the top of your houseplant's pot with some kind of mesh, such as window screening, chicken wire or needlepoint netting. Make a slit in the netting so it will fit around the plant's stems, and slide it over the plant so that it covers the soil's surface.
  • Spread citrus peels around the base of the plants. Cats won't go near citrus fruits or peels [source: Smith].
  • Put prickly pine cones, large pebbles or stones, or aluminum foil in your houseplant's pots [source: Smith].
  • Place double-sided sticky tape around the top of the planter.
  • Spray your cat with water if you see it near or in your plant. This will serve as a deterrent [source: Tufts].
  • Spray the leaves of non-toxic plants with something that tastes terrible, such as Grannick's Bitter Apple® or Veterinarian's Best® Bitter Cherry Spray [source: ASPCA].

Remember, plant eating is a normal cat behavior. Plants provide cats with dietary fiber, which acts as a laxative or an emetic to relieve hairballs. You can place a pot of non-toxic grasses, such as wheat grass, near the plants you want them to avoid [source: Tufts].


Some plants are potentially toxic to cats, and cause reactions ranging from mild nausea to death. Cat-proof your house by removing forbidden or toxic plants [source: ASPCA].