Preventing a mess: how to keep cats from eating houseplants

A cat chewing on houseplants is not a rare sight to see. However, why do cats eat houseplants? Moreover, how to keep cats from eating houseplants?

Felines are meat-eaters, and they are ‘obligate carnivores' to boot. So, it's unusual to see them showing interest in plants.

As pet owners, we need to be always vigilant when it comes to the food they eat.

Moreover, we need to be extra careful when it comes to plants because individual plants are toxic to them.

Carnivores are adapted to consume a diet consisting mostly of meat. Their bodies are designed to absorb essential nutrients from meat.

For carnivores, plants have no nutritional value, and they're better off without consuming plant-based foods. However, why do some kitties eat plants?

It’s true that they would nibble leaves or grass when they have the chance. However, we must keep them from doing that for so many reasons.

The most alarming of these reasons is that toxic plants can kill your feline pet if they accidentally ingest them.

Unlike us humans, carnivores don’t have the necessary enzymes to break down and metabolize plant compounds.

In return, these compounds can reach a toxic level when they accumulate in the system.

Even if a plant is considered non-toxic to felines, it could still adversely affect your pet's behavior.

Moreover, in some cases, even non-toxic plants could still pose serious health problems if they are ingested in high quantities.

Aside from the potential threat on your pet's health, it could be frustrating to see your houseplants being rummaged all the time.

Felines are fond of digging soil. 

Moreover, if they can't find any ground to dig indoors, they would turn to your potted plants to satisfy their instincts.

Plants are everywhere. There are plenty of plant varieties on our backyards alone, not to mention those houseplants that are grown indoors.

Since most domestic kitties live indoors, the best question to ask right now is, how to keep cats from eating houseplants?

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to keep your furry friend from eating plants.

However, first, we need to understand the reasons why our feline companions eat plants that are inappropriate for them.

Why Do Cats Eat Plants?

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

How to keep cats from eating houseplants? However, let us first find out why our feline companions eat plants.

Let’s put ourselves in their shoes (or rather paws) to help us understand why our feline pets eat plants.

For omnivores like us, we are bestowed with a wide variety of foods that we can safely consume.

We can get our foods from animal sources and plant-based sources as well.

Unfortunately for pure carnivores, they are required to obtain their food from animal sources and nothing else.

Now, imagine eating the same type of food for the rest of your life. That would be boring, right?

Since felines are curious creatures, they often show interest in other foods that are considered ‘unusual’ for them.

Plants, in particular, may seem so impressive in their eyes more especially that they're seeing them almost everywhere. It’s only natural for them to try something new once in a while.

Why do cats eat plants? They do this not because they find plants appetizing, but it's their curiosity getting the best of them.

However, there may be some underlying reasons why they do this.

One of the possibilities why your furball nibble on plants may be because:

  • They are bored with their usual environment, and they're looking for something to keep them occupied
  • Individual plants are pleasant to them such as catnip and valerian
  • Your pet may be suffering from a sore throat and thinks that swallowing grass can help soothe this condition
  • Plants are rich in dietary fibers that may attract constipated kitties or those with upset tummies
  • Intestinal parasites may be irritating their digestive tract, and they think eating plants can help them get rid of these worms

So you see, there are other possible explanations as to why your feline buddy is eating plants.

If you suspect that their underlying health conditions involved, it's best to take your pets to the vet.

This way, your vet can help you pinpoint the real cause of your pet's odd habit. More importantly, your vet can find ways to treat your pet's health issues.

Which Plants Are Bad For My Cat?

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

Before we give you the steps on how to keep cats from eating houseplants, let us give you the list of the plants that are poisonous to cats.

As much as possible, avoid having these plants inside your homes or even in your backyard if you have a feline pet.

Here is the list of popular houseplants that are toxic to cats:

  • Aloe vera
  • Amaryllis
  • Arrowhead fern
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons
  • Boston ivy
  • Cactus
  • Caladium
  • Castor bean
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Creeping fig
  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Dieffenbachia
  • English ivy
  • Gladiola
  • Hellebore
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lilies
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Morning glory
  • Narcissus
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Peace lily
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettia
  • Pothos
  • Sago palm
  • Spanish thyme
  • Tomato leaves
  • Tulip and narcissus bulbs
  • Yew
How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

All of the plants on this list contain compounds that are poisonous to felines. Initial symptoms of toxicity may include itchiness or swelling of the skin and mouth.

If you notice visible signs of inflammation or skin irritation, consider that as a severe warning. Take your pet to the vet for immediate medical care.

In severe cases where a kitty might have ingested large quantities of these plants, symptoms may become more life-threatening.

Acute toxicity can directly affect internal organs and can be manifested by the following symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulty caused by airways obstruction
  • Difficulty in swallowing or drooling as a result of altered throat or esophagus
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain caused by gastrointestinal problems
  • Excessive thirst and urination caused by kidney failure
  • Abnormal heartbeat associated with heart failure

How to Prevent Cats from Eating Houseplants

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

So, what are the steps on how to keep cats from eating houseplants?

Maintaining houseplants inside your home becomes a little more difficult if you have a kitty around.

How do you protect your plants from your curious feline? Moreover, at the same time, how could you defend your feline pet from the dangers of eating houseplants?

Giving up on having plants inside the house is not an option. Yes, the safety of our beloved pets is our utmost priority, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you should prohibit houseplants.

Having houseplants indoors can help detoxify and re-oxygenate your home. Of course, not to forget their aesthetic effect in providing natural accents inside the house.

Keeping houseplants and feline pets under one roof are still possible if you know how to keep cats from eating houseplants.

Now that you already know some of the possible reasons why our furry pets are eating plants use this knowledge to your advantage.

Besides, all it takes is an effective strategy in attaining your goal. If you don't have time to come up with a cunning plan, then don't worry. That's the reason why we're here.

Here are some valuable tips that you can use on how to keep cats from eating houseplants:

1. Place the plants in inaccessible locations

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

The easiest (and probably the most effective) way in keeping your cats from eating houseplants is to keep the plants out of their reach. If your pet can’t access them, there’s no way it can eat them.

Place your houseplants in high places such as on top of a shelf or cabinet. However, this becomes pointless if you have a high-jumping kitty that can reach even the highest spot in your house.

Better yet, create hanging baskets in which your pet is deprived of a landing spot.

It would be impossible for them even to touch the plant if they don't have something to land on.

2. Avoid plants that are poisonous to cats

We’ve already given you the list of the most common houseplants that are toxic to felines.

Of course, we would highly recommend that you stay away from these plants if you have feline pets.

Even if you hang these plants in places where they can’t access, you can never tell what could happen.

What would you do if your kitty manages to grab the hanging baskets, making them fall down the floor? You have to entertain all undesirable possibilities that may happen.

Several plants are non-toxic to felines. Houseplants such as blue echeveria, burro's tails, Christmas cactus, pearl plant, spice orchid, and many others are considered feline-safe.

They should be fine even if they ingest some parts of these plants. However, large quantities of any plant can still be dangerous for your kitty’s health.

3. Grow a cat grass indoor garden

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

To satisfy their cravings and curiosity with plants, you can give your pet a cat grass indoors.

Felines love to gnaw on grass, and this will keep your feline pet from rampaging other houseplants.

Planting cat grass indoors is quite simple. Plant seeds of oat (wheat, rye, and barley are good options too) into a pot filled with soil.

Spray water to make the soil moist then cover the pot with a plastic wrap. Make tiny holes on the wrap for air flow.

Allow the seeds to germinate by keeping the pots in a cool, dark place.

After 2 or 3 days, tiny sprouts should emerge. Remove the plastic wrap and place the pots preferably on windowsills where they can receive sunlight.

The grass will continue to grow for the next 10 or 12 days. During this time, let your kitty nibble the grass as much as they like.

However, as soon as the grass starts to wilt or change color, remove the grass and renew planting.

4. Use cat repellent spray on the leaves

Cat repellent sprays are commonly used on items such as couch, carpets, and dressers to keep kitties away from scratching on them.

However, these products can also be used on plants too. Spray the product on both sides of the plant's leaves.

The unpleasant scent and bitter taste of cat repellent sprays will undoubtedly keep them away.

However, the effect of these sprays doesn't last long, and you may need to reapply every few days.

If you're skeptical about the harsh chemicals used in these products, then you can make your homemade cat repellent spray.

Mix apple cider vinegar and water at the equal portion and use it as a cat repellent solution.

You can also use essential oils such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint or lavender as a substitute to vinegar.

5. Ease their boredom

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

How to keep cats from eating houseplants? One of the main reasons why your feline pet nibbles plants are because they bored and had nothing else to do.

Felines are skilled hunters, and their hunting instincts will come out from time to time.

Since domestic kitties aren't able to hunt, they turn to the innocent houseplants to fulfill their desire to pursue.

You can solve this problem by giving them something that could amuse and entertain them.

Cat toys, play tunnels, scratching posts are some of the things that can distract your feline pets from boredom.

If they are occupied with plenty of amusements, it is less likely that they would pay attention to your houseplants.

6. Surround the plant with an unpleasant surface

Place a plastic carpet protector or a tin foil down around the plant to turn your kitty off from approaching it.

Additionally, you can stick plastic forks (with tines up) throughout the soil that surrounds the plant.

The plastic tines won't harm your pet, but it will surely hesitate to get near the plant when it sees those sharp tines.

7. Deter your kitty with noise

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

Our sneaky felines usually attack our houseplants when we're not looking. Moreover, when they do it, they execute it in a ninja-like quiet way.

So, imagine how it would scare them if they suddenly hear alarming noises while they’re attacking.

Use empty cans and line them up around the area where the plants are located. Form a wall made up of empty cans to guard your plants.

If your cunning kitty jumps up and knocks the wall down, the empty cans will make a noisy racket.

The clamorous sound of falling cans would be enough to send your pet flying away.

Also, the chances are good that the noise would make your pet think twice about attacking your plants again.

8. Train your cat not to get near your houseplants

How to Keep Cats from Eating Houseplants

Cats are not dogs, and they are not meant to be trained. However, teaching a kitty is still possible as long as you apply the proper methods of training.

Yelling or punishing a kitty is not the best way to train it. If you see your pet stealthily approaching your plants, you can stop it by showing your presence. 

Just the mere sight of you would be enough to make it scoot away.


Felines and houseplants are an unlikely match, but they won't hesitate to eat plants whenever they feel like it.

Whether they are bored or they need a variation in their usual food, we should always be attentive to the foods they eat.

Keep in mind that individual plants can endanger the lives of our pets. Being aware of these toxic plants can help you protect your pets from potential risks of toxicity.

However, don't let these risks scare you from having houseplants. Felines and houseplants can still live harmoniously together.

Always remember the tips on how to keep cats from eating houseplants. As long as you effectively apply these strategies, you can ensure that both your pets and plants would be safe.

If your feline friend persists on eating houseplants, then you may consider the presence of underlying health issues.

A kitty that seems to be so desperate to eat plants is not healthy anymore. In this case, bring your pet to the veterinarian to discover the root cause of this odd behavior.

More importantly, rush your pet to the vet if you suspect accidental ingestion of plants in large quantities.

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