Skip to Content

9 Effective Ways to Keep Cats out of Indoor Plants

9 Effective Ways to Keep Cats out of Indoor Plants

Share this post:

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page might be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you grow indoor plants and have cats determined to make trouble, that’s a recipe for a disaster!

Having both cats and plants in the same house can cause a series of problems.

The first is that some cats like to chew on leaves, leading to damaged plants or sick kitties.

The second is the simple fact that some cats like to knock things over for the fun of it.

Some cats also like digging in the potted dirt and using it as their litter box. Aside from being unsanitary, this can harm your plants greatly.

So, what can you do to keep your cats out of your indoor plants?

7 Effective Ways To Keep Cats Out Of Indoor Plants

Before you decide between your plants and your pets, try a few of my techniques below to help everyone get along!

1 – Try a Repellent Spray

There are plenty of repellent sprays on the market that can make your cat turn its nose when it gets too close to your plants. If you don’t want store-bought sprays, you can always make your own with household ingredients.

Cute Little Kitten Playing In Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Pot

A mix of water and highly perfumed soap (like lavender or citrus) will do the trick. Or, you can use a puree of garlic in water for a similar but more powerful approach.

Some people recommend vinegar sprays because the potent smell is enough to keep the cats away, but I don’t encourage that.

Vinegar may be safe for you and your pets, but it’s still an acid, and it shouldn’t be anywhere near your plants.

2 – Add a Layer of Stone Mulch

Cats like to dig in loose soil and use it for littering, and we all know what houseplants have plenty of: loose soil!

To keep your cat away from your plant’s soil, try adding a layer of heavy pebbles to the surface near the roots.

As long as it’s not too tightly packed, it should still allow water to seep through to the soil underneath. It doesn’t have the same feel as a litter box, so it won’t be tempting for the cats.

You could also use large pieces of smooth glass, rough pine cones, seashells, or broken ceramics if you prefer a more decorative look.

3 – Alter the Placement of Your Plants

Hanging Planters

You may have to resort to just moving your plants so that your cats can’t reach them. However, that can prove tricky if you’re short on space or if you have determined cats that will still find a way to wreak havoc.

Hanging baskets can be a good idea if they’re not close to any furniture, and containers that mount directly to the wall (no shelf) will do the trick as well. If you don’t want to ruin your aesthetics, macrame plant hangers are a beautiful option to keep your potted plants out of reach.

4 – Create Unpleasant Surroundings

If all else fails to keep the cats away, you’ll have to create unpleasant surroundings to protect your plants. Having something loud and startling happen when the cats jump by can be enough to break the habit.

This works best with plants on a table or shelf where there is extra space around the pots to work with.

For example, you can use some loosely placed tin-foil plates. These will create a racket when knocked over, which will scare the cats awai.

Alternatively, you can create a sticky surface your cat won’t want to walk over.

Double-sided tape laid out between your plant pots can be excellent to create a barrier as long as you don’t allow enough space for jumping around between the tape.

5 – Clean the Litter Box

If your cats are constantly doing their business in your indoor plant pots, a dirty litter may be the cause. If you don’t clean the litter box enough, the cats will start looking for a new place, which is more often than not an innocent house plant.

Make sure the litter box is cleaned frequently, and put it in an easy-to-access place. If the cat keeps avoiding the box even when it’s clean, you may want to consider changing the litter type.

Cats sometimes get picky after years of using the same litter products, so don’t count this out as an issue just because things have long been “fine.”

6 – Provide Plants for Your Cats

Cat Is Eating Fresh Green Grass. Cat Grass, Pet Grass.

If your cats absolutely adore your house plants, it may be time to get them some plants of their own.

A pot of catnip would probably be too loved, but you can keep a pot of mint, cat grass ( a mix of oat or barley grass) or thyme. Cats tend to like these, and they are perfectly safe to be chewed occasionally, so you won’t have to worry about the cats.

Use a couple of the other techniques for your “real” plants, and the new plants should grab the cats’ attention long enough.

7 – Put Orange Peels Nearby

Most animals dislike the citrusy smell of oranges and lemons, and cats are no exception. If the area around your plants constantly smells like oranges, there’s a high chance they’ll stop coming around it.

To achieve that, collect some orange peels and put them around the plant pots. That should keep your cats away for a while, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t a permanent solution.

For starters, you’ll have to replace the peels constantly. Plus, they may start attracting fruit flies, which are even more annoying than cats knocking plants around! So, only use this fix if you have something else in mind but are in a hurry.

8 – Use Physical Barriers

Though this isn’t my favorite solution, it’s sometimes the only option. 

You can keep cats away from your plants if you install some physical barriers, like chicken wire or wire cloches. Some cloche options are decorative enough for indoor plants, but it’s still not a nice look.

If you’re willing for a change, you can get terrarium plants instead. Aside from the great aesthetics, cats won’t be able to get inside the terrariums.

9 – Use a Spray Bottle

If you have a determined kitty and all else fails, a spray bottle may be enough to keep your cats away if they’re trained. Have a spray bottle of water nearby, and give your cats a spritz when they get near your plants.

You can find low-cost spray bottles online or at a local hardware store.

While simple, this technique is temporary and only works if you have eyes on your plants the entire time, which is impractical.

Some cats may stop going near the plants after a while of getting sprayed, but others will just get sneakier and make mischief when you aren’t home.

Though some people view this behavior as inappropriate, it may be worth giving it a shot to see how your cat reacts.

Watch for Toxic Plants

Until you are 100% positive your cats aren’t going to chew on your plants, you should be very cautious about toxicity. 

Several common houseplants are toxic to cats, and you should be aware of the associated risks.

Here are some plants to watch out for:

  • Aloe vera
  • Begonia
  • English ivy
  • Dumbcane
  • Jade plant
  • Lilies
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coleus
  • Pothos
  • Pointsettia
  • Tomato

These plants are only poisonous if chewed, so if your cat only digs into the soil or knocks the plant over, there’s no reason to worry.

However, I’m always against taking risks, so I’d advise against keeping these plants in a house that has a cat.

Share this post:


Thursday 27th of August 2020

Hi! Great ideas, just wanted to comment: every part of a lily, even the pollen is EXTREMELY toxic to cats, so even if your cats aren't prone to chewing on plants you should avoid having lilies in your house, as if they get some fallen pollen on their coat or paws and then lick it up it can still be enough to cause kidney failure.

Christina J Green

Saturday 19th of November 2022

@Amy, hi my name is Chris. I am writing to the woman that has Lucy-fur and I guess your referring her as Lucifer lol and Satan's spawn. I am not an expert but I am old and disabled and just not playing with my precious plants. My plants and succulents are not store bought. They are imported from Malaysia and Brazil. I will not play with a cat getting sick either. Since the end of time we have been rescuing these babies and fixing them and most the time getting to attached and just keeping them. I have 8 right now. 15 years and down. The four youngest especially the two 3 months old who were rescued share their two huge cat trees with my plants in a window. They have tons of ropes and feathers as enrichment but was bothering my huge shelf and a stand for succulents in my east window. My famous answer is just like I do in my flower gardens. I just put pretty lava rocks on susceptible plants and to keep them from stretching out on the same stand in the sun instead of on their huge plants stands, mothballs!!! I put them on the lava rocks on top of soil and just pluck the 3 or 4 I put on top of rocks before watering and throw them back on. I sprinkle them around the stand until they leave it alone. I have a big standing jade. It was so fun for them when I brought it in for winter. I actually put some around it's rocks and tapred some with light tape around its stem. I have also found lemon moth balls if the smell bothers you till you train them. I am sorry I am in rush so I hope you get this and can figure out my quick message. But be careful if you have any little ones around. You would not want a child smelling them or eating them. My plants are in rooms I am not in all the time but it works. You have to get the upper hand.


Sunday 26th of April 2020

This article is frustrating. I came in hoping to find something that would help us get the plants we want and keep Lucy-fur and Satans-spawn from eating the plants. Satans-spawn is an older male. He will literally eat any plant. We had aloe when we lived with my sister who had cancer at the time. The aloe was good for her inside and out. He was having seizures. We had to get rid of the plant. We had a venus fly trap. Yeah that was a yummy snack too. There was the cactus, cabbage, other veg., a rare botanical palm that was brunch and dinner instead of a christmas youngest is allergic to evergreen...Hes insane. We had a bathroom bumper rod where there was NOTHING he could get on to get high enough and placed it in a of no use to us doorway that we could hang water and care for the plants without him having access. That didnt work. He somehow got up there and sumo-ed the rod until it fell so he could eat the plants. We got rid of the plants to stop him and keep him from having seizures. (sigh).

Now 5 years later we also (big boi is 11 now) have a kitten who weve started training (shes 8 months) to listen to the OW when she punctures your skin with her talons. Yes we keep them trimmed but she likes sharpening them multiple times a day. We noticed that she likes turning our T.P. into confetti. At this point with the health issues surrounding us and shortages on much needed items ... turning the T.P. into anything but wipe yourself clean stuff isnt kosher. So we used the aluminium we have as part of the avoidance regime...she ate the foil and played with everything wrapped up or covered in it. (sigh). We are also trying to work with her on other things. Satans-spawn has taught himself how to alert me (Think ESA) to my youngest who has a rare condition that is dangerous. And weve noticed that when kiddos issues crop up Lucy-fur acts the same way about it. She also warns me of trigger moments when Im about to have a bad turn. Im disabled from a medical accident in kiddos birth and its the same instance kiddos issues crop up from.

Lucy-Fur like Satans-spawn will eat any food I ingest. I had to spent a month convincing him grapes are a NO NO! She didnt care and bolted one down. We dont get grapes anymore either. Point is I could keep going like this explaining how completely insane my demon kin are. It would be a novella by time Im done. Its almost that now. I have (swear on my soul honesty here) tried everything. EVERYTHING. It kills me that the ONLY thing that freaks them both out (she picked it up from him) is picking up a plastic pop bottle. We reuse to I constantly have one near me for liquid. We dont throw them. We dont threaten them. We dont make any power play moves on them with the bottles or anything else. OK I lie we yell "hey" or "knock it off" when they are pissing each other off and then put them both in time out for a few minutes..cause you know ...cats...

Satans-spawn and Lucy-fur are not their names. Its what we call them to other people online because Im analretentive enough to worry about safety. Their names are rare cause I roll like that. I found something rarely used. They are trained/in training to act as ESA for the kiddo mostly. They will do this for me as well but its only a few times a month as to where kiddo is almost daily...when they alert me I can help her halt an attack/episode. The plants we want are herbs and flowering types etc to indoor gardening for veg... because Im finding out that Im allergic to almost everything you can buy in the store for seasoning, tea, again I could keep going. If Im breathing I could break out into an allergic reaction...long story. This is getting kind of really necessity for us. it helped kiddo when we had one at our old home. It would be nice to do so again. I just dont want to risk the cats. Oh and spraying a natural water based concoction of vinegar or citrus doesnt work they lap that up. (sigh)

I would love to say "Ideas?" but by this point its only a rant and I have no clue if there is any help or hope. Ive written to experts all over the states about them asking for advice and its all been ignored. Hope youve had a decent weekend.


Thursday 18th of August 2022

@Lisa, My kitten does all kinds of things he knows he isn't supposed to just to get my attention.Just tonight he chewed 2 of the big fronds off of my palm tree!I read about sprinkling cayenne pepper in the pots around your plants & it worked. Made him sneeze & he's stayed away every since. If you try it,use a mask for yourself. It made me sneeze too.

Dwayne Phillips

Monday 8th of June 2020

I'm not sure if you have found a solution but I use compressed gas for my cats. You can get the air dusters pretty much anywhere. You just need to pray it near them as sometimes the accelerant can come out too and it's not real good for them. Its loud and scared the crap out of my cats.

Lisa | The Practical Planter

Thursday 30th of April 2020

Hi, Lisa!

It definitely sounds like you have your hands full. Cats can be pretty difficult, and unfortunately, you seem to have gotten the ones that nothing works for! Someone commented previously about using contact paper for shelves with the sticky side up since cats don’t like things on their paws. There is also a product called SSSCAT by PetSafe that sprays when it detects motion. People in the reviews have said you can use canned air, so you might want to give that a try too. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help! I know how frustrating it can be. Good luck!


Thursday 19th of March 2020

Try using contact paper (shelf liner) on your surfaces where you keep plants, but put it on upside down so the sticky side is up. It’s cheaper than the sticky pads and strips that are marketed as cat deterrent and you can get it in clear, so it shouldn’t look horrid. Should be sticky enough to be a discomfort but not so sticky that kitty gets stuck or disrupts the whole shelf and goes tearing about with a long cape of contact paper trailing behind them. Hopefully kitty will realize that the tables around all of the plans have mysteriously turned sticky and will steer clear.

Lisa | The Practical Planter

Saturday 21st of March 2020

Hi, Meg!

Great advice!! Thanks for commenting!

Kelly K

Sunday 1st of March 2020

My cats have a special penchant for my medium sized jade plant... it has been knocked over so many times it has gone from a beautiful plant to a series of woody sticks with some leaves. I have had this plant for 6 years, and they seem to hate it, and take all of their cattiness on it. I've tried everything aside from throwing the cats out.

Lisa | The Practical Planter

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

Hi, Kelly!

Cats can be such a pain! I hope you can find a way to keep both the cats and the jade :)

Ted Tribble

Sunday 5th of January 2020

Tin foil doesn't work. My cats were all over and under it. I have a pretty funny video of them caring less about the foil.

Lisa | The Practical Planter

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Hi, Ted!

To be honest, my cat doesn’t really care about foil either! I’ve tried a couple times, and they either become toys or something to chew on haha. I bet your video is great! Double-sided tape might be a better option for us!