Those potted poinsettias put the finishing touches on a Christmas theme, and those front porch sunflowers revive the springtime spirit when they start sprouting. However, Fluffy doesn’t appreciate horticulture the same way you do — her version is nibbling on leaves and digging deep holes in the soil. That brings us to the age-old question: how do you keep cats out of flower pots?
To keep cats out of flower pots, use hanging planters, cover the soil with rocks, spritz it with cayenne pepper, or rest the pot on tinfoil. Motion-detecting sprinklers, chicken wire, double-sided tape, and safe repellents can also stop cats from chewing on leaves or using this pot as a litter box.
Cats and flower pots can be a deathly duo and wreak havoc on your once-pristine plants. To learn how to keep cats out of flower pots, read on.
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Block Off Indoor Gardens With Doors or Gates
Soil specks on the floor are easy to sweep with a broom and dustpan. However, those digging urges, “alternative” litter boxes, and wilting plants are far from your greatest worries. An innocent cat exposed to airborne lily pollen can develop AKI (acute kidney injury) or even die in 24-72 hours.
Scattering decorative gravel on the soil’s surface won’t protect Fluffy from a pollen-laden breeze. The best solution for keeping kitties out of flower pots (and away from the debris they release) is by blocking their access entirely. Dedicate a sunny room in your house to an indoor garden, and shut the door behind you, or block off non-toxic plants with a 32″ (81 cm) pet gate at the entryway.
Some plant species can be poisonous or even deadly to our four-legged pals. The Jackson Galaxy video below explains which common flowers can make your cat sick if eaten:
Fill Open Spots With Shells, Rocks, or Pinecones
Nothing attracts cats to flower pots quite like loose soil and “nature’s litter box.” Cull that insatiable feline digging instinct by neatly arranging nature-esque items around the flower’s stem. Cover as much dirt or soil as possible with:
- Decorative gravel
- Medium-sized stones
- Large seashells and conches
- Pinecones (the stickier, the better)
Try to choose decor that’s at least 1″ (2.54 cm) long that won’t resemble litter or typical ground cover. You can purchase all of these suggestions at your local craft store for $10 or less.
Spritz the Leaves With Cayenne Pepper or Lemon
The relationship between felines and cayenne pepper is under constant scrutiny due to animal welfare concerns. However, when applied modestly in your home (and away from wind gusts), it becomes a safer alternative and even a flower protectant.
Start by mixing one part of cayenne pepper with 16 parts of water to dilute the overpowering stench. Spritz it generously on your plant’s leaves and avoid getting droplets on nearby items. When your cat approaches the pot, the overpowering capsaicin aroma will deter her curiosity. The oh-so spicy capsaicin is also an approved insect repellent, so your plants might grow better.
Place the Pot on a Long Tinfoil Sheet
Aluminum or tin foil is to cats what overpowering citrus scents are to dogs — they despite it! Between the unexpectedly loud crinkle and ultra-fine texture, aluminum foil is a cat’s most startling household enemy.
Place your flower pots on a long, flat sheet of tinfoil with an extra 12″ (30.5 cm) or so extending on all four sides. On your kitty’s first leap onto the countertop or table housing your roses, she’ll hear the noise and feel the texture on her toes and jump away. Soon enough, you can remove the foil.
Keep the Pot Out of Reach
If a tabletop flower pot or porch “garden” is too enticing for your curious kitty, the next-best option is making your plants even harder to reach.
Installing ceramic or plastic hanging planters will complicate Fluffy’s next mid-day plant exploration. Ensure the planter is at least 5′ (1.5 m) from the ground and away from furniture that your cat can use as “stepping stones” to reach the pot.
Plant Lavender, Rue, or Pennyroyal
Is your naturally green thumb accepting of new plant species? If so, selecting flowers that felines notoriously despise can provide a no-strings-attached feline deterrent. Think about adding the following flowers to your sunroom garden:
- Scaredy-cat plant
- Lemon thyme or lemon balm
These flowers’ faint aromas can be taxing on a cat’s sensitive olfactory receptors, encouraging her to stay away. Arrange your pots to create a barrier with these natural cat deterrents along the exterior. That way, your cat will second-guess her decision as she pursues your lilies.
Set Up a Motion-Detecting Sprinkler Nearby
Outdoor, yard, and walkway flower pots are a little more challenging to protect because of the elements. One sunshower will undercut the cliche cayenne pepper aroma that cats despise, and windy conditions can leave your gravel cover strewn about your yard and soil naked.
A motion-detecting sprinkler placed within 40′ (12.2 m) of your outdoor plants is the best solution. As your kitty casually approaches her favorite pot, the sprinkler’s sensor will spritz two cups of water, leaving unsuspecting cats running. These sprinklers boast a 120° viewing angle, so prop your plants against the house or shed, and position the sprinkler directly in front and facing out.
Install a Pot Grid (or Chicken Wire) in Each Pot
Cats dig through flower pots for the same reason they nudge items off the mantle or lick your cereal bowl clean — because they can. One of the surefire ways to defy that digging instinct is by making the soil utterly inaccessible with a pot grid or cut chicken wire.
Carefully weave the pot grid (or chicken wire) around your plant’s stem and jam the 4-8 stakes through the grid to lock its position in the pot. Proceed with caution if you’re using manually-cut chicken wire. Metal chicken wire tends to have dangerously jagged edges and might have large enough holes to trap your kitty’s paw. Choose fine-mesh netting and tape the perimeter.
Spray a Pet-Safe Cat Repellent on the Leaves
There are hundreds of homemade cat repellent recipes that’ll keep your cat at arm’s length. However, if you’re hesitant to mix these potions out of fear of creating a toxic concoction, there are premade and all-natural cat repellants designed to be safe for our four-legged pals. Generously spritz your pots, leaves, and flowers with the spray and reapply weekly.
Of course, you can also DIY your cat repellent if you have essential oils and a spray bottle on-hand. These oils can dissuade cats from digging or gnawing without an injury risk:
- Wild orange
Make sure you dilute these essential oils appropriately with water.
Stick Double-Sided Tape Around the Pot Rim
Similar to how cats and tin foil don’t mesh, felines also dislike unusually sticky surfaces. Double-sided tape will stick to your kitty’s paws and trigger severe discomfort. Adhere double-sided tape to the pot’s rim and lie a 12″ (30.5 cm) square tape barrier on the table. That way, a curious cat won’t even get close enough to nibble on a leaf or weed.
Convincing a cat to steer clear of the daffodils can be challenging, costly, and time-consuming, but complete freedom to roam in a plant lover’s oasis can be deadly. If your cat nibbled on an unknown plant, monitor for the following poisoning symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy or lack of activity
- Increased urination
Hide or cover those flowers to protect your cat!
- FDA: Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination
- VCA Hospitals: Acute Kidney Failure in Cats
- ASPCA: Poisonous Plants
- Wikipedia: Capsaicin
- WikiHow: How to Make Homemade Cat Repellent
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.