10 Game-Changing Tips for Living with Plants and Cats
Cats and plants: A love/hate relationship. I see it all over Instagram – adorable cat sitting next to a smashed plant and planter, or sitting next to a completely chewed-up, sad, leafless plant. Seeing these things makes me feel good – they remind me that I’m not the only crazy person out there trying to have a jungle in her house while also having cats. I have three rescue cats and I have probably about 100 house plants. Recipe for disaster, amiright? Well, over the years I’ve developed some strategies for helping to keep my cats safe and out of my plants, and my plants safe and out of my cats (especially considering some house plants can be poisonous to cats). I’ve learned which plants my cats will attempt to devour no matter what, and which ones they really don’t care for. Plus, I reached out to some of my fave fellow instagram plant cat ladies (Margo Hupert from @margo.hupert.art, Kara Evans from @kara_evans, Erica McCreadie from @thenakedflora, Sharlene Kayne from @skaynedesigns, Carley Summers from @carlaypage, and Chelsae Anne from @chelsaeanne, and Erin Francois from @francoisetmoiblog (P.S., if you aren’t already following these amazing ladies, you should be. All of them have such amazing spaces and feeds!)
First – what I’ve learned overall is that all cats are different. My cats love to munch on plants, love to use large planters as a litter box, and generally are extremely curious about plants! They also love to treat my little cactus babies like toys by batting them around the house. Erica’s cats aren’t really interested in her cacti (smart kitties, since cacti are prickly!), but they love snapdragons and leafier plants like ferns and the heart-leaf philodendron. Another cat favorite is the spider plant -and you can probably guess why. Who wouldn’t want to swat at those little hanging baby spider plants? Kara’s cat, Capone (pictured below basking under the palm), loves sniffing the spider plant on watering day and Sharlene’s cats love batting at the little hanging baby spider plants! My cats LOVE palms and palm-like plants and so do Margo’s cats, but Sharlene’s aren’t really that interested in palms at all. My cats’ absolute favorite is the ponytail palm — I had to take that to my office because that is the ONE plant they wouldn’t leave alone no matter what. Sharlene’s can’t have button ferns anymore because her cats loved it too much! Finally, my cats don’t care about Figaro (my fiddleleaf fig — yes, it has a name), but Chelsae said her cat loves to swat at it!
1. Mount plants on the wall, out of reach of your cats. Erica and I both have a few of these gold wall-mount terrarium planters:
2. Hang plants from the ceiling or wall, out of reach of your cats (even if its not out of reach, hanging the plant cant at least help to keep it from getting completely knocked over and broken)!
3. Keep plants on plant stands or in taller planters – the less they can reach, the better! Or, get plants (such as a bird of paradise) or trees (such as a fiddleleaf fig) that don’t really have any leaves near the bottom to entice your kitty.
4. If your cats try to use the dirt in the planter as a litter b0x (which mine DEFINITELY used to do), try putting small river rocks, stones, or pine cones on top of the soil. This worked for me! You can also use tin foil in a pinch.
5. Diversion! Whenever one of Chelsae’s cats starts playing with her plants, she finds one of their cat toys to divert their attention. A great way to use positive reinforcement!
6. Give your cats their own plant! Cat grass, lemon grass, catnip and several other plants are available at pet stores and online specifically for you cats’ enjoyment! My cats absolutely love it – I keep these cat grass seeds handy and always have some growing for them. Chelsae’s cats aren’t interested in the cat grass at all, though!
7. Erica suggests mixing organic orange peels and organic coffee grounds and sprinkling it around the plants on top of the soil to deter your cats. Use organic though, to keep your plants and cats extra safe! Bonus – the coffee grounds and orange peels are great natural fertilizer! (Check out her blog for tons of tips on vegan / organic living!)
8. If your cats are constantly munching on leaves, you can spray the leaves with a mixture of hot sauce and water, bitter apple spray, or this special cat deterrent spray. I’d test out a small area of the plant first, but it should be totally harmless to the plant (and not delicious to your cat).
10. If your cats just can’t seem to stay away from certain plants, and there isn’t really a way to keep those plants out of reach, move those plants to a bathroom or guestroom and keep the door of that room closed. Or, take it to work (that’s what I had to do with my ponytail palm).
Overall, it really depends on your cat. Cats are curious – and you you don’t want your plants or cats to get hurt. Pay close attention when you get a new plant or cat and do your research to avoid toxic plants (or to make sure they are totally out of reach from your cat).
Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments below!