cat with paw beside a plant about to knock it over

The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Cats Away From Houseplants: 16 Methods

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I love my cats, but I don’t want them to ruin my houseplants. Plants are great for your home and for the environment, but keeping cats away from them can be a real pain. Most cat repellents don’t work as well as you’d hope or have unpleasant side effects like spraying chemicals.

There is a better way! With this guide you’ll learn how to keep cats away from houseplants without using any harmful chemicals or sprays.

This article will show you how to protect your indoor plants from cat attacks using simple methods and items around your house. 

Here are 16 surefire ways to keep your kitties from destroying your indoor jungle.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Use Scents that Cats Detest 

There are certain smells that cats absolutely hate and will likely avoid getting close to.  

1. Citrus

One natural smell that cats loathe is citrus. 

Try placing orange or lemon peels around the top of your pots to deter your felines from getting too close. You can also sprinkle the inside of your potted plants with orange, apple, or grapefruit rinds to keep them away. 

Expert tip

Avoid using essential oils as these are toxic to cats!

2. Coffee Grounds, Sawdust, and Pine Needles

Cats also dislike the smell of coffee grounds. You can place used coffee grounds around the base of your plants to keep cats at bay.

Pine needles are another great option as they offer a natural look in decoration and will often deter cats from digging up your plants.

If you have an  outdoor compost, try sprinkling some sawdust around the base of your pots to keep cats away. 

3. Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub is a great natural repellent made from camphor and eucalyptus oils. In fact, this is an old trick my grandmother swore by to keep cats away from her potted plants.

Smear a layer of the ointment around the top of your pot and around the base.

This will keep your cats from jumping in and digging up the dirt. 

4. Peppermint Oil

Another natural repellent is peppermint oil.

Cats are very sensitive to this scent, so rubbing a little on your potted plants should be more than enough to deal with your problem!

5. Cat Repellent Sprays

If you don’t want to go the natural way, there are more conventional ways of repelling your cats.

My favorite is the Green Gobbler cleaning spray which also deters cats!

It’s a 2-for-1 product that you can use to clean your house and the orange-coconut scent that it leaves behind is unappealing to cats. 

If you already have a favorite household cleaner, just wipe down the outsides of your plant pots and your cats will stay clear. 

Avoid Cayenne, Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes and Cinnamon

Cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cinnamon oil are all toxic to cats! So it’s better off avoiding these if you want to keep your kitties around for longer.

If your cat happens to not be bothered by these spices and walks on top of it, this can cause damage to their eyes if they rub them with their paws.  

Place Objects Cats Detest Inside Pots

There are several ways to cat-proof your plants and stop your cats from digging in your pots and constantly making a mess. 

Anything that makes a crunchy sound, cats will avoid at all costs. Try placing a few of these around the base and see how they react.

6. Aluminum Foil

Cats hate the reflection and the texture from aluminum foil. You can try two methods: 

Place a thin layer of aluminum around the top of your pots 

Crumple up balls of aluminum foil and place several balls on top of the soil

7. Pinecones

Cats hate the rough texture of pinecones, so placing a couple on top of the soil can serve as an added deterrent. 

First, spray pinecone with water to remove any debris and then place inside the pot. 

8. Plastic Forks

Stick several plastic forks with the prong side up into the soil.  This is one of the best methods to stop your cats from digging in your plants. 

9. Plastic Easter Eggs

Another option is to line the inside of your plant pot with plastic eggs.

Simply poke a hole in the top center and place several on the soil. This will not only keep cats away, but also allows for easy watering due to the holes. 

10. Use LECA (Clay Pebbles)

If you’re sick of your cats digging in the soil or always making a mess, moving your plants to a semi-hydroponic system could be the perfect solution. 

Repot your plants into a pot with LECA clay pebbles which are not as enticing to cats due to the lack of soil.

If the cats do end up knocking over your plants, there’s WAY less mess to clean up – only a few pebbles instead of dirt that gets everywhere. 

Read more in this in-depth guide to growing plants in LECA. 

Block Entry to Pots

If you need to take more serious measures to keeping your cats away from your plants (including how to stop them from pooping in them), you’ll need to completely block off access to the soil.  

11. Use Plant Saucers

Cat-proof your plants by using clear plant saucers. Cut a hole in the middle to go around the trunk or base of your plant and place it upside-down covering the entire soil base.  

I like these plastic saucers because they come in several different sizes – from 6″ to 15.” 

12. Press’n Seal Plastic Wrap

Another barrier method is to Press’n Seal plastic wrap over your plant pots.

It’s a little easier to work with, and clear so that the light still get through.

If you wrap it tight enough, you can poke a hole or two and be able to water your plant without removing the wrap.  

13. Use Burner Covers

Another solution is to use range burner covers. Use the foil cover liners which are made have openings on the sides so that you can easily water your plants.

Plus, the fact that they’re foil (and shiny) also discourages cats from coming too close. 

Place Your Plants in Unappealing Locations

If you don’t want to use barriers or specific scents to stop your cats from being interested in your indoor plants, you can try to place them in strategic locations around your home that your cat won’t be interested in.   

14. Use Con-Tact Paper 

Use protective shelf-liner (Con-Tact brand is the best).

If you use it upside-down so that the stickier part faces up, cats don’t like the texture and will try to avoid these surfaces for that reason alone.

This is much cheaper than the sticky pads marketed specifically to deter cats.  Use the sticky side up and can cut pieces to size and change them out as needed.  

Added bonus – this product is clear to it’s virtually unnoticeable. 

15. Use Hanging Planters

Hanging planters can put a level of difficulty in getting to the soil. Plus, you can place them higher than eye level so that they’re not as interesting.   

Not only will this keep your plants safe from pet destruction, but it can also add a unique design element to any room of your house. 

Use Cat Deterrent Plants

cacti lined up in different terracotta pots

If you want to keep your cats away from your plants, there are several “scaredy-cat” varieties of common houseplants that you can choose.

For example, cats tend to stay away from Cacti and also hate the scent that Lavender and Eucalyptus plants give off.

Strategically places these plants close to the ones you want them to avoid and they should stay clear. 

Give Your Cats Their Own Plants

To stop your cat from chewing on your plants, put plants that they can chew on near their water dishes. 

16. Cat Grass (Cyperus Zumula)

You can also consider planting cat grass in your home – it’s essentially an easy house plant that is soft and the texture looks like real grass.  

It’s also a great way to keep your cat busy for hours, so that they won’t have the energy or desire to play with your other plants. You will have to monitor the amount of cat grass your fur-baby eats, as too much can give them an upset stomach. 

You Might Have to Try a Little Bit of Everything!

Cats are notorious for wanting to chew on any and everything. Finding a way to discourage them from going after your indoor plants can be difficult, but not impossible.

There are many methods that you could try, such as using protective shelf-liner, use Vicks Rub (my favorite method), or planting cat grass in your home.

With some strategic placement of deterrents, it may take a little extra effort at first but eventually your plant will stay safe because the cats will stay away.

Stay Green!

1 thought on “The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Cats Away From Houseplants: 16 Methods”

  1. Not all cats hate citrus. Mine absolutely loves oranges and wont let me eat one without sharing with her. She is kinda weird like that.

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