How To Keep Your Cat Away From Your Indoor Garden - Backyard Boss
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How To Keep Your Cat Away From Your Indoor Garden

Are you struggling to keep your indoor houseplants safe from your mischievous cat? Cat lovers everywhere understand that we have to make sacrifices to keep our furry friends happy and healthy, but you don’t need to abandon your love of indoor gardening. With a few minor tweaks and changes, you can have your dream indoor garden space.

As a gardener and cat mom myself, this was a struggle that I had to navigate firsthand. While my older cat Pippen was content to ignore my favorite plants as long as they were placed up and away from her usual hangout spots, our younger cat Jinx wasn’t quite as easy. In this guide, I share my go-to solutions to keep your cat away from your indoor garden. Each of these tips comes from firsthand experience (and success) in our own home.

You may not need every step in this guide, but working through them will help determine which solution(s) will work for you and your cat.

What You Need

  • Houseplants in Durable Pots
  • Stone Mulch with Smaller Rocks and Stones
  • Interactive and Engaging Cat Toys
  • Cat Grass Seeds
  • Potting Soil
  • Spray Bottle
  • Small Pot or Tray
  • Orange or Lemon Peels
  • Aluminum Foil

A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Keep Your Cat Away From Your Indoor Plants

Step One – Add Stone Mulch to Your Indoor Plants

calico cat sitting on a shelf next to houseplant
Image Credit: user32212 on Pixabay

The first step you can take to prevent your cat from getting into your houseplants is to top the potting soil off with a layer of stone mulch. It works by creating a barrier that discourages your cat from giving in to its instinct and digging into the soil, creating a mess in your home.

While the stone mulch won’t prevent your cat from digging, it does remove the temptation for most cats. Pet owners that are dealing with a stubborn cat that is choosing this behavior as a means of getting attention will likely find that this one swap simply isn’t enough to curb the bad behavior. That being said, it is a quick and easy solution in many cases.

Step Two – Place Your Indoor Plants Out of Reach

grey cat sitting on window ledge with houseplant
Image Credit: kseniaiweiwei on Canva

If you share your home with a cat that is determined to explore your potted plants, it may be time to consider how you can make the vertical space in your homework to your advantage. What does this mean? You can install high enough wall shelves so your cat won’t access the plants you have on display, protecting them from unwelcome visitors.

It is a great choice for any toxic plants you hold after welcoming a cat into your space. Take note of any taller furniture or items that may serve as a stepping stone for your cat, helping them access these spaces.

Step Three – Choose Cat-Friendly Indoor Plants

grey and white kitten standing in a houseplant
Image Credit: Alice Feigel on Unsplash

As cat lovers, we want the best for our furry friends. However, you may not be aware that many common houseplants are toxic to your cat or harm his overall health and well-being. If you are looking to share your home with a cat and a variety of houseplants, you want to ensure that you are familiar with which plants are poisonous or toxic to cats.

Cat, in general, have a natural curiosity that will lead them to check out any plant that you choose to bring into your home. It includes ‘exploring’ your new plant by tasting its stems and leaves. It can lead to serious health complications and even prove fatal if you aren’t careful to stick to cat-proof houseplants. The safest choice is to assume that your cat will have access at one time or another and restrict your houseplants to those that are safe for your feline friends.

Step Four – Focus on the Litterbox and Surrounding Area

grey cat eating indoor houseplant
Image Credit: Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Did you know that your cat may be encouraged to ‘explore’ or dig in your houseplants due to the location of their litter box, its condition, or the type of litter being used? Cats are surprisingly selective when it comes to their litter boxes and what they deem to be appropriate. Encouraging your cat to leave your indoor plants alone could be as easy as moving the litter box to a quieter location or changing the litter you are using.

Keep in mind, in the wild cats have many places that he could go to the bathroom depending on their mood. However, indoor life limits them to one area. For this reason, we need to do what we can to make this space as comfortable and well-suited for their needs as possible.

Step Five – Provide Entertainment for Your Cats

silver tabby cat sitting in house plant
Image Credit: kseniaiweiwei on Canva

In addition to protecting your plants, you should also look at the best ways to keep your cats happy. Why? Many cats will get into mischief simply because they are bored. It means that you may discourage your cat from getting into trouble with your houseplants by providing him with highly engaging toys like treat toys, interactive toys, or toys with feathers. 

Pay attention to which toys your cat is most drawn to and play into his preferences. For example, some cats are completely content with a scratch post, while others prefer a more interactive toy like a laser pointer.

Step Six – Consider Growing Cat Grass

black cat eating cat grass from a yellow pot
Image Credit: dzika_mrowka on Canva

If your cat is a plant lover, you may have better success by offering an alternative for him to enjoy. Contrary to popular belief, chowing down on greens isn’t a bad choice for your cat. A tray of cat grass can provide some great benefits! The introduction of fresh grass into your living space provides your cat with mental enrichment. It also includes some valuable nutrients, including vitamins A and D. Gardeners that enjoy the benefits of indoor gardening for their health and well-being can do the same for their feline friends.

To get started, you can purchase cat grass seeds at most garden stores. Fill your selected pot with potting soil but to approximately 2 inches from the top before scattering seeds across the surface. Cover them with ¼ inch of soil before misting the area with a spray bottle.

Cover the top of your pot with plastic wrap and make some small holes in the covering to provide airflow. Place your cat grass in a windowsill with indirect sunlight and wait approximately 10 to 12 days for your cat grass to sprout and grow. Continue watering your cat grass by misting it to prevent mold around the roots.

Step Seven – Use Deterrents to Discourage Your Cat

white and orange tabby cat next to houseplant knocked over on carpet
Image Credit: pixelshot on Canva

If your cat is obsessed with your houseplants, pet grasses and fun pet toys may not be enough, especially if your feline friend is stubborn and determined. There are a variety of sprays available on the market to discourage your cat from getting into trouble. For cat lovers that prefer to opt for a more natural approach, you can use the citrus smell to deter your cat.

Create a spray by infusing lemon and orange peels in water, spraying your houseplants, pots, and surrounding area. Another easy solution is to place aluminum foil around the base of your houseplants. The sound of aluminum foil crinkling combined with the strange texture makes it uncomfortable for cats, discouraging them from exploring the area.

Enjoy Your Houseplants While Keeping Your Cats Safe

If your cat is getting into your houseplants, the situation could be messy and dangerous for your furry friend. Every circumstance is different, and every cat is different too. For this reason, you may find that one of the steps listed above is all that it takes to create peace and balance in your home. However, some cat owners need to take multiple steps or even all 7 of the suggestions outlined here.

Try to remain patient while working through this guide. The solution likely isn’t going to come to your overnight, and it might take some work. However, when you can embrace your love of gardening, surrounding yourself with healthy, thriving houseplants without worrying about the safety of your cat, it will be worth it!