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House plants are a great way to beautify your home and add some life to your rooms. But if you happen to have a cat or two, like me, you might just be setting yourself up for a problem if you introduce house plants into the mix. Cats are attracted to houseplants for several reasons, and because of their nature, they are not always willing to peacefully coexist with houseplants.

Picture dirt on the floor, overturned plants, and general chaos when a houseplant meets a kitty cat. All hope is not lost, however, if you take a few simple precautions.

There are two strategies to keep cats away from plants. The first technique is to add offensive substances to your current plants, or plant herbs that cats do not like. The second strategy is to put structural barriers in place so cats cannot get to the plants.

If you think carefully about how you set up your space and what plants you choose to bring into your home, you should be able to eliminate most of your cat problems without a lot of hassles. Read on to understand exactly how to make your plants unattractive to your furry feline friends, so that you can enjoy both simultaneously.

how to keep cats away from plants - close-up picture of cat

This is Smokey. Doesn’t like pictures

How Can I Keep My Cats Away From My Plants?

In order to effectively keep cats away from indoor plants, you either need to place or plant something obnoxious near your plants, so that the cats will steer clear of the plants, or you need to make it architecturally impossible for your cats to reach your plants. Both strategies will work, but it is up to you to choose which strategy works best in your particular situation.

Scent and Taste Strategies

Cats love to play, and they are very intelligent. Because they are in tune with their senses, there are several scent and taste strategies you can employ to keep the cats where you want them.

  1. Distract Your Cats: Grow plants that cats naturally dislike. Many herbs have strong smells that keep cats away. Use rosemary, lemon thyme, or lavender to deter cats. And planting herbs comes with a definite bonus: you can enjoy the herbs in your home and your cooking. Additionally, plant things like cacti or roses, as cats will not go near them more than once because of the thorns.
  2. Distasteful Smells Near Plants: Your cats will stay away. For instance, sprinkling cayenne pepper near the plants is a natural deterrent, as cats do not like that odor. Cats also despise the fragrance of citrus, so put peels of lemons or oranges in the pots of your plants, or spray the leaves of the plants themselves directly with citrus oil. Finally, put coffee grinds on the dirt of your flower pots, as cats do not like the pungent odor. These tactics will keep your friendly felines from ruining your plants.
  3. Offer Other Plants: Another tactic is to distract cats from the plants you don’t want them to mess with, by offering them plants that they do like. Cultivate plants that cats love in another area of the house to keep your felines occupied. They call it catnip for a reason! If your cats love to play with catnip or lemon balm, put it in an area of the house away from the plants you don’t want them to touch, and everyone will be happy.

Structural Strategies

If you don’t want to worry about planting any additional plants to keep your cats away from your plants, then consider some structural solutions to avoid the cat versus plant debacle.

  1. Enclose your plants in wire shelving units so the cats cannot reach the plants at all. This will protect your plants from being knocked over or being mangled. However, this solution can look unwieldy, and cats that are extra mischievous can still find a way to reach the plants.
  2. Create a specific room for plants that cats are not allowed in. On one hand this is a great idea because you will have all of the oxygen-producing, stress-relieving plants in one place. But on the other hand, this takes the fun out of enjoying plants throughout the house. Depending on how mischievous your particular cat is, this is a deterrent that will keep the two extremes separated.


When deciding how to keep cats away from plants, the decision is entirely up to you. Consider your lifestyle, the reason you want plants in the first place, and other idiosyncratic factors of your home and your felines in order to make your decision. What matters, at the end of the day, is you choose a strategy that you can live with and that will not cause undue stress to you or your furry friend.

how to keep cats away from plants - picture of orange cat

This is Jackson, Gets into Everything

Why Are Cats So Interested In My Plants?

We all know that cats love to play, but what is sometimes cute and playful, can quickly turn annoying if they are knocking over your carefully-tended plants or digging around in the pots of dirt. A cat’s playful side is an attribute when you are in the mood to play, but if you are trying to keep something nice or do something serious, it can be difficult to corral them.

There are two very valid reasons why cats are attracted to plants, and these are reasons why your cats would be messing around with your plants. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, “Cats may chew on plants as part of their normal investigation and play, or they may simply be craving vegetable matter in their diets.”

Cats are interested in plants for the biological reason that they are digestion aids, as fiber helps cats digest, and cats may need some more green plants in their diets. Felines are also known to love to frolic and play, and plants make the perfect imaginative toy as far as cats are concerned.

Digestion Aid

There are several digestion reasons that a cat might be interested in eating a plant. First, eating fibrous plants can help a cat who is constipated, as fiber helps their digestive system work more efficiently. Another reason is that cats need to protect their digestive tract from intestinal parasites and other toxins, and plants are a great way to do this. They crave nutrients, like iron or folic acid, to help them make hemoglobin, this is an important blood protein.


Another reason that cats love plants is that felines are smart creatures and need something to entertain them. If cats do not have an enriched environment or are just plain bored, plants are the perfect plaything.

Cats love to scratch, chew, and play, and as far as they are concerned, plants make the perfect toys. Texture is also important to cats, and if you have a variety of plants in your home, you are offering your cats a variety of textures to enjoy.

In Conclusion

Cats love to play and are interested in everything. With their agile bodies, they are able to jump up and enjoy your plants, though you may not want them to do so. There are two main ways to keep your cats away from your plants.

  1. Use sensory strategies to keep cats away. Plant distasteful herbs or use citrus, pepper, or coffee grounds so cats will avoid your plants.
  2. Use structural strategies to keep your cats away. Put shelving units around your potted plants, or put all of your plants in one room where your cats are not allowed to go.

Cats come by their interest in plants honestly, as they are a digestion aid for indoor cats, and cats just love to play with a variety of objects and textures. If you follow these tips, your cats and your plants will be able to live peacefully together.