Cats are adorable. Plants are adorable. But for some reason, despite both their ancestors living in perfect harmony for millions of years, common house cats consider common house plants to be their worst enemies.
Chances are, house cats do not know that plants are plants. All they see is something dangling in front of them, daring them to snatch it up. This means that cats, as always, cannot be bought, bargained, or reasoned with. But if you want to keep your furry babies from destroying your green babies, what do you do?
There are two answers to this question. The first is a primary method while the second is a secondary method. Primary methods are methods involving the plants themselves, while secondary methods involve the environment around the plants. You will likely need both to keep your plants safe.
The Primary Method: Cinnamon
Cinnamon is actually a pretty common method of dealing with invasive pests messing with plants. It is good for dealing with insects and other bugs that use their sense of smell as their primary method of navigation. But it can be used to dissuade pets as well as pests due to cats’ amplified sense of smell.
Cats do not navigate by a sense of smell like flies or gnats, but their sense of smell is more nuanced and powerful than a fly’s or gnat’s. It is more similar to a human’s (flies and gnats “sense of smell” is only described as such due to smell being the most similar sense to it), just more powerful.
Imagine trying to get into your car, but your car seat is covered in cinnamon. That is the experience you try to create for your cat around your plants. And luckily, cinnamon has no ill effects on plants, so you can use it a lot.
Here is what you do: Start by mixing some cinnamon with some dish soap. This will create a kind of spicy gel, which you can place at the top edge and bottom edge of your houseplant’s pot. This will keep cats from pawing at the sides of the plant’s pot, as well as keep them from trying to move the plants by the bottom of the pot.
The mixture of dish soap to cinnamon should be three parts cinnamon and one part dish soap. The goal is to get the cinnamon to stick to the edges of the pot while still keeping the cinnamon the dominant scent.
Once you have done that, sprinkle some raw cinnamon on the dirt of your plants. This will not have any negative impact on the plants, and it will probably scare off any parasites that are currently living in the plants. The soil and the plants will eventually consume the cinnamon, so be sure to replace it every two weeks or so.
With all of that done, your plants will be too spicy for your cat or cats to have any interest left in the plants. They might examine the plant to see what happened to it and seek out an explanation for the change in scent. But they will not bite, and they are unlikely to paw at the plant when the scent is that strong.
The Secondary Method: The Area Around The Plant
Another great method for keeping cats out of houseplants is by making it physically difficult for them to do so. This can come in a variety of different ways though, as what a person thinks is difficult for a cat is not always as difficult as you might expect. Essentially, this is attempting to solve the problem with engineering.
But solving a problem with engineering does not always mean using complex math and detailed schematics to build a solution to a problem. Consider this: Once there was a high-rise apartment building in New York City. It had a long elevator ride to get down to the bottom or up to the top. Residents were upset by how long this took.
Residents living at the top of the building in particular hated waiting for the elevator when they got home from work. They would end up standing it the lobby while the elevator slowly descended down to them. The apartment building hired a group of engineers to solve the problem. What do you think their solution was?
Did they speed up the elevators? Add another bank of elevators? What did they do? None of these things. They added a full-body mirror to the wall nearby the existing elevators. This is because the problem was not that the elevators were too slow, but that the people were impatient and had nothing to do.
Thus, solving a problem with engineering means identifying the underlying problems to things. Imagine you have your plants in an expensive vase on a kitchen counter. They are going to knock that vase over while playing with the plant. They are not even going to know this is something they should not do.
What is the solution? Do you nail the vase to the counter? Do you weigh it down? You could. Or you could put a scratching post beside the counter. This will be far more interesting to the cat than the vase. Because the problem is not that the vase is insecure, but rather that the cat wants to knock it over.
Simply give the cat something better to do.
Are Any Plants Dangerous For Cats?
There are many plants that are dangerous for cats, but most of them are hardly used in the household, and luckily most cats know what is dangerous for them to eat. Plants like lilies and rhododendrons are the most common plants that can be toxic to cats, but it will not kill them instantly, they will probably just throw them up.
All the same, take note of whether your cat is overly curious about your plants. Whether the plants are outwardly toxic or not, cats should be getting their nutrition from elsewhere. This is why the cinnamon method is effective: Cats’ sense of smell disallows them from developing a taste for cinnamon.