Don’t Pee in My Pot! What to Do When Cats Use Your Pots as a Litter Box

Pine cone mulch

Pine cone mulch with a few sweet gum balls for good measure protecting pot’s dirt from cats

Cats love to dig in the dirt, at least mine do.  Bringing in a huge pot full of dirt inside the house was just too inviting.  Not living in a tropical area, we bring some plants indoors during the winter. One is an avocado plant my husband started from seed last spring. It has really grown. Things were fine for a while.

We have 3 cats. The older 2 know to leave my plants alone. Not so with the youngest, once an abandoned kitten adopted by our male cat. Her name officially is Wampus but she often goes by “Pest” or “kitten”. If you ever wanted a cat that would sit on your lap and purr all day, this is the one.

WampusBut she won’t sit in my lap. I’m the evil enforcer, the lady who put her in a carrier, no food overnight, then to the vet to get fixed. I’m on her list of scary people to avoid. Little boys about 3-8 years old are worse, she freaks out. We believe she’d been abused in a previous home.

One day I saw potting soil in my hallway, where I’d parked 3 pots with ginger rhyzomes till they sprout. A dent in the dirt. Yep it was her. I caught her trying it again.  Chased her out, but that didn’t stop her from digging when my back was turned.  Her favorite was the avocado tree, even when we put it back outside on the warm sunny days.

brown avocado leavesOne issue is, if she is peeing in my pots, that is too much concentrated nitrogen in a small area.  Our avocado plant has some of its leaves looking redish brown.  Whether this is caused by cat urine or not, we don’t know.  But we quickly put an end to her plan, simply putting grocery bags around the base of our tree.  Place them over the ginger starts too.  (Not sprouted at the time.)  Wampus was not a happy camper.

A bigger deterant was when our older female cat, Tiger Lily, who loves to lay on plastic bags decided the avocado plant’s bags made a great place for her to sleep.  She hates Wampus and growls at her every time she gets near.  She is still mad at her brother for adopting the abandoned kitten.

plasticbagsThe plastic bag solution was only temporary for my ginger. Last night she pulled the bags out of one container and dug another hole.   Plastic grocery bags aren’t pretty and plants need mulch.

Some have suggested pine needles, but I’ve seen our male cat use the pine needles outside too often to believe that will keep them out of my pots.  I used  mainly pine cones with a few spikey sweet gum balls thrown in for good measure.  If a few pine needles tagged along, that was fine.

All the cats stay out of it now.  Each cat is different, what works for one, may or may not work for another.  Here is a list of things which may help you keep the cats out of your dirt:

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Potted Plants

  • Citrus Peels or anything with a citrus smell
  • Marbles, rocks, aquarium gravel, lava rock
  • Seashells
  • Pine cones – My favorite, plenty in my back yard and neighboring field, looks nice, no cost
  • Sweet gum balls (you could add citrus essential oil to these  but I don’t think it’d be necessary) I wouldn’t want to dig around or sit on these.  None in my backyard, but added the few I had to the pine cones.
  • Landscaping fabric or screen, netting from vegetable bag such as from onions
  • Crumbled tinfoil or cellophane  paper

Basically anything which you have readily available when the cats don’t like.  If it looks good, all the better. What has worked for you in keeping cats out of your house plants?


Comments

Don’t Pee in My Pot! What to Do When Cats Use Your Pots as a Litter Box — 11 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize that this was what my cat was doing. OMG….. She did this to my aloe plant as well. It died, but thank god I googled it this time. Gonna try the pine cones now. Does it matter if they are scented??

    • Can you use pine cones that smell of cinnamon. My daughter found a small kitten stuck in the gutter and brought it home and wants to use my potted plant for his liter box.

  2. I sprinkle red pepper powder on top of the soil surrounding the plants. Trust me after our cat Dragon had a sniff she wanted no part of the large planters! The vet was the one that gave me the idea of red pepper.

  3. I recently air-layered a large house plant and one of my cats has peed in it. Is there a way to neutralize the cat pee or must I re-pot the plane ?

  4. My cat is using my outside plants to urinate and deficate..she is destroying all of my potted large outdoor plants..I am going to find some pine cones and gum balls today..she/ taylor is her name was a gift from late friend Donna Douglas/ Elly mae Klampettt..I have had her for 8 years..She destroys all my plants..i think that she feels that all of my husband and my attention should be only directly to her..thanks for the tip..I sure hope it works.

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