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.
But 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.
One 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.
The 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
- 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?