Saving A Cat Damaged Plant – Can Chewed On Plants Be Fixed

By: , Certified Urban Agriculturist
Cat's Head In A Potted Houseplant
Image by Irina Kononova

Cats are endlessly curious. They often like to take a “sample” of houseplants, either out of curiosity or because they’re after some greenery. Outdoor cats eat grass and other plants to clear hairballs. Inside cats are similarly directed by instinct to help their tummies… and your houseplants pay the price. Can chewed on plants be fixed?  In most cases, you can salvage your plant and redirect your cat’s interest. 

Almost anyone with a feline friend is familiar with the signs of a cat damaged plant. Often they are just scratching on it, but be careful about a plant eaten by cats. Some plants are toxic to kitties and should be removed from temptation. Cat-chewed leaves will not heal themselves but you can take steps to repair the appearance of your houseplant. 

Can Chewed On Plants Be Fixed? 

A cat damaged plant will likely have torn or shredded leaves. There may also be bite marks if kitty took particular interest in the specimen. None of this damage will just go away. Leaves don’t heal themselves from wounds. Some plants will simply abort damaged leaves and produce fresh ones. Others will live with the damage just fine, but their appearance will be off. If a plant produces new leaves consistently in normal conditions, simply lop off any damage. New leaves will reappear and fill in the foliage. Do not cut off more than 1/3 of plant leaves at a time, as this can affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and thrive. 

Too Late to Save Houseplant From Cats? 

If your plant is small and has been nibbled down to a nub, it may be too late to resurrect the plant. Plants that grow from bulbs, roots, or other underground structures may come back just fine. Provide good care while the plant reestablishes new leaves. It may take months, so be patient. If kitty dug up the plant but it still retains some leaves, repot it and continue watering and feeding as usual. It may come back with little to no permanent injury, provided it wasn’t out of the ground for much time. In cases of extreme harm, you can often take a remaining healthy cutting and root a new plant. 

How to Save Houseplant From Cats?

Preventing cat-chewed leaves is a matter of moving plants out of the feline’s reach. However, cats are notorious climbers and can get fixated on a particular specimen. This is where cayenne pepper spray or bitter apple comes in handy. Make the plant unpalatable to your cat. Spray the leaves once per week and after any dusting or misting. Your pet will not like the taste and will leave the plant alone. To prevent digging, cover the container with packing tape or something similar so the animal can’t get into the dirt and dig up the plant.

It may take a few steps to foil your kitty, but a little effort will keep it safe from toxins and help your plants thrive.  

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