Houseplant Cat Deterrents: Protecting Houseplants From Cats

cat houseplant
cat houseplant
(Image credit: Okssi68)

Houseplants and cats: sometimes the two just don’t mix! Felines are innately curious, which means that protecting houseplants from cats can be a major challenge. Read on for helpful tips on how to protect indoor plants from cats, as well as a list of houseplants cats will leave alone (probably!).

How to Protect Indoor Plants from Cats

Protecting houseplants from cats is largely a matter of trial and error, and the following tips may or may not work for you and your kitty. However, they’re worth a try, and they may just be successful! 

Chunks of citrus peels on the surface of the soil are often effective houseplant cat deterrents. Most cats aren’t crazy about the aroma of citrus. Arrange a few large rocks in pots, with the rough edges facing up. The rocks add interest and actually help keep moisture in the soil, but kitties don’t like the feel of rough stuff on their paws. 

If you don’t have rocks in your yard, look at a hobby shop or aquarium store. Other ideas include oyster shells or chunks of broken terracotta pots. Cut a piece of chicken wire or hardware cloth slightly smaller than the diameter of the container. Cover the wire with a thin layer of potting soil topped with colorful stones or pea gravel. Safe houseplant cat deterrents include pinecones nestled into the top of the soil. 

Cats usually don’t appreciate the feel or the smell. Give kitty his/her own pot of catnip or catmint. The cat may be so delighted that it will leave your other plants alone. Cats also tend to like barley, oatgrass, or wheatgrass (The downside is that this may simply tell your kitty that eating plants is acceptable.).

Play with your kitty every day. Provide scratching posts and various toys to stimulate your kitty and prevent boredom, which is one of the reasons houseplants become attractive. Pick up a cat houseplant deterrent spray at your local pet store. Bitter apple tends to be very effective.

Houseplants Cats will Leave Alone

In most cases, cats tend to avoid the following plants: 

Rosemary – Most cats hate rosemary, but felines are unpredictable. Some may actually love it. 

Coleus canina – This attractive plant, also known as scaredy-cat plant, can be grown indoors or outdoors. 

Lemon balm – Cats don’t like the citrusy aroma or the rough texture of the foliage on lemon balm

Curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) – Don’t confuse the herb curry plant with real curry (Murraya koenigii). 

Geraniums – The aroma and the thick texture of the leaves on geraniums may keep cats away. Cactus, miniature roses, and other prickly or thorny plants also seem to deter cats.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.