BONNIE’S GARDEN – Cats and Plants

Today, October 29th is National Cat Day.  National Cat Day was established in 2005 and is sponsored by The Animal Miracle Foundation.  I’m someone who is lucky enough to be owned by five cats.  I’m also someone who has been owned by many cats since I adopted my first cat when I was 15.

I also adopted my first plant when I was a teenager, so have years of experience dealing with both greenery and felines.

Here is what I’ve learned:

  • Get a mister bottle and don’t be afraid to use it!  When you bring a plant home, allow your cat to “investigate” it, but if they even look like they’re thinking of tasting it, give them a sharp spray from the bottle.
  • Dust leaves liberally with cayenne pepper.  Cats likely won’t even try to taste it—the smell will likely deter them.  There is also a repellent spray called Hot Pepper Wax.  You spray it directly on the foliage.
  • A spritz of fresh lemon juice on the leaves can help, as can a product available at most pet stores called Bitter Apple.
  • There is another product available called SSScat—it’s a canister, operated by AAA batteries, that contains a motion sensor and shoots a sharp spray of air.  It covers about a three-foot-square area so is fine for indoor use.
  • To keep cats from using the soil as a litter box, simply cover the top of the soil with pine cones or gumballs.  Easy, cheap and effective!
  • Do not use most essential oils on plants—cats lack the necessary enzymes to safely metabolize these and it can cause liver damage.  (As a matter of fact, don’t even use essential oil diffusers because it can collect on their fur and they’ll ingest it when they clean themselves.)

Do some research before you bring a plant home to be sure it’s not toxic.  Websites like or are good resources.

Keep in mind that a pet may still have an allergic reaction to non-toxic plants, so it’s best to discourage them from nibbling.

Check your local pet store for other suitable repellents. Be sure to provide acceptable nibbles for cats, such as cat grass and catnip. If your pet has ingested a questionable plant or substance, seek professional help immediately.

My cats are now fairly well-behaved around plants—but if I bring one home with long, thin, grass-like foliage, all bets are off.  So I place my palm on a stand that lifts it out of their reach and I hang my spider plant in front of a window—out of their reach.

By the way, most of these suggestions will help with dogs, too.


The SPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center is a hotline providing 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week telephone assistance to veterinarians and animal owners.  There is a consultation fee.  Animal Poison Control Center   1-888-426-4435

You may also try the Pet Poison Helpline ( at 1-800-213-6680.  There is a consultation fee for this service.

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1 thought on “BONNIE’S GARDEN – Cats and Plants”

  1. Any ideas for Dogs who like to dig up flower beds?? Haven’t found anything that works yet. Not even garden Fenci g

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