Cats are delightful, but they can also be destructive. If you’re wondering how to keep cats away from houseplants, you’re not alone. As cat owners, we love our pet’s mischievous blunders—until their curiosity results in shattered glass, messy spills, or entire shelves raining down.
Since indoor plants can be toxic to cats, many pet owners find it easier to sacrifice their lively green decor. But if you have just about given up, you should know thatcats and plants can coexist.
Though your cat may fight your plant, eat it, dig up its soil, or even use it as a litter box, there are ways to stop them.
We will teach you how to protect plants from cats, but first, it helps to know why your cat wants to destroy your plants in the first place.
Why Your Cat Keeps Getting Into Your Plants
There are several reasons cats get into plants, from how they taste to curing boredom. But if you can determine what motivates your cat, it will be easier to stop them from turning your next plant to shreds.
Whether your cat is fighting, eating, digging, or going to the bathroom in your plants is your first clue.
Your Cat May Like the Taste or Digestive Boost
If you’re wondering why cats eat plants because your cat craves yours, there are instinctual reasons behind their behavior.
For one, cats tend to explore items by putting them in their mouth because it provides sensory data. But if that item tastes good, there is nothing to stop them from going back for more.
Another possibility is that your cat’s instincts tell it to eat your plants to aid digestion. Wild cats often eat grass for the extra fiber, so your cat may be attempting to ease a stomach ache if their food or hairball isn’t doing them any favors.
Important:Even if your cat doesn’t eat plants, only decorate withnon-toxic varieties. Some plants are poisonous to cats, and it’s never worth the risk.
When you buy plants that are safe for your cat to eat, ensure that they don’t eat too much, and use the tips below for keeping cats out of plants altogether. Any plant can upset your kitty’s tummy if they overeat it. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat exhibits any of the following signs:
- Decreased appetite
- Pawing at their nose or mouth
Plants Bring Out Your Cat’s Inner Hunter (or Huntress)
Cats come from a long line of ferocious hunters that fought and killed to survive, and some cats still perceive themselves that way. It’s why they love to attack toys—and sometimes your toes.
To some cats, your plants look like great victims. Even the gentlest movement can be enough to encourage an attack.
Your Cat Might Be Bored
It is also possible that your cat may first get the urge to hunt or play, and your plant is the best opponent around.
Cats are considered low-maintenance compared to dogs, but they need just as much entertainment to stimulate their brains and encourage healthy behaviors. If a cat is bored, it may experience pent-up energy and frustration. Sometimes, this results in acting out or taking it out on your plants or other belongings.
Why Do Cats Dig In Plants?
Perhaps your cat is more of a digger than a fighter, and you often come home to uprooted plants and dirt scattered across the room. This behavior traces back to the fact that digging is an instinct for cats, as it is for many animals.
If your cat also uses your plants as a bathroom, the digging is instinctual to cover up their scent. In this case, the problem stems from them wanting to use your plants as a bathroom.
Your Cat Likes Your Plants More Than Their Litter Box
Litter boxes are designed to appeal to a cat’s bathroom needs. Their instinct for privacy—and to dig and cover up their business—is why litter boxes look and function the way they do. However, if your cat is unsatisfied with their litter box, they will choose to do their business elsewhere.
If your cat uses your plants as their personal bathroom, start by consulting with your vet. If there isn’t a medical cause, the problem is probably due to an unsatisfactory litter box situation, and you can refer to the section “Litter Box the Right Way” below.
How to Keep Cats Out of Plants
Now that you know why your cat has made enemies with your plants, you know it’s not out of pure malicious intent. Still, you might be wondering how you can duel with a cat’s nature.
Here’s what you can do to enjoy the serenity of having houseplants and the adventure of owning a pet cat all at once.
Make Your Plants Unappealing to Your Cat
One of the best methods for keeping cats away from plants, regardless of their motivation, is to make the plants unappealing to them. If your cat hates the taste or smell of your houseplants, they are more inclined to stay away.
Smells and tastes that are repulsive to cats include citrus, certain spices, and coffee grounds.
To make your plants less appetizing, try mixing water with juice from a lime, lemon, or orange and spraying it over your plants. You can also sprinkle your plants with chili powder, cayenne, or black pepper. If you’re wondering how to stop cats from digging in plants, cover the soil too.
You can also buy spray to keep cats from eating plants; these sprays are made with distasteful ingredients for furry friends.
When using this method, reapply repellents after watering plants.
Cats also naturally dislike certain plants, like rosemary and lemon thyme, but you should check with the ASPCA before buying any plant. Some articles on how to stop cats from eating plants recommend the Scaredy Cat Plant—aptly named because it repels cats—but some research reveals that this plant is sometimes called dogbane, whichis poisonousto cats.
Important:Never use citrus essential oils to protect plants from cats. Although they emit a strong scent, essential oilscan be toxicto cats. We also recommend checking with your vet before using any homemade or store-bought cat repellent sprays.
Place Your Plants Out of Reach
If your cat can’t reach your plants, they will have a hard time getting into trouble.
One option to keep plants away from cats is to place them high up on a shelf or hang them out of reach. When employing this method, keep in mind what your cat can do. Most cats are excellent jumpers and can rebound off nearby objects when determined. You’ll want to make sure that your cat has no way to access each plant.
Another option is to use a plant cover for cats. You can enclose your plants in a cage, fish tank, or terrarium, but you’ll want to ensure your cat can’t knock it over or paw the lid off.
★ Important:Even with plants out of reach, never buy toxic plants. It’s better not to risk it if your cat is feeling extra capable one day, you forget to put the lid on your tank, or anything else happens.
Cover Plant Soil to Protect from Digging Cats
If you have a digger on your hands, one way to deter cats from plants is to cover up your plants’ soil. There are several creative ways to go about this.
Covering the soil around the base of your plants with aluminum foil is a popular recommendation because cats don’t like the feel of foil. Mesh is another option.
If the aesthetic of foil or mesh isn’t for you, you may consider more decorative options like rocks, stones, or shells. Just be sure to use heavier stones or a thick layer to prevent your cat from knocking them out of the pot.
Train Your Cat
It’s possible to train pet cats just like you would a dog, but it takes time and patience. For this option to work, you need to be consistent and fast. Speed is essential so that your cat can connect their actions and the reward or punishment.
If you are home a lot and willing to commit to their training, you can teach your pet to leave plants alone or engage in a different activity when they want to play with them.
Bonus:Knowing what motivates your cat helps. For instance, treats or pets make a better reward based on whether your fur baby is food or affection motivated. The same goes for punishment; some cats are more deterred by a spray bottle, while others have a stronger dislike for loud noises.
Give Your Pet Their Own Plant
The whole point is to protect indoor plants from cats, so why should you willingly give them a plant to play with? Giving your cat their own plant may satisfy their plant-related instincts, so they aren’t as desperate to mess with yours.
To effectively use this strategy, you will want to train them to play with their plant any time they try to get into yours.
Cat grass is a popular choice for this strategy because it’s non-toxic, has all the plant traits that call to a cat’s instincts, and can evenaid your cat’s digestionwhile providing extra niacin and B vitamins.
Although cat grass is non-toxic, it’s still important to monitor your cat’s consumption of any plant and talk with your vet first.
Catnip also comes from a plant, but your cat may love catnip a bit too much for it to be a great choice.
Bonus:If your vet approves of this method, plant your pet’s new friend in an unbreakable plastic pot. You don’t want to have to clean up shattered pieces or risk an injury when your cat gets too excited.
Litter Box the Right Way
There are three factors to consider when it comes to providing the right litter box situation for your cats:
In terms of cleanliness, cats need their litter box cleaned once a day. If it occasionally slips your mind, you can set a reminder on your phone.
Availability is about how easy it is for your cat to access their litter box at any given time, and it’s important to note that cats don’t like to share. ThePet Health Networkrecommends always having one more litter box than you have cats (# of cats + 1). Therefore, if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes; if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.
If you have a multi-story house, it can also help to provide a litter box on each story, especially when there are plants around.
Lastly, your litter boxes should be large enough for your biggest cat to use the bathroom comfortably. Get a box as long as your cat, measured from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail when fully extended.
If any one of these three factors isn’t up to par, your cat may claim a potted houseplant as their preferred place to go.
Protect Your Cat From Boredom
If your cat attacks your plants out of boredom, the best way to stop them is to tackle the problem at the source.
Begin by creating a playful environment that stimulates your cat so they have something to do even when you’re not home. Interactive toys and cat trees are a great place to start.
As a bonus, providing your cat with mental and physical activities is also great for their health.
Your Fallback: Keep a Cat-Free Plant-Haven
Have you tried all the methods above, and nothing is enough to stop your little troublemaker? If plants bring you happiness, you have an option to fall back on: the cat-free plant room.
Creating this room is as simple as putting all your plants in one room and keeping the door shut to keep cats out. Consider picking a room with a decent amount of natural lighting. You may even have other items that could benefit from a cat-free zone.
Talk With Your Vet Before Changing Your Cat’s Lifestyle
Before trying the tips in this article, we advise talking with your vet about the changes you’re considering. If your cat is exhibiting behavioral issues or begins to, there’s a chance they may have a stomach bug or other medical issue to prioritize.
Once your methods are vet-approved, only bring cat-friendly plants into your home. Even when keeping plants away from cats, it’s best to play it safe when it comes to the smaller members of your family.
If you own a greenhouse, no matter how large or small, you can grow your own figs. As long as you keep your greenhouse temperature above about 28oF (about -2oC), your fig tree should survive the winter just fine.Can you grow figs in cold climates? ›
For overwintering, figs require almost no water — just enough to prevent desiccation, perhaps once in late winter. And light is not required, as the figs will be leafless. The ideal you're trying to simulate, he said, is a Mediterranean winter, somewhere between freezing and the low 40s.What is the coldest temperature a fig tree can handle? ›
But edible figs, even the most cold-resistant varieties, only tolerate temps down to 20°F, and will suffer true winter damage below 15°F (except 'Chicago Hardy'). So what methods will help you to winterize both containerized and already established in-ground figs?What does the Bible say about fig tree? ›
The parable of the barren fig tree is a parable of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Luke 13:6–9. A vinekeeper holds out hope that a barren fig tree will bear fruit next year. Mark 11:12–20 includes an account of Jesus cursing the fig tree: The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.
The Potted Fig
Some varieties, such as 'Petite Negra,' grow well and produce an abundance of fruit in a pot as small as 6". They can be moved outside in the summertime and back inside during the winter months.
Growing fig trees in a container means the plant will occupy the root zone of their pots quickly and then spend their energy producing fruit. Container grown figs fruit precociously, usually within five years of planting.How do you keep a fig tree alive in the winter? ›
Although some planting tricks (such as planting your fig against a south-facing wall) can help figs survive most winters without extra care, wrapping them in layers of burlap and fallen leaves in late autumn or early winter will keep them from dying back too severely during a cold winter.Can a fig tree survive a freeze? ›
Native to Mediterranean Europe, Asia and Africa, most mature fig trees can tolerate temperatures down to about 20 degrees. Some varieties, like Celeste and Hardy Chicago, are even more cold-hardy, but even they can succumb to deep freezes. Regardless of the variety, all benefit from some protection.What is the easiest fig tree to grow? ›
The easiest fig tree to grow is the Common fig or Fiscus carica, our number one pick. It loves moist, well drained soil and a sheltered spot in a warm, sunny position.How do you keep a fig tree alive indoors? ›
Indoors, they need bright indirect light, but they shouldn't bake in direct sunlight. The more light they get, the better they will look (and the faster they will grow). This plant does not—we repeat, does not—do well in low-light areas.
Allowing potted trees to go dormant: Safely let potted fig trees go dormant by exposing them to light frosts and then store them in locations with temperatures between 20-50°F.Should you prune a fig tree? ›
The best time to prune fig trees is in the winter, while the trees are dormant. Newly planted figs should be pruned after the tree's first growing season, before a new flush of spring growth. Upwards of 50% of the first year's growth can be trimmed off to create a stout, sturdy trunk.Why did Jesus condemn the fig tree? ›
By a show of leaves, it was like many people, pretending to have fruit which was not there. It was like the Pharisees who professed to be very religious, but whose lives were fruitless. Therefore, Christ cursed the fig tree as an object lesson to all not to be hypocritical.”What did Jesus do with the fig tree? ›
Mark uses the cursing of the barren fig tree to bracket and comment on his story of the Jewish temple: Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem when Jesus curses a fig tree because it bears no fruit; in Jerusalem he drives the money-changers from the temple; and the next morning the disciples find that the ...What does it mean to sit under a fig tree? ›
The section states: "but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid…." The phrase refers to the independence of the peasant farmer who is freed from military oppression.How many years does it take for a fig tree to produce fruit? ›
Figs typically form on new stem growth each year and ripen months later. Most fig trees take three to five years to start ripening fruit. Prior to that, figs may form along stems where each leaf attaches, but they won't ripen. Potted figs may bear fruit sooner.Do fig plants like big pots? ›
Look for pots that are 3 to 4 inches wider in diameter and an inch or two taller than the growing pot your fig came in. But don't get a pot that's too big (over 6 inches in diameter), as excessively large containers may allow root rot to take hold of your plant.What is the best fertilizer for fig trees? ›
Either choose a fertilizer specially made for fruit trees or use an all-purpose 8-8- 8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer (this contains a balance of 8 % or 10% N [nitrogen] P [phosphorus] and K [potassium]). Nitrogen encourages foliage growth. Phosphorus encourages the development of roots, flowers and fruits.Are figs better in pots or ground? ›
The simplest way to grow figs is in containers. This naturally restricts root growth and also means that in temperate climates, where hard frosts can damage the embryonic fruits, it's easy to move plants under cover for winter.What size container is best for fig trees? ›
While fig trees can be grown in smaller containers when they're young, eventually each tree will require a 15-20 gallon container. This size container is ideal for fig growing because it promotes an ample root system without encouraging excessive top growth plus you can still move it around easily.
Fig trees can live 200 years or more if well cared for. Under good conditions, fig trees can produce fruit indefinitely, although many commercial growers replace them after 30-50 years. Figs ripen between May and November, with some fig varieties producing two crops per season.Do you bury a fig tree in the winter? ›
A Curious Tradition Preserves A Taste Of Italy : The Salt For generations, Italian-American fig growers in the Northeast have buried their trees in trenches for the winter. It's a tradition that preserves both flavor and ancestral ties to southern Italy.Can you leave a potted fig outside in winter? ›
You will need a winter storage space like a garage where (ideally) the temperature stays between 32 to 50°F (0-10°C). Many fig trees are hardy (can survive year round outdoors) in gardening zones 7 to 11. With these overwintering tips, you can keep them thriving in zones as low as 4.Should I wrap my fig tree for winter? ›
Although some planting tricks (such as planting your fig against a south-facing wall) can help figs survive most winters without extra care, wrapping them in layers of burlap and fallen leaves in late autumn or early winter will keep them from dying back too severely during a cold winter.What do you do with a potted fig tree in the winter? ›
When the leaves begin to drop in autumn, bring the container inside to an unheated room, such as a basement, garage, shed, or storage building. Throughout the winter, water only when the potting medium becomes dry. A dormant tree doesn't take in water, but can die if the roots dry out. Don't fertilize in winter.Can you grow figs indoors? ›
If you live in a cooler climate, you should grow the ficus indoors. However, you should still have enough humidity and light for the plant to be comfortable. It should be in a place with direct light exposure.How long do fig trees last? ›
Not a demanding plant, the fig tree is a long-living tree, it can live to more than 300 years! To thrive, it requires a lot of sunlight and fertile, well drained soil (it tolerates acidic or slightly chalky soil).What is the sweetest fig tree? ›
Bursa. If you prefer sweet, choose Bursa figs. It is one of the sweetest fig varieties available. The skin is dark purple and powderless with red to purple flesh on the inside.What is the best fig tree for a small yard? ›
Description: Celeste Fig trees are ideal for small yards and containers. The fruit is ranked high for its sugary-sweet taste. This dwarf tree is pest and disease resistant and heat tolerant.Do figs have wasps in them? ›
Before you go thinking that those crunchy seeds in figs are in fact bits of dead wasp, let us set you straight. There are no dead wasps in figs. Just seeds - nothing more.
Pests – Fiddle leaf figs are susceptible to fairly common pests, such as mealy bugs, scale, mites, whiteflies, and aphids, but on a healthy, growing fiddle leaf fig they are rare. In the event a bug finds its way to your fig, simply wipe it down with a soapy wet rag.Where is the best place to keep a fig tree? ›
Where to plant a fig tree. Figs do best in a sheltered, sunny spot, ideally against a brick wall where they can soak up the heat from the wall at night.Do you water a fig tree when it is dormant? ›
Water your fig tree sparingly once a month during winter while in your garage. Do not soak. The tree is dormant and requires only that its roots don't dry out completely.When can I bring my potted fig tree inside? ›
A potted fig tree should be brought indoors after the first frost and when all of the leaves have fallen off the tree.What month do fig trees ripen? ›
Figs produce fruit a year after planting. In mild winter and very long, warm summer regions, a fig tree may ripen two crops in one season, the first in early summer, the second late summer or fall. In cooler summer regions, a fig tree will ripen one crop in late summer.Do you need two fig trees to get figs? ›
Figs are self-fruitful, so you need only one plant to produce fruit. Mature fig trees can be 10 to 30 feet tall. If you have more room, plant several. Choose early, mid and late-fruiting selections to extend your harvest from summer into early fall.Can you cut a branch off a fig tree and replant it? ›
ANSWER: Figs trees are easy to propagate from dormant, hardwood cuttings taken this month. Cut 10- to 12-inch pieces from the ends of branches. You may plant several fig cuttings together in a container of potting soil covering the lower 4 to 6 inches of the cuttings.What happens if you don't prune a fig tree? ›
If you don't prune them regularly, the trees will not develop a nice crown, will be prone to diseases, and will produce fewer fruits. In this article, I will show you when and how to prune fig trees in winter and summer and in the first, second, and further years, as well as which tools to use for the best results.Should I cut off the brown fig leaves? ›
We suggest always removing the damaged area of a leaf or the complete leaf if entirely brown. Removal of the dead leaf or damaged areas helps the plant recover and look its best. You will need very sharp scissors or pruning shears.What does a fig symbolize? ›
From a spiritual symbol to a luxurious treat, the Fig tree is steeped in ancient meaning and for millennia, has symbolised wisdom and success in an abundance. Fig trees were so highly valued by the ancient Greeks that it was considered an honour to bestow upon the winner of various competitions.
According to the story, it was the dogwood tree that provided the wood used to build the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Because of its role in the crucifixion, it is said that God both cursed and blessed the tree.What is the moral of the parable of the fig tree? ›
The Church Fathers, and the Catholic Church subsequently, has interpreted this parable as Jesus Christ warning Christians that they must bear fruits after their conversion worthy of repentance or risk being condemned to Hell.What did Jesus see under the fig tree? ›
Chrysostom: "He asks as man, Jesus answers as God: Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee: not having beheld him as man, but as God discerning him from above.Was the forbidden fruit a fig? ›
"Rabbinic commentators variously characterized it as a fig, a pomegranate, a grape, an apricot, a citron, or even wheat. Some commentators even thought of the forbidden fruit as a kind of wine, intoxicating to drink."What does the olive tree represent in the Bible? ›
The fruiting of olive tree likens the rich blessings of God in the lives of believers (Psalms 51: 10). The olive tree rich in fruiting symbolize a mother which enriches her home with her children, the fruits of her love (Psalms 127: 3).What does the Quran say about fig trees? ›
In the first Quranic verses in sura al Teen, the medicinal advantages of the fig are discussed the Quran says: "I swear by the Fig and the Olive" (47). Fig plant is one of the fruits mentioned in the Quran, along with olives, grapes, pomegranate, banana and dates.What is the folklore about fig trees? ›
The fabled founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were found as infants under a fig tree, where they were being nursed by a she-wolf. The Romans also associated the fig tree with Rumina, patron goddess of breastfeeding mothers, due to its milky sap.What is the proverb of fig tree? ›
Proverbs 27:18 says, He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit (NASB). Using an agricultural image of his day, Solomon gives us the benefit of working – we get to eat the figs from the tree to which we tend.At what temperature do figs stop growing? ›
Fig trees tolerate more cold than many people realize. Mature, dormant plants can survive temperatures as low as 15° to 20°F—sometimes even colder—without damage. Hardiness in figs is not an exact science, though young plants are more tender than mature ones.What is the best environment for figs? ›
Figs trees need warm conditions and subtropical climates to thrive but will tolerate some low temperatures as long as it remains above 15°F. Areas with harsh winters are unsuitable for this species, but you can grow figs in big pots and protect them during the winter by storing them in a cool garage or basement.
The exception to the “no indoor figs” rule is the dwarf fig variety 'Petite Negra', which gets only 3-8 feet tall when grown in a container and usually keeps its leaves through the winter.Can a fig tree survive indoors? ›
If you live in a cooler climate, you should grow the ficus indoors. However, you should still have enough humidity and light for the plant to be comfortable. It should be in a place with direct light exposure.How do I protect my potted fig tree in the winter? ›
Although some planting tricks (such as planting your fig against a south-facing wall) can help figs survive most winters without extra care, wrapping them in layers of burlap and fallen leaves in late autumn or early winter will keep them from dying back too severely during a cold winter.Do figs need lots of water? ›
As a general rule, a Fig tree needs at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water a week. Check the tree's leaves, if they start turning yellow and dropping off then it's a sign that the tree needs to be watered. Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Adding a layer of mulch around the tree can help retain moisture.What is the hardiest fig tree? ›
The Chicago Hardy Fig tree is known for being especially cold hardy and producing small, brown to purple colored figs. The inside of the fruit is colored a lovely shade that looks like strawberry jam. This plant is also known as the Bensonhurst Purple fig or the Hardy Chicago.How many years does it take for a fig tree to produce figs? ›
Figs typically form on new stem growth each year and ripen months later. Most fig trees take three to five years to start ripening fruit. Prior to that, figs may form along stems where each leaf attaches, but they won't ripen. Potted figs may bear fruit sooner.How many years do fig trees produce fruit? ›
On average, fig trees take between 3 and 5 years to produce fruits that ripen. The fruits grow on stems every year, but they won't ripen until the tree matures. After maturity, the fruits will ripen every year.How long do fig trees live? ›
Fig | 30-50 years
Fig trees live longest when their roots have the opportunity to dry out a bit between waterings.
Fiddle Leaf Figs should be placed in front of a window that will receive direct morning or afternoon light. Ideally, what you're aiming for is a window with a mostly unobstructed eastern, western, or southern exposure — you don't want trees or close buildings shading the window.Can you keep a fig tree small? ›
Figs can be kept small by pruning them as shrubs, allowing them to be grown in the smallest of backyard spaces—a boon for urban edible landscapers. The sap of certain figs can be a skin irritant, so be sure to wear gloves when pruning.