Why do cats eat houseplants?

loki-plantLet’s face it, cats love nibbling on grass. It’s fresh, it’s living, it’s green, and it’s also a good digestive aid to help them cough up hairballs or settle an upset tummy which explains why many will “throw up” after eating grass. When indoor cats are unable to find grass to nibble on, they start chewing on the next best thing… your house plants and floral arrangements!

Why do cats eat houseplants?

  • It’s a new toy.  All a cat sees is new toy with lots of dangly things. Leaves move and petals can move when your air conditioner or heater is on.  No matter how smart you may think your cat is, they see movement as prey or toy. Especially when that ‘toy’ is a hanging plant with pups or vines hanging down swaying with the air currents and begging to be played with.
  • Boredom. Hey, that looks interesting, let’s explore!
  • Attention Seeking. The fastest way to get your attention is to start chewing on a plant. Cat is no longer ignored as they now have your undivided  attention and you’re speaking to them: No! Bad Kitty!
  • Satisfies a craving. They need a little “fiber” or roughage in their diet. It could be the taste, texture of leaves, or freshness they crave to clear their digestive track of hairballs, relieve an upset stomach, constipation, or even a vitamin/dietary deficiency.
  • Call of the wild. It’s the call of the wild! It’s fresh, green, living and smells great! Whether you can smell a scent or not, your plant may be giving off a scent or chemicals that only your cat can sense and is naturally drawn to. It’s an attraction passed down through generations dating back to their ancestors in the wild.

Decorating your home with house plants…

There is no reason not to decorate your home with houseplants if you own or plan to own a cat. There is also no need to get rid of your existing plants if you’ve just adopted a cat. Common houseplants are not only beautiful to look at but bring color and life to an otherwise drab corner or empty space. They also serve as a nature’s “air filter” improving air quality by raising humidity, releasing oxygen and removing pollutants in the air which can lead to allergies, infections, and even asthma. An additional health benefit which is shared by both plants and cats is their ability to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. So let’s keep both! They can coexist happily and safely if you’re willing to make a few changes.

Occam’s razor! Sometimes the simplest solution is the solution.

How to stop your cat from eating houseplants…

catgrass - cat-2442525_1920Cat Grass satisfies your cat’s craving for greens and is completely safe! For over 40 years in owning both cats and plants, I have never had one interested in my plants for “chewing” purposes. More importantly, I always keep fresh cat grass planters (not to be confused with catnip) throughout the house which probably takes care of any plant “cravings” and gives me the added benefit of chlorophyll fresh “kitty kisses”. You can buy cat grass locally in any pet store, Petco, and Petsmart which normally have it by the checkout aisles. You can also grow your own by purchasing cat grass seeds online from eBay, Amazon and Chewy. I have found the best value and varieties for buying seeds in bulk is eBay. It’s easy to grow, doesn’t require much soil and water, and usually takes 2-4 days. However, I would recommend waiting a couple more days for the grass to fill in and your blades have some height. Your biggest challenge is usually finding a place to grow it without your cat chewing or pulling out the blades before they’re ready. For most plant owners with cats, this has been the solution.Should your cat not like the cat grass you brought home, try a different “flavor” by buying kits or seeds. Cat grass kits contain everything you need to grow your own (seeds, soil, and potting container) you just add water and sunlight. Since cat grass seeds come in a variety of flavors and blends which include oats, wheat, barley, rye, flax, mixed, sweet, red, crested etc. you may want to experiment. Other benefits of cat grass is it clears out your cat’s stomach and is packed with a few minerals, vitamins (A, B, C, K, E), chlorophyll, moisture and even folic acid which is good for energy.

Prevent boredom

cat-1776716_1920Yes, when cats don’t have enough mental and physical stimulation they can become bored just like children. Play with your cat daily. If you have to, designate a period of play time with your feline. Keep a selection of interactive toys and a couple of tall sturdy cat scratching posts and high perches available. Rotate your cat toys and their placement throughout the house. With boredom comes behavioral problems which can often times manifest itself in the inappropriate maiming or destruction of plants and furniture.

Make houseplants not accessible

plantstandSmall potted plants can be moved to a higher location making it difficult to access. You can convert them to hanging plants, move to a higher shelf, to the top of a bookcase, on to or in to a bookcase shelf, or on top of a cabinet or mantle. You can rearrange or switch around your plants (based on your plants lighting requirements) with the most “cat attractive plants” moved or switched out with those they ignore.  You can also consider closing off or dedicating a room as your “plant” room?

Large potted plants and trees are great when they’re outside during the warm months, but when brought in for the winter can become your cat’s new BFF, and lo and behold it will be your favorite tree. If it’s not the need to chew, it’s  often the need to climb and explore new heights. Depending on your plants’ sun requirements you can elevate it using a plant stand to make it difficult to reach, move it to a different location within the same room, move it into another room entirely, cover it with mesh, surround it with chicken wire, or find a healthy substitute… the cat post, cat tree, door or wall climber.

Provide a cat post, cat tree, door or wall climber

boss-2911333_1920 (1)Cats have a natural inclination to want to climb and be up high. If your cat is using your plant/tree primarily for scratching, stretching or climbing and shredding leaves to achieve that high vantage point it can be a sign that your cat has found your plant acceptable to satisfy his/her natural instincts. It could also be the one spot where your cat is trying to catch sun rays. A simple solution is to provide an adequate cat post, cat tree, wall or door climber that is both tall and sturdy to act as a substitute.

Repellents

Cat safe repellent sprays are an easy low-effort non-toxic alternative that can be used to keep cats out and off of plants. There are a variety of solutions available for purchase as well as natural essential oils you can make. The downfall is the constant need to reapply to be effective.

Plants that are Toxic to Pets >>> Coming soon

 

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