The soil in your potted house plants may look a lot like your cat's litterbox--to him, at least. While getting him to consistently use the litterbox is a victory that turns cats into livable housemates, constantly "going" in your potted plants is a good way to get him kicked out. Not only is having kitty feces or urine in your plants unsightly and likely to create unpleasant odors, the salt from the cat urine may damage the plant. Keep the peace--and your sanity--by using simple methods of prevention and consistent reinforcement to save both plants and cats from an unpleasant end.
Identify the plants your cat most commonly gets in to and hang them, if at all possible, to keep them out of the cat's reach.
Move plants currently sitting on the ground or on low tables to higher locations. Some cats may still jump to get at the plants, but some will be deterred.
Cover the plants' soil with rough rock to make it unpleasant to your cat's paws. You can also place foil or wax paper to cover the plants' soil, but using the rock may provide a more tolerable, attractive look.
Combine two parts cayenne pepper, three parts dry mustard and five parts standard flour in a small bowl. Mix together until well blended.
Put on dishwashing gloves or other "throw-away" gloves to protect your hands from the cayenne and mustard.
Sprinkle the powdered mixture over the soil of houseplants where you don't want the cat to go. Note that this remedy may not be desirable if you have small children in the house.
Fill a spray bottle with water. Leave the bottle near the beleaguered plant or within easy spritzing range of the plant in question, in a place where you can get to it very quickly.
Keep a careful watch for signs that the cat is about to get into the plant.
Spritz the cat with the water either just before she gets into the plant or while she's into the plant. The water won't hurt the cat but should scare her away. If you do this every single time the cat tries to get into the plant, there's a good chance that she will eventually stop trying.
About this Author
Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.