If your cat has resorted to chewing and eating your houseplants, you’re most likely not a happy camper. I sure wasn’t. I still remember the day when I came home to find one of my three living room ferns destroyed while my cat George was “innocently” lying right next to it with some of the green leaves still stuck between his claws. I instantly sprung into action and started doing research. Luckily the fern wasn’t poisonous, but to spare my other two ferns, I incorporated some effective methods to teach my cat right from wrong. If you’re dealing with the same problem, these helpful methods might also work for you.
The first thing I tried was a cat repellent from the pet store. Cat repellents generally have a smell or taste that’s disliked by cats. I sprayed the plants with the repellent, and to my big disappointment, it didn’t work. George was still going near the plants, pawing them with his claws, and acting as if nothing happened. I was disappointed that the repellent didn’t seem effective and went on to plan B.
I know that cats are easily startled by loud noises, and that loud noise is often used as an aversive to correct undesired behavior. My next plan was to startle and stop him in his tracks. I armed myself with an empty soup can and filled it with a few pennies. Then I watched George closely from an area where he couldn’t see me. When I caught him reaching for one of the plants, I quickly shook the can of pennies. The loud noise startled him and made him run off, leaving the plant intact. You can also use a burst of water from a water pistol to startle your cat, but because this can get a little messy, I prefer the whistle method. Eventually, George started associating the plants with the unpleasant noise and decided to leave them alone.
Although my cat George always had toys to play with, I decide to update them, because maybe he had gotten bored with them and decided to make my plants his toys. He seemed to appreciate the toys and started batting them all around the house. All I could do was hope that the new toys would provide George with enough entertainment so he would leave the plants alone.
Watching a cat 24/7 is impossible, so I had to figure out what to do when I wasn’t able to observe my cat. I didn’t want to confine him to a separate room, so the next best thing I came up with was aluminum foil. I had read online that cats dislike the texture and sound of foil under their feet. I placed large sheets of foil on the floor around the plants and crossed my fingers before leaving the house. I’m not sure if it was the effect of the whistle or the foil that did it, but when I came home, the plants were still in one piece.
Out of Reach
Going through the process of finding out what worked to keep my cat out of the houseplants was tiring. I’ve come to the conclusion that the next time I get plants, I’m hanging them up or I’ll place them on a high shelf or somewhere outside, so they’re out of the cat’s reach. I figure, if he can’t get to them, he can’t destroy them.