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How to Keep Cats Away from Plants

Most of the time, cats are sweet and playful, but occasionally their mischievous side comes out and they climb onto counters, knock things onto the floor and get into your potted plants.

If you’re wondering why your cat likes to play with your petunias, and sometimes knock them on the ground, the answer is pretty simple. Cats often “toy” with their prey, so using their paws to nudge that potted plant off the counter is actually their way of keeping their hunting skills sharp.

And let’s be real — they may also be just messing with you.

If your cat is showing a particular affinity for getting into your plants, there are a few steps you can take to keep them out of your greenery.

7 Tips ON HOW TO keep cats out of potted plants

small rocks

1. Place rocks over the dirt

Covering the dirt around your plant with rocks will keep your cat from digging, while also allowing water to pass between the rocks so the plants can be watered more easily.

spiral orange peel

2. Place orange peels around them

Cats tend to dislike the smell of citrus, so placing orange peels in a circle around your plants can form a nice barrier to keep your kitty at a distance.

rosemary plant

3. Get a plant your cat won’t like

Rosemary is a highly aromatic plant, which means cats tend not to like it. Plus, they are beautiful and will keep your house smelling great! Just make sure whatever you buy is safe for your kitty.

barley plant

4. Get a plant your cat will love

By the opposite token, you could also invest in plants like barley or catnip that your cat will love to snack on, instead of getting other plants that could be toxic to them. Some cats also enjoy mint and sesame.

double stick tape

5. Try something sticky

Cats tend to dislike sticky substances, so wrapping a layer of double-stick tape around the mouth of each plant’s pot will help to keep their paws away.



If all else fails, you can always create barriers around your plants with chicken wire, or use plants in terrariums that your cat can’t get into.

feather cat toy on a string

7. Provide a distraction

A great way to curb this behavior is to provide them with plenty of toys to distract them. Setting up fishing pole toys that hang off a counter for them to amuse themselves with could keep them from getting their claws into something you care about.

Though most cats are indifferent to houseplants, there are always a few who can’t keep their paws off those stems, stalks, and leaves.

And as we mentioned earlier, it’s also important to make sure that none of the plants in your house are poisonous to cats. Some common plants that are poisonous to cats include lilies, tulips, English ivy, oleander, and azaleas.

To learn more about which plants are safe for your felines, check out this post we wrote about helpful gardening tips!