You'd think Felix, being an obligate carnivore, would live in harmony with your houseplants. But cats go vegan once in a while, and stopping them from munching your potted plants can be challenging. Whether yours nibbles on your plants because he craves fiber, enjoys the taste or seeks a digestive aid, cat-proofing is essential to his safety.
Keep Them Separated
Keeping Felix safe is your responsibility, but doesn't have to mean parting with your houseplants. If Felix is an indoor cat, move your plants to the yard so he can't munch on them; otherwise cover the soil in the pot with decorative marbles or rocks to discourage him, at least, from destroying the plant at the base. Closing the doors to rooms with your plants is another option. Alternatively, use hooks and baskets to hang your plants out of his reach or put them on a high stand or shelf. Look for spots that Felix can't jump or climb to -- because if he can, he will.
Just like humans, cats dislike certain scents and flavors. Applying one of these cat repellents to your houseplants might keep Felix from going near them. Aside from using a commercial, plant-safe cat repellent, you can sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the soil surrounding your houseplants, or spray the foliage with a citrus-scented odor or eucalyptus oil. If you're unsure whether the repellent is safe to use on your plants, apply it to the pots the plants sit in or surround the plants with cotton balls soaked in the repellent.
Texture and Scare Tactics
To keep Felix from feasting on your houseplants, cover the floor that surrounds you plants with an upside-down carpet runner. When your furry friend walks on the runner, the nubby surface will feel unpleasant on his feet; he'll prefer to stay off it. Startling Felix can also keep him from nibbling your plants. When you catch him in the act, spray him with a quick squirt of water or blow a whistle to stop him in his tracks. With consistency, he'll think his behavior is triggering the unpleasant consequence, and he'll stop doing it.
In addition to stopping your cat's plant-eating fetish, redirecting him to an appropriate activity is essential to reinforce good behavior. Surprise him with his own patch of grass. Use a rectangular planter and grow grass seed, such as wheat or oats in it. Place the planter near the off-limit houseplants. Felix might choose the grass over the houseplant -- if he doesn't, make sure to stop him and redirect him to his own patch. Alternatively, walk Felix outside on a harness and allow him to eat grass that hasn't been chemically treated.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.