Safe Houseplants for Cats: What They Won’t Chew On
As a houseplant enthusiast, it’s a joy to cultivate a vibrant indoor garden, but when there’s a feline friend sharing the same space, keeping plants intact becomes more of a challenge. Cats, by nature, are explorers and can occasionally find your green oasis too irresistible to ignore. The fortunate reality, however, is that many types of houseplants are naturally less appealing to cats, and with an understanding of feline behavior, the right choice of plants and a few deterring methods, you can maintain a peaceful coexistence of your cats and houseplants. Stepping into your kitty’s paw pads, we will delve into why cats are attracted to plants and how you can utilise this knowledge to create a cat-proof indoor garden.
Understanding Cat Behavior and Their Eating Habits
Cats, by nature, are explorers and exhibit a primal instinct to chew on foliage. Domestic cats, especially those kept exclusively indoors, will often use houseplants as a means to satisfy this inherent craving. There are various theories as to why felines are drawn to vegetation. Some speculations include amusement or play, stress-relief, and evoking hunting instincts. Chewing on greens can also aid cats in dental hygiene by removing plaque and cleaning gums.
A Matter of Nutrient Deficiency
Constant chewing of houseplants could indicate a nutrient deficiency in your cat’s diet. Cats usually consume grass or plants when they need to induce vomiting, clearing their stomachs of indigestible matter like furballs. This behavior is often a sign that they are not receiving adequate nutrition through their regular meals. If you observe your cat partaking excessively in plant-eating, it would be worthwhile to consult a veterinarian regarding potential changes required in their diet.
Choosing Cat-Safe Houseplants
Keeping the feline attraction to plants in mind, it is vital to identify those that are safe for your cat and not toxic if ingested. Various houseplants such as the Spider Plant, Areca Palm, or the Boston Fern are generally harmless to cats and can endure a little nibbling. On the other hand, certain plants like Lilies or Pothos can be highly toxic to cats, causing severe stomach upset or even leading to liver failure. Therefore, it is crucial to research the plants you keep at home and ensure they pose no risk to your feline’s health.
Creating a Feline-Safe Indoor Garden
For enthusiastic indoor gardeners who are also cat owners, the concept of having a feline-safe indoor garden can be appealing. This can be executed by designating a corner of the house solely for cat-friendly plants. Cat Grass or Catnip, for example, are plants cats not only love to graze on, but are also completely safe and beneficial for them. By providing enticing plants for your cat, you can redirect their attention and keep other houseplants out of harm’s way.
Training Cats to Avoid Certain Plants
Despite having safe options, there’s a chance that your cat will still head towards the off-limits plants. To address this, cat owners can use various training techniques like reinforcing positive behavior when the cat avoids the plant, or using deterrents like citrus peels or bitter apple spray, which are disliked by cats, around the forbidden plants. Consistent repetition and patience are key to successful training.
Gaining insight into your cat’s preference for houseplants is crucial in nurturing a peaceful co-existence between your furry companion and your adored indoor greenery.
Types of Houseplants Cats Generally Avoid
Cats are curious animals and may chew on houseplants out of curiosity or for various other reasons. Some houseplants can be toxic to cats, so it’s essential to be aware of which plants to avoid or keep out of reach. Here are some types of houseplants that cats generally tend to avoid due to their taste, smell, or texture:
1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Safe for your cat to nibble on, Spider plants make for a fantastic choice. These widely-liked houseplants charm with their elongated, spider-like leaves that paint a stunning visual scenery. They are quite adaptable and can sustain in both indirect sunlight and lower light settings. A tip to keep these plants healthy is to water them when the top 1 inch of soil dries out.
2. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
The Areca Palm plant is often chosen due to its feathery and light fronds which give it a pleasing aesthetic as a houseplant. This plant also appreciates bright, indirect light but can handle low light periods. It does well with regular watering but always wait until the top half of the soil is dry before rewatering. Despite being non-toxic to cats, they usually avoid eating it due to its stringy, tough fronds.
3. Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
Also known as Creeping Charlie, the Swedish Ivy is a fast-growing plant with glossy leaves. It’s an excellent hanging plant and very low maintenance. The plant prefers bright indirect sunlight but can adapt to moderate light conditions. Water when the top layer of soil feels dry, or give it a thorough watering every 1-2 weeks. Cats typically do not eat Swedish Ivy because of its strong smell.
4. Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)
Cats tend to steer clear of Bromeliads due to their rosette-like shape and sometimes spiky edges. These plants are attractive and come in many shapes and colors. They do well in low light, making them perfect for inside the house. Only water when the top soil of the plant dries out.
5. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Another non-toxic option for felines, Boston Ferns have delicate and feathery fronds that cats don’t seem to enjoy eating. Boston Ferns enjoy high humidity and indirect light, making them perfect for bathrooms or kitchens. They prefer their soil to be kept consistently damp, but not soggy.
6. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Also known as the Reed Palm, this plant features long, elegant, and arching fronds. Cats usually avoid eating it due to the toughness of the leaves. It does well in moderate to bright indirect light but can also tolerate low light conditions. Water this plant when the top inch of soil becomes dry.
7. Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)
Zebra Plants are known for their large glossy leaves and white veins, giving them a unique appearance. They’re often avoided by cats, possibly due to the rigidity of the leaves. These plants fare best in bright, indirect light and prefer to be watered when the top layer of soil becomes dry.
As an enthusiast, it’s important to note that while certain houseplants are typically non-toxic, cats can still experience sensitivities or allergic reactions to them. Hence, it’s imperative to keep a close eye on your feline friend when introducing new plants to ensure they remain healthy and content.
Tips and Solutions for Detering Cats from Your Plants
If you have indoor or outdoor plants and want to deter cats from getting too close or damaging them, there are several tips and solutions you can try:
1. Choosing Cat-Friendly Houseplants
A clever strategy to prevent your cats from munching on houseplants is to opt for those that generally don’t pique a cat’s interest. Safer options include spider plants, bromeliads, areca palms, and Boston ferns, which are not just non-toxic but are also typically ignored by cats. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to keep an eye on your cat’s activities around these plants and discourage any attempts to chew on them, fostering not just your cat’s well-being but also the health and durability of your plants.
2. Creating Physical Barriers to Protect Plants
Physical barriers are an effective way to deter cats from accessing your plants. This can include placing your plants on high shelves or in hanging baskets that cats can’t easily reach. Additionally, you can place spikes or a thick layer of gravel around the base of your plants. This could deter your feline friends since they usually dislike stepping on such surfaces.
3. Cat-Friendly Deterrents
Cats have a keen sense of smell that you can use to your advantage when protecting your plants. Spraying your plants with a citrus or vinegar-based solution can help deter cats, as they are generally repelled by these odors. Besides, essential oils like citronella, lavender, or rosemary mixed with water can be used as a natural deterrent. However, always make sure to check that the oils are safe for cats to inhale or come into contact with.
4. Train Your Cats Away From Plants
Training your cats to avoid plants might take time, but it’s a vital long-term solution. You can start by firmly saying “No” whenever you catch your cat trying to nibble on a plant. Consistency is key here, as cats will understand through constant repetition that they are not supposed to eat the plants. Using a reward system, such as giving treats for positive behavior, can also reinforce proper etiquette around your houseplants.
5. Providing Alternative Plants For Cats to Chew
Often, cats eat plants due to boredom or a dietary deficiency. Providing your cats with their own plants to munch on can keep them away from your greenery. Catnip is a popular choice; most felines love it, and having their own supply can distract them from your other plants. Cat grass, available in pet stores, also gives them a safe option to gratify their chewing instinct.
6. Regularly Trim Your Plant’s Leaves
Regularly trimming your plant’s leaves not only keeps your plants tidy but also makes them less attractive to curious cats. The lesser the leaves falling off from your plants, the less likely your cats will play with or ingest them. Implementing this will ensure your house plants continue to thrive without becoming your cat’s newest snack.
Remember, the goal is to keep both your cat and your plants safe and happy in the same living environment, and these steps can help achieve that balance.
Having a cat in the house doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your indoor gardening passion. Understanding your feline’s behavior, curiosity and dietary needs is the first step to creating a safe and peaceful indoor environment for both parties. Running through the list of houseplants that typically remain untouched by cats, and equipping yourself with proven deterrents, could save many a beloved plant from becoming Kitty’s lunch. Remember, your goal isn’t to suppress your cat’s natural instincts but to redirect them. With patience and the right strategies, you can maintain your green oasis while catering to the inquisitiveness of your feline friend. Embrace the challenge and let your love for both plants and cats bloom in your home.