If you have a cat, it is likely that you’ve noticed that he enjoys eating plants. If your cat is young, he may just be chewing for comfort, much as babies do. Dangling flowers or leaves can be attractive playthings to pounce on or he may have realized that nibbling your prize landscaping will win him your attention. It has been suggested that cats sometimes eat plants intentionally to cause vomiting – either as a cure for gastrointestinal issues or to dislodge hairballs – a DIY remedy, if you will.
Regardless of whether your cat enjoys eating houseplants or outdoor garden plants, it can be dangerous to your cat’s health in certain situations. Although some plants are harmless for cats to ingest, others can easily poison your cat. If you are worried about your cat eating plants, the following tips can help to stop them:
Make Plants Taste Bad
If your cat insists upon chewing on your houseplants, consider taking measures to make them unappealing. Some pet parents choose to sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the soil and leaves of houseplants while others purchase topical, spray-on deterrents (such as Veterinarians Best Bitter Cherry Spray).
Regardless of what you choose, this is an easy and effective way to get your cat to stop eating plants. Because these spray-on deterrents are not detrimental to your cat’s health, you can rest easy knowing that your kitty is safe and learning good behavior.
Limit Your Cat’s Access to Plants
If spraying a topical deterrent on plants does not discourage your cat from chewing on them, consider simply limiting the cat’s access to your plants. By putting plants in a separate room from where the cat is typically allowed, you can most likely nip the problem in the bud (pun intended) and ensure that both your plants and your cats are safe. It may also work to place plants in hard-to-reach areas or surround outdoor plants by fences your cat cannot breach.
If you have tried the above tips and your cat continues to eat your plants, consider offering the cat acceptable outlets for his chewing behavior. If toys don’t work, you can consider providing potted plants that are safe for cats to consume. Catnip will work well, as will wheat grass.
Enlist Professional Help
If you have tried everything but nothing seems to deter your cat from eating your plants, consider a trip to your vet’s office. Certain medical conditions like pica (eating a range of unsuitable things, from plants and sand to electrical cords and paper) or compulsive behaviors can cause a cat to develop plant-eating behaviors. In order to quell your cat’s tendency to eat plants fully, you need to ensure that the behavior is not borne from a medical condition that is going untreated.
If your cat has been eating plants, it is time to dig a bit deeper into the behavior. If the plants your cat chooses to eat are harmless varieties, this behavior likely will not be a problem. However, if your cat chooses to eat dangerous varieties of plants, he could easily be putting his health at risk.
Fortunately, breaking your cat’s plant eating habit can often be done through a series of simple actions. By limiting his access to plants, making plants taste poorly, offering safe alternatives and seeing a veterinarian if necessary, you can help your cat stop this practice.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian