Why do cats eat plants ?
If you have seen cats running free outside, you have probably noticed that they sometimes chew on grass. In most cases, it makes them throw up short after. It’s a way for them to purify themselves; explanations for this behavior is shared between different scientific explanations:
- Eliminate all indigestible matter from the cat’s digestive tract (by throwing up)
- Use folic acid contained in the grass as a supplement
- Acts as a laxative when your cat needs an extra help breaking down any hairballs that might have passed further in Kitty’s digestive tract.
For a cat that spends most of his time inside, a plant = grass. He may eat those plants for the same reason that he eats grass.
Finally, cats are a little bit like us humans. Sometimes, stress or boredom can cause strange behaviors ! Although I’ve rarely eaten any plants when I was preparing for a stressful meeting, stress does have a huge impact on us and the way we behave. Same goes for our furry friends. Cats have their own way of expressing their feelings and getting attention. Eating plants could be one of them if your cat feels lonely, bored or intimidated by another animals of the house. In this case, identifying the stress factor may help you get rid of his plant eating habit.
Why stop your cat from eating plants ?
Whether it’s for your plant’s sake or your cat’s sake, this behavior should be very carefully controlled. Keeping your plants healthy are a good reason for discouraging your cat to eat them however it is not the only reason. Some plants are actually extremely toxic for your cat! When we lived in France, Brittany was a nanny for three little french boys and the family owned a cat. This little “Matou” ate one of the plants sitting on the coffee table of the house and nearly died. He had to go to the animal hospital and be treated immediately. Luckily he was okay but it was a close one. One of the first “plant rules” to follow when you have a cat is to avoid as much as possible these toxic plants:
- Ficus Tree
- Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
- Great hemlock
- Gui (Viscum Album)
- Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
- Oleander (Nerium oleander)
- Ivy (Hedera)
- Philodendron (Philodendrum)
- Bright Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
- Rhododendron and Azalea (Rhododendrum)
- Solanum capsicastrum
- Mountain Violet
- (For a complete list visit this animal poison control article)
If your cat ate a plant and you are not sure what to do, simply go to your local vet as soon as possible to make sure your little one is ok!
How to stop cats from eating plants in 3 steps
Protect your plants
Hang your plants from the roof when possible or simply put them out of reach of the beast. That’s what we did on our balcony back in the US. Out of reach is simply the best solution!
If you cannot “hide” your plants, you need to find a way that your cat does not want to hang out too much near them. Either use a simple solution 1/4 vinegar + 3/4 water or use products specifically designed for that matter.
If your cat still comes too close from the plant, try this technique. Take several empty cans of soda and build a little wall around your plant. When your cat tries to reach the plant and make it all fall, he will get scared and run away. By repeating the process several times, he should be smart enough not to hang out to close from those. This technique might be a bit tedious if you have many plants in your household.
Finally, when everything fails, we recommend the PetSafe Ssscat Cat Spray Control System. Put it next to your plants and watch your furry beast become a scaredy cat a couple times. It will for sure make him stay away from trouble.
Train your cat and give him what he needs
If your cat is eating plants, it might just mean he is trying to find the beneficial effects from grass that we described earlier.
The first step you can try is to give him what he needs, something he can nibble on without putting himself in danger or damaging a beautiful plant. For that matter, you can invest in cat grass. It’s super easy to grow, pretty cheap and will be delightful for your little monster.
If you see your cat getting close to a forbidden plant, gently put him in front of the good grass you bought him to make him understand what is the right way.
You do not want to punish your cat directly. Your cat will not understand and will associate the punishment to you and not to the plant. This is why we recommended the PetSafe Ssscat Cat Spray Control System or the empty can system. Your cat will associate the fear to the plant area and not to you, his master. This way you will avoid creating a tensed situation between you and your little friend, and that’s just for the best.
Finally, one possible interpretation of such a behavior is simply that your cat is bored. Play with him, give him some new toys that will make him run around. If he finds something more fun to do, he will probably stop chewing on your beautiful plants.
Final thoughts: How to stop cats from eating plants
If you made it this far, you are now ready to turn your house into a plant eating monster heaven. By providing him healthy chewing options, more entertainment you will facilitate the transition toward a less dangerous house for your cat. By following our step by step guide, you will stop cats from eating plants. Also do not forget the “protection” spell around your plants 🙂 Protecting your plants is as important as educating your cat.
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