Calls for help from concerned cat owners or complaints from disgruntled hobby gardeners: In Internet forums numerous entries can be found because the house or neighbor cat has once again mistaken the plants and flower beds for the litter box. But why do cats actually like to urinate in house plants?? All about possible causes and how you can stop the unwanted cat behavior, you will learn here.
Why cats like plants
Whether flowerbed, herb garden, potted or houseplants: Many cats seem to be magically attracted to greenery in the apartment, on the balcony or in the garden. They love to play with the funny wiggling branches, nibble on the green leaves or dig in the soft flower soil. Cats are simply curious and want to explore everything around them and they have a weakness for such soft material as potting soil, which is great for digging and playing with. It is not surprising that some cats use the potted plant or the flower bed as a litter box and try to bury their urine or feces neatly under the ground.
What seems to be natural for cats is a horror for many cat owners, plant lovers and hobby gardeners. After all, cat urine stinks terribly- especially if it ends up in the potted plant in your own living room. And if the cat repeatedly chooses the same plant to urinate on, this can also harm the plant in the long run. But how can the cat’s behavior be prevented and how can plants and soil be protected from the uninvited "visitor"? should be protected?
If the cat is unclean?
It is important to clarify first of all, for what reasons the cat pees in the plant. Is she just bored and the plant provides a welcome change? Does it want to mark its territory with it or is it possibly unclean? Between the uncleanliness and the marking lie large differences and accordingly differently cat owners should react to it. While marking is primarily a communication signal, unclean is really about finding a suitable place to urinate. Cats that are unclean usually reject their assigned litter box- whether because they reject the litter, because the litter box is cleaned too infrequently, is in an awkward place or because it was cleaned with strong-smelling cleaning agents. Cats that mark, on the other hand, usually continue to use the litter box. Also, they do not bury the urine with their paws, but spray branches and stems from a horizontal position.
How to protect your plants from the cat
Before you educate your cat to cleanliness or alternatively to break the habit of marking, you can do a few things which naturally a little time and patience needed- First, however, let us turn our attention once again to your plants. You can do a few things to protect the greenery in your home from the cat’s urine in the short term.
- Barriers made of stones, pine cones, aluminum foil& Co build: Cats especially love the soft soil around the plants. Therefore, to keep them away from pots and flower beds, sometimes it is enough to cover the soil with harder material. Stones, shells or pine cones are well suited and decorative at the same time. Bark mulch also keeps some velvet paws from doing their business on the plant. If you want to play it safe and care less about appearance, you can also cover the soil in pots and flower boxes with aluminum foil. From this strange, slippery and noisy crackling material, most house cats leave their paws. Also conceivable, and somewhat less conspicuous than aluminum foil, is to shield the plants from the curious cat with the help of a fly screen or other fine, slightly prickly wire netting.
- Use scents or unpleasant odors: Another way to protect plants from cat urine is to spray them with a scent that is unpleasant to fine furry noses. Some cat owners swear by the smell of lemons or oranges in this regard. Instead of using scented sprays, which can be toxic not only to plants but also to cats because of the perfumes or insecticides they contain, it’s better to spread lemon or lime peel around your plants. Alternatively, you can lay out cotton balls that you have previously dipped in lemon or lime juice. Also coffee grounds or spices such as coriander, lemongrass, garlic and onions avoid many cats. When using food, of course, make sure it is not eaten by your cat. You should also replace peels of lemons, limes or oranges regularly to prevent them from becoming moldy.
- Put plants out of reach: If neither stones, nor lemons, nor aluminum foil can stop the cat from urinating in the flowerpot, the only solution is to move it out of the cat’s reach. Smaller plants can be placed in hanging pots on the wall or ceiling or on a higher shelf that your cat cannot reach. Of course, this also applies to any plants that are poisonous to the cat, such as cyclamen, lilies, amaryllis or chrysanthemums.
- Secure with the help of sounds or motion detectors: A somewhat elaborate but quite effective method is to scare cats away from plants by making an unpleasant noise or using flashes of light as soon as she goes to a plant. Of course, this deterrent works only if it is used regularly, i.e. it is suitable only for owners (or neighbors) who are at home a lot and can watch their cat roaming around the house or garden and reach for the bell, whistle or flashlight at the crucial moment. If you can’t spare the time, you can of course equip the plants with an automatic motion detector that makes a noise or lights up brightly when someone approaches. It is important that you scare the cat only slightly and do not scare them with the deterrent method. For cats that are already very anxious by nature and react stressfully and nervously to loudness or unforeseen events, you should rather resort to a gentler form of weaning.
Re-educate your cat
Even if the protective dams and deterrent methods described above protect your plants from cat pee in the short term, they will probably not be sufficient to fully educate your cat to cleanliness. A cat that is unclean or marks will- if the plants are denied to her- Instead, look for the bed, the sofa, the fence or the door frame where she can leave her urine. In order to get your cat to use the litter box exclusively for its business, you should once again ask "why" ask for her behavior.
If your cat urinates in the plants because it rejects its litter box? Is your cat perhaps unsettled or stressed due to certain changes or a certain event and has therefore adopted this unsightly behavior? Is it really uncleanliness or does the cat mark? Is she possibly ill? Sometimes cats have pain when urinating due to a disease and therefore do not dare to go to the designated litter box any more. There are different reasons why cats suddenly urinate in plants and accordingly there are many different approaches to train them to stop this behavior. The three measures for cleanliness education described below are therefore not suitable for all cats. If you are unsure what is behind the unclean behavior of your cat, you should consult a veterinarian and if necessary a cat psychologist- ask for advice. The veterinarian can also examine your cat thoroughly and exclude the possibility that a disease is the trigger for the "foreign urination" is.
Three measures for the cleanliness education of the cat
Increase the attractiveness of the litter box: Cats are very clean animals by nature. If they leave their business in places other than the litter box, this is often due to the fact that they simply reject the litter box. This refusal can have different causes:
- Cat litter box is cleaned too seldom (dirty cat litter)
- Litter box is not easily accessible (closed door, too high rim)
- Refusal to use cat litter (too hard, too soft, or a new, unfamiliar type?)
- Too few litter boxes for the number of cats living in the house (in multi-cat households, it is recommended to set up a separate toilet for each cat in case of uncleanliness)
- Unfavorable location (is the litter box in the hallway, where there is traffic and the cat can not withdraw enough, is it in a room that the cat does not like to enter?)
- Wrong cleaning agent (use too strong or foul-smelling cleaners and disinfectants? Many fur noses do not like this chemical stench and therefore avoid the litter box.)
Use positive reinforcement: Cats respond to rewards more than reprimands. Punishing your cat for peeing in the plant will frighten and unsettle him. This would tend to reinforce the undesirable behavior. Instead, reward your cat when she- Instead of planting- has used the litter box. It is important that the reward is given in the same moment. Cats live in the here and now and relate praise resp. A punishment always on the situation just experienced. Of course you should not interrupt her doing her business, but hand her- as soon as it is ready- a tasty cat snack, pet her or entice her with her favorite cat toy.
Increase the cat’s well-being: A stressed cat is more prone to uncleanliness and marking behavior than one that is completely at ease. And even if it’s not fear, stress or insecurity behind your cat’s behavior, you certainly can’t go wrong with the following feel-good tips:
- Give your cat attention: even though many cats are free spirits, they love their humans and are happy when they give them love and attention. Plan a little play with your cat every day and take time for demanded cuddling sessions.
- Dispel boredom: Bored cats can become obnoxious. A large scratching and climbing tree and good cat toys in the apartment are good for keeping playful and agile velvet paws on their toes. If you have an outdoor cat at home, let it out during the day whenever it asks for it.
- Avoid stressful situations: Cats are creatures of habit. Frequent changes in daily routine, traveling, a move, loud parties with many strangers, new food or new furniture unsettle many cats. Therefore, provide as much reliability and continuity as possible and create fixed retreats for your pet.
- Pay attention to your cat’s needs: even though cats can’t talk, they try to make us understand their needs in a different way. If you observe your cat, you will soon find out what she wants to achieve with her behavior. If she is hungry? Does she need a stroke? Does she want to be entertained? Or does she want to roam outside and hunt for mice?
Good things take time
Of course, the deterrent, re-education, and feel-good measures described here will take time to have the desired effect. Do not expect your cat to change its behavior overnight. Especially cats, for whom urinating in the potted plants and flower beds has become a regular habit, will have a hard time if they are suddenly asked to refrain from doing so. Be patient with your cat and do not scold him if he mistakes the flower bed for the litter box.
We wish you and your cat a harmonious and "clean" life Living together!