Here’s How to Keep Cats From Pooping in House Plants

How to Keep Cats From Pooping in House Plants

If your cat(s) are using your potted plant pots as a litter box it can be incredibly annoying and frustrating.

Trust me, I’ve had to resolve this problem more than once over the years. I totally understand your frustration.

The good news is, I’ve always been able to correct this behavior fairly easily.

So, don’t throw out all your house plants just yet – with the following tips, I’m sure you’ll be able to correct this behavior.

How to Keep Cats From Pooping in House Plants

There are two main ways you can stop cats from going somewhere you don’t want them to.

These are:

  • By using scents they don’t like
  • By using textures they don’t like

Cats have an extremely powerful sense of smell and are led by their noses for the most part.

They also have to stand on things with their sensitive paws, so you can go after either or both of these senses.

Here are some of the most effective ways to do this:

Using Scents Cats Hate

Using Scents Cats Hate

First of all, I have to throw out a disclaimer. All cats are different, and some are much more resistant (stubborn) than others when it comes to reacting to scents.

With that said, it’s worth trying one or more of the following as these are scents cats are known to hate:


Citrus smells are one of the classic home remedies for keeping cats away from an area. I remember as a kid my neighbor would put chunks of orange in her flowerbeds, and I assume it worked.

There are several ways you can go about this. You can use essential oils, which are concentrated oils made from citrus plants and fruits, or bits of raw fruits.

Try either scattering some peels or pieces of citrus fruit, like oranges, grapefruits, and limes. Or make a spray comprising of water and citrus and spray that around your plants.

RelatedHow to use orange peels to deter cats.

Strong Herbs

There are some strong-smelling herbs that will make cats turn the other way. The best part about using herbs is that you can choose the ones you like the smell of too!

Some herbs known to offend a cat’s nose are:

  • Lavender
  • Rue
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Eucalyptus

Again, there are a number of ways you can work with herbs. As long as the smell is present around your plants you’ll soon enough find out if your cat hates the smell or not.

Scents cats dislike and hate lavender
Personally, I love lavender, how about you?

Strong Spices

There are a number of spices that also have a strong smell. Some are overwhelming for us, just think how strong it must smell to your cat.

Some of the spices known to repel cats include:

  • Black pepper
  • Curry
  • Mustard
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric

Spices actually fulfill both methods of deterring cats I’m covering in this post.

You can sprinkle spice powder on surfaces your cat will have to walk on to get into your plants. (This is also a good way to keep cats off your car)

They’ll then end up licking it, and this will give them quite the shock.

Just be sure not to be too cruel. A little powder should do the trick. My dad used this technique to stop his neighbor’s cats going into his greenhouse and pooping and it worked instantly.

RelatedRead this for tips on how to stop your neighbor’s cats coming into your home.

Some Other Options

If you don’t have or don’t want to try any of the above, some other scents worth exploring are pet deterrent sprays, pine cones, and coffee granules.

Using Textures Cats Hate

Using Textures Cats Hate to Keep Them Away from Plants

As I mentioned above, cats also have sensitive paws and will avoid walking on surfaces they do not like the feel of.

This is a more disruptive way to deter cats, but some people find it more effective.

Plus, once your cat has started leaving your plants alone you should be able to stop using deterrents.

Some of the things you can try includes:

Aluminum Foil

This is one of the most common materials I hear people talking about as a way of deterring cats. It works for a lot of people, so it’s worth trying first.

Just lay some foil around your plant pot or on a ledge they’re using to gain access. As long as they have to stand on it to get the plant, it should work.

I’ve seen videos of cats literally springing into the air when standing on foil. There’s something about the feel and the sound that they really do not like.


Obviously you don’t want to cover a large area with Vaseline. If you can place strategically on spots where your cat needs to stand, however, slipping around will make them think twice.

They also have to clean it off their paws. This could get a little messy if they also tread in mud, so be ready for a cleanup job.


I touched on this above when using spices to deter cats. If the smell isn’t enough to make them think twice, getting some pepper on their paws and licking it off might.

Sticky Tape

I’ve used double-sided sticky tape to stop one of my cats from pawing at my window before.

She would paw away at the same spot making an annoying screeching noise, so I just put a strip up.

You can also use it where cats will walk to make them think twice. It’s not strong enough to hurt them or cause them to get stuck. But it’s annoying enough to stop them from hanging around.

Some Other Things to Consider

If you try some of the things I detailed above, I’m sure you’ll be able to stop your cat from pooping or urinating in your house plant pots and bases.

This might not be enough to solve the issue of your cat not using their litter box though. You don’t just want to redirect your cat to go somewhere else, you want them to use their box.

You might have to also find out why they’re not using their box, and so something to ensure they start doing so.

I’ve covered this in more detail before. I recommend reading; why your cat has stopped using their litter box, and do you really need two or more litter boxes.

In summary, however, you’ll need to:

  • Introduce them to their box and make sure they have easy access to it
  • Place more than one box in the home while you’re training them to use it
  • Try a different litter if there seems to be a reason why they aren’t using it
  • Make sure it’s super clean at all times

I’m sure you’re aware that litter feels very different from soil. Most notably, it’s not as soft as soil.

Your current brand of litter might be too rough for your cat’s sensitive paws if they went from their box to your plants.

Find the softest litter with a fine consistency when transitioning them from the feeling of soil to litter.

Please let me know what you did or how you get on if you’re dealing with this issue right now. I’d love to hear about it, and it might just help out some other members of the community too.


Image credits – Header photo by Micheile Henderson, citrus and chili Photo by S O C I A L . C U T, and plant and cat photo by Qin Rong on Unsplash

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