Metzger: My roommate’s cat and my plants

My roommate’s cat Ajax lounging in front of some of my plants.

Logan Metzger

Hey all, so as I wrote a couple weeks ago, I have a lot of plants, close to 30 in fact. However, my roommate also has a cat. 

I love my roommate and I love this cat. He is a beautiful little man named Ajax, but the cat tends to try and eat my plants quite often. So often, in fact, that I have decided to dedicate this week’s column to this issue.

This cat and I spend a lot of time together — since I tend to be the de facto babysitter while his mom is off at work. He naps in my bed, he watches me play video games and he even stalks my betta fish. So what isn’t to love about him? Not much, because he is a good boy, EXCEPT when he attacks my plants.

These small green living things are MY babies. I am a gay man, so these are the closest I can get to an actual child at this point in my life. I water them, I repot them as needed, I mist them when they look droopy and I move them around into the sunlight to keep them happy. I care for them because I love them, and when the cat knocks one onto the floor or claws at one’s leaves or tears my succulents’ heads off, I tend to get upset.

Just today, the cat managed to knock a pot out of its hanger, a hanger that was 3 feet off the ground and holding two cacti and three jade plants. Luckily all plants and the cat are OK, but I am still amazed at how he accomplished this, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

This column is not here to drag my roommate or say that cats and plants cannot coexist together, it is here to share some recommendations I have found about how to keep cats out of plants. My goal is to come back and update this column as I try new things to see if they work.

Also, a side note before we get into the different techniques: we do regularly spray him with water when he gets into the plants and he gets upset and gets away from them, but it doesn’t seem to stop him (same thing when he jumps onto our kitchen counters), so that’s why I have started these new techniques.

Citrus

The first technique that I will be trying is citrus. 

“Cats have a strong distaste for anything citrus. Using either juice of a lemon, lime, or orange diluted with some water can be sprayed on the leaves of your plant to ward off any feline invasion,” according to the Preventive Vet website. “Usually, if your cat decides the smell is not enough to stop them, the taste will do the trick. That bitter taste keeps them from a return trip.”

I have bought lemon juice and I have mixed in a spray bottle and have started spraying my plants with it, yet as I stated above he still got into some of my plants, so maybe I need to change up my mixture or spray them more. Only time will tell, I guess.

The Gardening Know How website recommends putting orange and lemon peels directly in your pots along with the plants to help deter cats, so I may have to also try this.

I will come back in a week and update this column with my progress on this and if this technique doesn’t work I will move onto the next one.

Unpleasant surroundings

The second technique I will be trying is to make the area surrounding my plants unpleasant for the cat to exist in.

“A few loosely placed tin-foil plates can create a racket if knocked over, for example,” according to The Practical Planter website. “You might have to get creative, depending on the area where you have your plants. This technique may need to be reset each day though.”

So I will be doing just that, I already own aluminum foil, so I just need to get the paper or Styrofoam plates and then place those around the area my plants are in. 

Hopefully it will do the trick, otherwise, I will be onto step three.

Moving the plants

The final technique I found is not really as much of a technique as it is just plain defeat: moving my plants.

I like where my plants are. They are in a bright sunny spot with varying degrees of sunshine as the day goes by, and they really add a sense of life to the space they are in now.

However, if the other techniques do not work, I will be forced to move them to my bedroom where there is a door that I can shut to keep the cat out. The only downside is that the sunlight from my bedroom window is not as great as the living room window, but they will survive, and that’s more important to me than the aesthetic of having a green living room.

Wish me luck on these endeavors and check back in a week to see if I have to move on to technique two or not.

If you have any suggestions other than the ones I have listed here, please email me at [email protected]