20 June 2024
fluffy Ginger cat lying on the top of an indoor plant pot, surrounded by black and white plants

How do I stop my cat using plant pots as a toilet?

Argh! Little Tibby’s only gone and peed in the plant pot again!

If your plants have fallen victim to this ‘foul behaviour’ (see what I did there), fear not—help is here!

It makes sense to begin by exploring why your cat is using plants pots as a toilet, and then move on to preventative measures to stop this behaviour. By identifying the underlying reason why your cat has decided it’s okay to urinate in your plants, you’ll be in a better position to prevent the habit from worsening.

Why the heck is my cat using plant pots as a toilet, and not the litter tray?

Okay, so firstly, let’s look at the potential reasons for this behaviour:

  1. The cat may be dissatisfied with their current toilet options.
    Ask yourself…
    • are there enough litter trays – at least one per cat, even if they have outdoor access?
    • is their litter tray kept wonderfully clean and odour-free?
    • are they happy with the size and type of litter tray (with lid, with no lid etc.)?
    • is their litter tray positioned in a suitable spot?
    • do they approve of your choice of litter?
  2. If the pusscat has access to the great outdoors, they could be associating the soil in your pot with their ‘outdoor toilet’
  3. Could kitty be feeling stressed by
    • other cats?
    • loud noises?
    • a changed home environment?
  4. Physical health
    • if you have noticed physical or behavioural changes in your cat recently, why not give the vet a quick call.
  5. The cat is a mere opportunist
    • perhaps our little feline compadre spotted a good looking, defenseless plant & just couldn’t resist.

Actions points to stop your cat defecating in the plant pots.

  • if you catch them in the act, demonstrate your disappointment with a stern word (avoid shouting)
  • remove and replace the soiled earth
  • block their access to the soil (see below for suggestions)
  • move your plant pot out of kitty’s reach eg. on a shelf or hang from ceiling, if you can
  • reassess their toilet options
  • when they use their litter tray correctly, praise them verbally in a calm but upbeat tone. Also consider:
    • stroking them
    • giving them a treat
    • playing with them, using a favourite toy
  • implement a plan to reduce kitty’s stress levels
    • reduce or preferably eradicate their exposure to loud noises
    • buy some calming spray or plug-ins

What should I avoid doing when trying to stop my cat from using the plants as a toilet?

Although it may not feel like it right now, it is totally possible for cats, plants and humans to have a successful symbiotic relationship. Just like us humans, felines are susceptible to stress, which can lead to behavioural issues, like pooping in plant pots. With this in mind, I suggest you avoid:

  • shouting at the cat
  • spraying the cat with water… or anything else, for that matter
  • using motion sensor alarms to scare the cat away
  • scolding the cat sometime after the incident, as they won’t understand what it is they have done wrong

To avoid more harm to the plant, I would also avoid using cat-deterrent spray on the soil, unless you’re absolutely certain that it won’t cause damage.

Effective ideas for blocking access to the soil

Right! Now we’re on to the fun part.
In my seasoned opinion, your best option to deter pussycat from reoffending, is to simply block their access to the soil. Having come across all sorts of methods over the years, I’ve decided to cherry pick 6 of my favourites for you:

1. Giant pebbles & big stones

rock in palm plant pot. Use big stones or pebbles to cover the soil
Photo by Tilly ©purrplex.com

If you are able to get hold of some large stones, great! Obviously, they don’t need to be quite as big as the one in my pic, but definitely avoid using small stones or gravel, as pusscat may feel inclined to just dig them up and…

2. Chicken wire

old roll of chicken wire. Cover your plant pot in this and the cat won't dig up the soil to use for urinating
Photo by Tilly ©purrplex.com

If you don’t happen to have some of this knocking around, you should be able to source some quite easily.
Before buying, it may be an idea to ask friends and neighbours, or scour the web for freebies on sites like nextdoor and freecycle.

Tilly Tips:

  • curve the edges inwards and under to eliminate chances of being scratched when passing by
  • make sure there’s enough space for growth around the stem of the plant

This worked a treat for one of my big indoor plants that Bliss had decided to poop in.
Not only was this easy peasy to water, but—would you believe—after a few months I removed it… and haven’t had to deal with any repeat fouling. Hurrah!

3. Logs or kindling

outdoor log piles come in handy when you want to use some for covering the soil in a plant pot. A cat wouldn't be able to get to the soil to use as a toilet.
Photo by Tilly ©purrplex.com

The advantage of logs and kindling is that they look natural and can be split to size.
One disadvantage is that if kept damp for long periods, you may find that firewood grows mold or fungi.
You can always remove them to water the plant though.

3. Pine cones

pine cones look lovely stacked up in a plant pot, to stop a cat from defecating in the indoor plants
Photo of Mum’s hands by Tilly ©purrplex.com

A purrplex favourite! Not only do they look wonderful piled up in a flower pot, but they’re also pretty easy to come by. In fact, the ones being modelling for us in the pic above, were collected on a recent Wiltshire walk.

4. Broken pots, tiles or bricks

old broken roof tiles arranged at an angle will stop your cat using your plant as a toilet
Photo by Tilly ©purrplex.com

If you can find any broken pots, tiles or bricks, I suggest positioning them at angles so water can drain through… and watch out for any sharp edges!

5. Expanding wooden trellis

an expanding wooden trellis is a handy way to block your cat's access to the plant pot soil to wee or poo in it

All you’ll need to do is cut the trellis to accommodate the stem of your plant, et voilà, cat-proofing done!

6. More plants!

adding more plants like these, will stop your cat from being able to access the plant pot to use as a toilet

Ingenious, right?!
All you need to do is fill the pot with smaller pots of flowers or plants. Just be sure that you choose cat-friendly ones such as these. Simple.

Even more ideas for covering that soil!

Don’t worry if you’re struggling to get hold of any of the items in my list above, you’ll probably find something else at home that will do the trick just fine. Why not have a root around and see what other anti-fouling treasures you can unearth!

  • old crockery
  • chopsticks or forks poked into the soil vertically – be careful not to harm the roots
  • an off-cut of lino or astroturf – make sure to cut sufficient holes for ‘breathing’ and drainage
  • aluminium foil – gently scrunched over the soil
  • old CDs

Over to you!

I guess it’s time to wish you the best of luck with your plant saving venture! I’d love to hear how it goes!

Also, if you have any anti-plant-pot-fouling tricks up your sleeve that you think the world should know about, please do share them in the comments below. 

Thanks!! xX

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