41 answers

How Do I Stop Cats from Peeing in My Plants?

Hello everyone,
I need help stopping my cats from peeing in my indoor potted plants. The first time it happened I thought it was because the door to where their litter box is was closed accidentally. I has thankful they went in the plant and not on my carpet. I have been careful not to block access to the litter box, but they keep doing it. Twice today alone. Is there a product I can put in the soil and not hurt the plant. It is a large corn plant (I think that is what it is called anyway) and I am trying to avoid having to repot it. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance.

I just found this website about a week ago and am totally addicted!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to all who responded. I got way more than I ever expected. I think we fixed the problem, knock on wood. I could not repot the plant completely, (it is way to big to do by myself and my partner was away on a business trip all that week). So I changed as much dirt out as I could. Then I toped it with the lava rocks so many recommended. I put the rocks in my other pots too, just in case. I did see one of the cats jump into the plant and look down like "What the heck is this stuff?", then jump out. So it looks to be working.

On a funny note: My partner watered the plant last night and then pointed out the wet stones to me. When I started to get upset at the cats, she started laughing and told me it was just water. Maybe I'll get her back by "watering" her pillow tonight.

Featured Answers

Cayenne pepper works for outdoors, so I don't know why it wouldn't works with inside plants.

I just saw the responses. :o)

Peace Love Stardove

Oh my! I had this problem with my cat also. I tried everything and nothing worked. Then my mom said she read somewhere that cats hate the smell of Moth Balls (I do too) but I placed them around the pot and it worked. The cat is 15 yrs old and has not used the plants in years.

Growing up when a cat would do this we would put ammonia all around the top of the pot, cats hate the smell. I have also heard of using the red pepper like others have also mentioned. Hope this helps.

More Answers

Believe it or not - mothballs are toxic (and they stink).

Here's a few organic and safe things to try:
Go to a local garden center and purchase a small bag of lava rock, or lava gravel (not lava sand). This works indoors and out for deterring cats and even squirrels from entering planted areas when you tops dress the soil with the lava gravel. The animals do not like to walk on the rough texture.

You can also try pecan shell mulch - it is very, very sharp and pokey. In extreme cases, you can put rose bush clippings around the base of the plants - one stick from a rogue thorn and kitty will move on.

I've had success with all 3 of these methods.

1 mom found this helpful

A few years back I adopted a cat that started to do her business in my plants. I knew I had to act quickly or this would be a hard habit to break. Also, we wouldn't have been able to keep her if she continued the undesirable behavior. First I re-potted the plants to get rid of the scent. (It is good to re-pot your plants every once in a while anyway to give your plants fresh nutrients.) After I re-potted the plants, I covered the fresh soil with pretty river rocks. It worked like a charm. Since my cat couldn't scratch the soil (like a cat does after going to the bathroom) she was no longer interested in using the plants as her litter box. We went to a landscaping company and got the larger, different colored, polished rocks. They look great in my plants and have solved the problem.

First, re-pot the plants. Otherwise they won't stop, they will still be able smell their scent even if you can't.

Then try red-pepper. It works for me outdoors for dogs that like to poop around my mailbox. It's cheap.

A friend of mine used bars of soap to discourage her cats from crawling in places they shouldn't go....

But I'd try the pepper first. It won't hurt the plant.

I had this same problem several years ago and I still have cats. First I took the plant outside and ran a lot of water through it to make sure the urine was washed out then (after it dried out some) I "mulched" the ficus with smooth river rocks about the size of a ping pong ball. The cats can't dig in the dirt of the plant now and have left it alone for years. Good Luck

Try putting rocks over the top of the soil. That stopped our cats because thay could not dig. You can get the smooth decorative ones at a garden center or even the craft/floral section at Wal-Mart or Target. My plants still get the water they need and have been thriving that way for years now. I did not even have to repot mine. The cats couldn't dig and stopped.


Change the soil in the plants and then put mesh screen around the soil. They don't like the feel of it on their paws but you need to get rid of the odor first.

My mom used to put mothballs in her plants and flower beds.

My mom used to put orange peels in the plants. They dont like the smell of them. She would put them on the car at night to keep from having kitty paw prints on her freshly washed car too! Good Luck!

Cover the soil with lava rocks, white marble rocks or other similar sized decorative landscape rocks. I had a cat that did this a few years ago and I used the marble rocks. It worked perfectly. The rocks were too heavy to dig in.

Hi W.! Go to your local pet store or even your local nurserie and ask if they have ever heard of a product called "Pet No". You spray it around the perimeter of your plants, and it repells both dogs and cats. I used to use it all the time, and it worked wonderfully! Good Luck.

I put lava rock in the top of my indoor plants - the cats HATE the feel & leave the plants alone!

Good luck,

Well, short of repotting the plants to get rid of the scent, I have one idea. What if you got that netting that is for outside flwer beds to prevent weeds? That way they cannot dig in the dirt and you can still water the plants. You would only need to leave it on until the behavior stopped.

Good luck, cats are pretty smart so you may have to put the plant in an inaccessible area for a while.

Hi, one thing you can do is buy some large river rocks from the craft section at wal mart or target or other craft stores and place them on top of your soil in the pot covering all the soil. the cat wont get in there because the soil will be covered. but you need to get the large rocks not little ones that the cat can just move away with her paws. I suggest you might want to repot it before you put the rocks on the top because once they pee somewhere its really hard to get them to leave that spot alone again. you can try it with out doing that but if she still bothers that plant you may need new dirt and pot as well to get rid of the scent...this has worked for me.

Good luck-

Once they start peeing in a spot, they can develop a preference for that surface pretty quickly. Be glad it's plants - when our cats were kittens, they developed a preference for our comforter!

I put rocks on top of the soil in all my indoor plants, and that took care of it. The surface they like is completely hidden. You can get a great big bag of garden rocks at Lowe's or Home Depot for about $3, or you can get smooth stones at Hobby Lobby, Pier1, etc.

This should do the trick, and it also looks nicer than the bare dirt, I think.

Good luck!

Cover the soil with aluminum foil either in sheets or in big balls of foil.

Cayenne pepper works for outdoors, so I don't know why it wouldn't works with inside plants.

I just saw the responses. :o)

Peace Love Stardove

Place pine cones in the plant container. Your cats will not want to step on them.

I try to put rocks and things around the bottom so that the dirt is covered and the cats lose interest.

P. O.

W. go to Sam's or Wal Mart and get a large container of chili powder. I've used it for years and it really works. Like everything else though, when it rains or if you run the sprinklers, you have to re apply. But it's cheap and it non-chemical so it won't hurt the cats or your kids.

I know this sounds crazy but I just read it in a home improvement magazine. The suggested puting coffee grounds in the flower beds/pots. We tried it in our back yard and so far so good.

i've always been told to put lemon, orange, etc peels in the plants b/c the cats don't like the smell... not srue if it really works. but guess its worth a shot.

Sorry W., but the best way to stop this is to repot the plant. The cats probably did use the plant originally because the liter box was blocked but now they smell where they have gone before & will keep doing it. Another alternative is to put citrus rinds (lemon, lime or orange) in the dirt. Cats are not fans of the smell of citrus oils & will usually avoid it. Rocks on the top of the soil may also help. However, with their scent already present these still may not work without your first repotting the plant.

BTW, mothballs are toxic & can not only make your cats ill (or worse), they can also harm your children.

Best of luck to you!

Hi W. -

my mom always used to put orange and lemon peels in the pots (she read it somewhere)- the cats don't like it and it won't harm the plants or soil.

Hope that helps!

Hello W. ,I have found that if you put pinecones in the plants they wont go to the bathroom in them it hurts there butts lol Good Luck C. R. Bowie Texas

Hi W.,

I had the same problem with my 2 cats and I was told to try putting small to med. size rocks in the pots on top of the soil and it worked like a charm, however I did add one other thing I lined the pot on top of the soil with landscapers cloths so the soil and rocks did not mix and it keeps it from looking messy and muddy then the rocks, you can still water it with no problem and the cats do not like to dig and do there business in the rocks.also before you do all this it is best to re pot the plant and wash the roots off to get rid of any smell and it will keep your plant from having urine burns.
Hope this helps it did for me.


Hi W.,
I recommend covering the soil with foil for a couple of weeks to get the point across. Then you can put coarse lava rocks on top of the soil because cats hate to step on these.
On the cat side it's a good idea to have one litter box per cat so that they don't go seeking a plant to make their own.
Good luck
T. C (veterinarian:))


We always used red pepper, but that was outside. When the cats lick their paws, it's hot, they eventually stay away from it. It doesn't hurt the plants. I would be careful with the two year old. Do your kids go around the plants? I know my cats and dogs loved the soil. I don't know what it is about it, but they LOVE IT. Good luck.


Hi W.,

I'm not sure if this will hurt the plants or not, but my mother had suggested putting moth balls in my yard, because all the neighborhood cats like to use my lawn and flower bed for a litter box. It seems to be working so far. Good luck.

Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper on the soil of the plant. The cats will stay out and there will be no harm to the plant.

Oh my! I had this problem with my cat also. I tried everything and nothing worked. Then my mom said she read somewhere that cats hate the smell of Moth Balls (I do too) but I placed them around the pot and it worked. The cat is 15 yrs old and has not used the plants in years.

Sometimes peeing in odd places mean that the cat is either sick (urinary infection type of stuff) or they are unhappy with the cleanliness of their box. As they get older they can get more picky with their box so even when you clean it every day they may be unhappy after they have been once. I would suggest taking your cat to the vet just to make sure nothing is wrong along with some of the suggestions below. Good Luck!

Hi W., my name is T.. I have three indoor cats and as you know sometimes they can be very tempermental. If there are any changes to your enviroment, ex: someone new to the house or someone moving out, new home, so manythings can cause their behavior. If the cat has a bladder infection or if it's not clean enough then it will go outside the litter box, but for some reason he's begging for your attention. Anyways, vinegar is great for this problem. It works if he's a scratcher too. Cats hate this smell. It works for me, so hopefully it will for you too. Good luck!!!

I had the same problem several years ago - a friend told me you put Mothballs in the flower beds - It doesn't smell very flowery, but after a while the cats stopped visiting my yard.
Good luck.

I put pine cones in my big plants so my cat couldn't get in it. It worked. Also, Pepper - don't like the smell or the taste in their paws.

Put red pepper or garlic in your plants. Cats don't like either one.

Try lining the top of the soil with aluminum foil. That will sometimes keep cats from stepping on it because they don't like how it feels on their feet.

You either sprinkle crushed red peppers or cayanne pepper in and around them they will smell it one time and burn there little noses alittle but it wont hurt them and they wont bother them anymore.


Put cayene pepper on the soil (they hate the smell) and/or sprinkle pecan shell mulch on the top as they won't stand up there because of the pokes they will get on their paws. I do it in my flower beds outside all the time to keep the neighborhood cats from doing their business in my yard and it works like a charm!

I have heard that if you put used coffee grounds in pantyhose and put them where you don't want your cat to pee it will keep them away!

I have heard that if you dust the plants and surrounding areas with cayenne pepper that it will keep the unwanted pets at bay! Hope it helps!

Growing up when a cat would do this we would put ammonia all around the top of the pot, cats hate the smell. I have also heard of using the red pepper like others have also mentioned. Hope this helps.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.