Can’t get your cat to stop chewing on your houseplants? Well, you are far from alone. We have had multiple clients come in lately who mention their cat just can’t get enough of their houseplants! Unfortunately many common houseplants are toxic, if not deadly, to cats.
The best option for stopping your cat from chewing is to remove the desired plant. You will lose some of the aesthetics of your home, but you may in turn, save your cat from an emergency room visit.
Let’s say for the sake of a full length blog post, that you don’t want to just move your plants outside. Instead you want to keep your room’s lush, green ambiance and opt for some alternatives.
Alternative ways to deter your cat from chewing on house plants:
-Spray the leaves with an undesirable flavor.
If this is the route you choose to take there are options: Either buy a pre-made spray such as Bitter Apple or make your own. If you choose the DIY route, might we recommend a little cayenne pepper mixed with water, orange oil spray, or vinegar mixed with lemon juice and water. These deterring cocktails can be periodically sprayed on the plant’s leaves to discourage your cat.
Another option is SSSCAT, a motion-activated deterrent device, which emits a short burst of air when your cat approaches.
-Create a barrier
If you do not like the idea of cayenne-flavored foliage, but want to keep the cat away from your plants, consider creating some sort of barrier to keep them a part. Consider putting the plant on a shelf the cat cannot get to, or in a taller pot (if the plant is more tree- like, this may help put the leaves out of reach). You may need to get a bit creative with this option, but done right, you can keep your cat and your plants safe.
-Distract, distract, distract
Give your cat alternatives to chew on. Catnip, cat mint, and lemongrass are all safe and ambiance-friendly options. They can be purchased at some pet stores and also at some higher end grocery stores. Place them around your house where your cat likes to hang out and chew.
It is normal behavior for some cats to chew on plants and as many as one third of all cats eat small amounts of grass or other plant material. If you have toxic plants in your house, be sure to keep them out of reach by removing them altogether or following the tips above. Also be sure and check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants.
If you notice your cat is salivating, vomiting, lethargic, has a swollen tongue, or trouble breathing, be aware that ingestion of a poisonous plant is a possibility. Call your veterinarian immediately if these symptoms are occurring.
We’ve said it before, dogs need to be stimulated through both human contact and toys. As annoying as it can be to have balls and soggy teddy bears throughout your house, these toys give your pet important stimulation, help their minds stay sharp, and offer a distraction for when you are not available.
Living in a consumer-driven environment, toys are not always created with your pet’s best interest at heart. Many toys can be unintentionally dangerous to your pet. There is little to no regulation on the pet toy industry, as most regulating bodies want proof of potential harm to humans, not just harm to dogs and cats. We want to be sure that your pet’s toys are both fun and safe. If they are also cute, cool, and trendy, then all the better!
Our doctors recommend the following when purchasing toys:
-Rubber or plastic that can be easily dented with your fingernail
-Choose toys that fit your pet’s lifestyle, not just their size
-If they “shred and eat” their toys, they will need a toy that is impossible to make into tiny pieces (no hard plastics or plush toys unsupervised).
-If they are more gentle and don’t try to eat their toys, something a bit softer may be appropriate.
-Make sure toys are large enough not to make their way to the back of your pet’s mouth. Toys that are too small can become a choking hazard.
A bit of a unique company, Jolly Pets makes toys for all types of dogs, chewers and cuddlers alike. If you go to San Diego dog parks and beaches regularly, you may have seen someone with a giant red ball with a rope through it, and their dog going nuts to play with it. These toys are fantastic for the all-terrain (and water) pet. Be sure to also check out their line of zoo toys, for that special tiger in your life (no really…they make toys for zoos).
A bit more of a newcomer to the dog toy scene, Bionic offers a great money back rebate if your pet manages to destroy the toy (no really it’s true!). Needless to say, their toys are basically indestructible.
If you are eco-conscious or just want an awesome toy for your pet, check out Planet Dog. This brand makes everything from supervision-needed plush toys to tough rubber toys to the new and trendy “puzzle” toys. The best part? The company has a great sense of humor -check out their artichoke and eggplant chew toys!
Although this list is looking mainly at the toys that are safe for even the toughest chewers, this is not to say your pet can’t have a great plush, cuddly toy. We just recommend constant supervision with anything soft enough to tear a hole in. The minute a hole appears, the toy gets thrown away.
If your pet does manage to eat the fluff or strings that make up plush toys, there is a good chance that you will be spending a night at the emergency hospital having the once cuddly toy removed in pieces from their stomach (check out our blog post on crazy things pet’s have ingested and why it can be very dangerous).
How to avoid constantly buying new toys:
If you are like many of us, the idea of spending tons of money on toys to entertain your pooch is less than ideal. A great way to keep toys budget friendly, while still having enough to keep your dog stimulated, is to rotate them out of use. Give your pet one or two toys at a time, keeping a few others in storage. Then when your pet seems played out with one toy, trade it out for a “new” one.
Nellie loves her feline friends just as much as her canine friends. She and Dr. Halsey were recently whipping up some yummy treats for her good cat-friend, Annie. Nellie and Dr. Halsey wanted to share the recipe with everyone.
Nellie’s Chewy Cat Chews
1 large egg
1 4-oz jar meat-based baby food (chicken and rice or turkey)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 cup barley flour (you may need a little more or less)
1/2 cup cooked white (or brown) rice
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, baby food (or wet cat food), olive oil, and water. Add brown rice flour and cooked rice. Stir to incorporate.
The mixture will be thick but spreadable (think thick peanut butter). If you end up with too thick of a dough, add more water. If too thin (we’re talking chews not milkshakes, humans) add more flour.
Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet creating a rectangle that is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then slice soft dough into bite-sized pieces.
Return pieces to the oven to bake for another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Nellie adapted this recipe from: Joy the Baker (a favorite baking blog of hers)