How To Get a Cat to Stop Pooping in Potted Plants

Cat with potted plant
Pooping in potted plants is a bad habit which some cats unfortunately pick up at some point during their lives. In addition to being yucky, pooping in potted plants is also bad for the plants, and it can indicate that your cat has a medical problem which needs to be addressed. Getting the cat to stop pooping in the wrong place is the first step, but if the cat continues to exhibit unusual behavior, it may be time for a trip to the vet.

Step 1

Make it harder to poop in your plants. One of the best ways to keep cats out of potted plants is to cover the soil with heavy river rocks, or sharp gravel. These textures are not pleasant for prying paws, and they can dissuade the cat from turning up the dirt to poop.

If putting stones in your plants doesn't work, you can try a cat mat, a flexible mat with small spikes which is actually designed to keep cats out of the garden. The mat won't hurt the cat, but it will make your potted plants an undesirable environment. You can also use skewers in your pots to keep your cats from jumping into them.

Step 2

Repel your cats. Use a feline repellant on or around your houseplants to discourage the cats from using the area. You might also want to consider moving houseplants around so that the cat doesn't venture back to familiar territory. If you spot your cat slinking towards a houseplant, slap your hands or slap the floor to frighten it, encouraging it to seek a more acceptable pooping venue.

Step 3

Take a look at the litter box. Is your cat using the potted plants because they are more convenient than the litter box? If the litterbox is in a weird spot, or it's not kept clean, your cat may choose to use an alternate bathroom. Make sure that access to the litterbox is unimpeded, and keep the litterbox as clean as possible.

If you have multiple cats, there should be a litterbox available to each cat; some cats don't like to use the litterbox after other cats, so they opt for houseplants instead.

Step 4

Is there a new cat in the house? A new cat might be passing the bad habit on to your cats, especially if the cat is used to pooping outdoors, or if it was poorly looked-after in a previous home. If you have multiple cats, you might want to isolate the new cat for a few days to see if that resolves the problem, and then work on teaching the new cat not to use houseplants as toilets.

Step 5

Examine your cat's habits. Sometimes, unusual behavior is a sign of a medical problem. If cats are pooping and peeing outside the litterbox, it can suggest that they have an infection or another problem which warrants medical attention. If the measures above don't work, make an appointment with the vet to discuss the situation. Always call a vet if your cat begins to pass blood, act extremely distressed, or behave erratically.


If your cat starts pooping in the houseplants, fast action often resolves the situation quickly, before it becomes a habit. Keep on top of your cats to avoid the growth of bad habits, and always consult a vet about medical issues.

s.e. smith is a connoisseur of literature, adventures, and fine food who loves sharing knowledge with others and putting her otherwise marginally useful liberal arts degree to good use.
 

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