Cat pee can kill plants if the cat frequently urinates in the same area. It affects potted plants more than it does those in the ground.
To save your plants, wash away the cat pee away with plenty of water and then use a humane deterrent to keep the cat out of your plants in the future.
Sometimes, cats and plants just don’t get along. Whether your cat is peeing in your plant pot, or your neighbor’s cat is doing their business in your garden, you might be worried about cat pee and its effects on your plants.
We cannot expect cats to know not to urinate in potted plants or flower beds, because they naturally like to bury their waste. Soil makes a great litterbox!
To keep cats out of your garden or houseplants, you’ll need to make use of humane deterrents, which I will discuss more in-depth below.
Cat Pee can Kill Plants in High Amounts
While a cat peeing in your garden or potted plant once probably won’t kill it, continued urination will eventually kill most plants.
This is because cat urine acts as a fertilizer of sorts. It contains minerals that aren’t bad for your plant but, in excess, can harm plants the same as fertilizer burn. If the roots are burnt too badly, the plant may not be able to recover.
One way to help your plant is to rinse out the cat pee from the pot. Do this by watering the potted plant until water is coming from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Repeat this a few times to ensure it’s been thoroughly rinsed.
Outdoors in the ground or in garden beds, use a hose to saturate the soil thoroughly to dilute the urine and wash as much of it as possible away from your plants.
If you’re grossed out by the thought of keeping the old soil, or it smells even after being rinsed, you can replace your plant’s soil and throw the old stuff in the trash.
Even if you’re washing away the urine, you’ll probably still want to take measures to prevent the cat from peeing in your plants again. Below, I’ll discuss some ways to do this.
Potted Plants are more likely to die from Cat Urine
Different plants will suffer in different amounts when peed on by cats. In addition to this, plants grown in containers are more likely to die from cat urine than those in the ground or raised beds.
This is because the pots have limited amounts of soil in them, so the urine won’t disperse the same as it could in other situations.
The urine will be contained to that one space, and so will have a greater effect on your plant.
Cat Pee can Ward off Other Garden Pests
While cat pee isn’t particularly good for your plants, some gardeners like the way it chases off other garden pests that are too afraid of the cat to approach. Any animals who fall prey to cats will be wary of your garden if they smell cat urine in the area.
That said, you may not like the smell much either! And, as I stated above, it can be detrimental to your plant’s health in high amounts.
Follow these Steps to Save your Peed-Upon Plant from Dying
1. Rinse the Soil Thoroughly
If your plant is outdoors, use a hose to spray down the entire area. This will work to dilute and remove the cat urine from the plant, and should work to save the roots if it’s done quickly enough.
2. Introduce Humane Deterrents to Keep Cats Away in the Future
I encourage you not to use any deterrents that hurt cats in any way. I promise, there are options that allow you to treat cats humanely while keeping your garden intact.
It is important to deter cats from your plants, though, because if you don’t they will just keep urinating in the same spot. They chose it because it’s convenient, so you have to make it less so.
Check out the options I outline below, and choose whatever is easiest and most cost-effective for you.
If You are Pregnant, You Should Avoid Soil Peed on by Cats
It’s recommended that if you are pregnant, you avoid soil that’s been urinated on by cats. This is because pregnant people and fetuses are more prone to serious symptoms of toxoplasmosis, which is a parasite that can be found in cat feces.
If you are pregnant and can do so, have someone else handle the gardening and wash any fruits and vegetables for you rather than handling them yourself.
You may want to avoid eating any produce that’s been urinated upon or near cat urine as well to be safe, but most gardeners seem to agree that washed produce is okay for consumption.
9 Ways to keep Cats out of your Garden
1.Talk to Your Neighbor
If the cat peeing in your garden belongs to a neighbor, try speaking to them calmly about the situation.
Without a doubt, they should be keeping their cat inside, or at least contained and supervised when outdoors—but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to convince them of this fact.
Instead, ask them what they’re willing to do to keep their cat out of your garden. Explain what is happening and ask for help finding solutions.
Because your neighbors are already doing a selfish thing by allowing their cat outdoors unsupervised, you might find this step unhelpful—but it can be worthwhile if your neighbor does decide to help.
After all, they’re the ones who can contain and control their cat most easily.
2.Keep your own Cat Indoors
If your own cat is peeing in your garden, or the neighbors, the most basic thing to do is to keep them indoors.
Cats may get upset at not being allowed outside at first if it’s something they’re used to, and saving the garden may seem like a small reason to keep them in the house.
However, you’re not just saving the garden—keeping your cat inside makes them happier and healthier in the long run, and drastically increases their lifespan.
With all the benefits to your cat and the environment, saving a few plants is just an added bonus.
If you do insist on allowing your cat outdoors, cat patios, leashes, and cat-proof fencing are great ways to do so without causing harm to your cat, the environment, or the garden.
You can also train your cat to stay near you and supervise their outdoor time.
3.Add Skewers to the Soil
Placing skewers, stakes, or sticks in the soil will deter cats from crawling around, and will also make it uncomfortable for them to squat and urinate on nearby plants.
Try placing the skewers around 6 inches apart, and cover the entire area the cat likes to pee in. If you find that the cat is navigating around the skewers, try adding more and placing them more closely together.
You can also try other things that are uncomfortable to walk or squat on dispersed on top of the soil, such as aluminum foil, pine needles, or crushed rocks.
4. Create a “Cage” for your Plants using Chicken Wire
Cage your plants in with chicken wire to keep cats, as well as other pests, out of the area. If they cannot get in, they won’t be able to urinate there.
5.Cover the Soil with Mulch, Rocks, or Other Materials
Sometimes, if a cat cannot get to the soil, they’ll stop urinating in it. Try covering the top of your pot or garden bed with heavy mulch, rocks, or other materials. Plastic also works well for potted plants, but may be less plausible onthe ground or an entire raised bed.
Keep in mind that the cat might just go on top of whatever you put down. It’s best to choose something uncomfortable for cats to walk on, as this will deter them further.
6. Use Smell Deterrents
There are many smell deterrents for cats and other pests on the market, but keep in mind that not all of them are actually cat-safe.
For example, citrus scents are incredibly popular as a deterrent—but concentrated citrus oils are toxic to cats, and they shouldn’t breathe them in.
Cayenne pepper and other similar spicy irritants are never recommended, as they can seriously harm cats.
Similarly, mothballs are toxic to more than just cats and should never be used in your garden.
7.If Possible, Keep the Soil Damp
Some plants cannot have their soil drenched frequently, but if yours can, it might be worth a try to give them a daily soaking.
Aim for the time the cat typically does their business in your garden, if you’ve caught them in the act. They will likely not want to get their feet wet or urinate in wet soil, and will go off to search for a drier area.
8. Put a Litter Box near the Plant
This one is super annoying if you’re not dealing with your own cat, but it might work to give kitty another nearby option to use instead of your planter or garden.
Simply place the litter box nearby and scoop daily. You’ll want to shelter it in the rain so it doesn’t all clump together, but otherwise this can work well.
If you’re already rinsing cat pee from your garden, scooping a box might not be that much more work.
9.Purchase a Motion-Activated Sprinkler
In the same vein as the suggestion above, cats do not like getting wet. A motion-activated sprinkler that turns on when they’re near your garden will almost positively keep them away.
This is a pricier option, though, so I don’t recommend it unless you need a sprinkler anyway or have already tried the options above.
9 Ways to Keep your Cat out of Your Houseplants
1.Keep Litterboxes Clean
One of the biggest reasons a cat will pee outside of their litterbox is because it is dirty. Like us, they don’t like filthy restrooms!
I recommend that you scoop each litterbox in your home at least once or twice daily, and replace the litter once a week. If the litterbox is dirty when changing out litter, give it a scrub before refilling.
Keep in mind that some cats may be fussier than others. If your cat is especially finicky about cleanliness, try scooping more often or purchasing an extra litterbox.
2.Visit your Veterinarian for a Check-up
Inappropriate urination can be cause for concern in some cats. While cats do naturally eliminatepee and poop in dirt and soil, it may be worth getting a check-up if this is new behavior.
3.Cover the top of the Soil
Covering the top of the soil can be a simple solution to make it impossible for your cat to pee in your houseplant.
You can use aluminum or plastic for this, or cover the soil with rocks, bark, or another material. If your cat doesn’t like walking on it, this is an added bonus.
If you choose to try this option, be aware that it will keep the soil wet longer by stopping some of the evaporation process. Depending on your houseplant and the material you choose, this could keep the roots waterlogged and kill your plant via root rot.
For example, you definitely don’t want to cover a cacti soil with plastic wrap that’ll hold in too much moisture. But doing the same for a Fittonia (Nerve Plant) might work out fine, since those plants love moisture anyway.
4.Use Skewers to Deter your Cat
You can place skewers around your plant so that your cat can’t get comfy enough to crouch down and pee in the soil. Try placing them a few inches apart, depending on the size of your pot.
5.Place Double-Sided Tape or Aluminum Foil in the Surrounding Area
My cats don’t pee in my plants (thank goodness!), but they do sometimes try to eat them. To prevent this, I line my plant shelves with double-sided sticky tape.
Cats hate the feeling of having their paws stuck on the tape, and so they learn to avoid jumping up onto the area.
Aluminum foil can work in the same way.
I haven’t personally tried this trick for plants that sit on the ground, but I’m sure you could line the floor or the pot with one of these materials and it may deter some cats.
6.Place a Litterbox near the Plant
If your cat has decided where they want their bathroom to be, it might be easiest to give in to their desires. Try placing a litterbox beside your plant, or even switching out the plant for a litterbox in the same place.
7.Purchase a New Type of Litter
If your cat is using soil instead of litter, it’s possible they don’t like the kind you currently purchase. There are a variety of litter types on the market, so it may be worthwhile to switch it up and let your cat decide what they like best.
But just like you can buy your cat six cat trees and they’ll still prefer an empty box, they might decide that soil is still their favorite, no matter what litter you buy them.
8.Block Access to the Plant
If you can, block your cat’s access to the plant they are peeing in. This can be done in a variety of ways.
Personally, I keep many of my plants in a room with the door closed so that my cats can’t get to them. I also have a lot of hanging baskets that hang too high for my cats to reach. Shelves can also accomplish this so long as your cat can’t jump onto them, or you can deter them from doing so.
All of these can be more difficult for large planters, and for plants that need to sit in a particular spot in your home to get the light they need.
But if you can move your plant or block access to it in some way, it can be a great solution.
9.Use Smell Deterrents
As stated above, be careful when using smell deterrents as many can poison your cat either through breathing them in (in the case of citrus and some other essential oils) or if your cat happens to eat them rather than actually being deterred.
Be sure to do thorough research before purchasing any product to ensure it’s actually cat-friendly. This includes if things go wrong and your cat doesn’t behave as planned.
For example, citrus peels will deter most cats and aren’t as dangerous as essential oils because they’re less concentrated. But if your cat eats them, they will be poisoned.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio
Can you save a plant from cat pee? ›
Firstly, rinse the soil out thoroughly so that the water flushes right through. Then, let the plant drain and dry out. A mixture of two parts water to a part baking soda can then be sprayed on to the plant – this will remove any remaining odor.How do you keep cats from peeing in potted plants? ›
Use an aluminum foil to cover the soil of your pots. Cats detest the feel of their paws on aluminum foil, and they won't attempt to walk on it. This means your cat won't come near your potted plants and urinate on them.Why did my cat pee in my plant? ›
1. Some cats like the feel of soft dirt to dig out places to urinate or defecate. 2. Some cats are giving you a less-than-subtle signal that they view that their litter boxes are not clean enough to use.How do you neutralize cat urine in soil? ›
Cat urine is highly acidic. Some resources suggest neutralizing any remaining acidity still in the soil with hydrated lime and thoroughly mixing it into the soil. Once you remove the urine-marked soil, the cats will return and want to refresh their territory.How can I save my cats plants? ›
Make Your Plants Unappealing
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. If you don't feel like creating your own mixture, Bodhi Dog makes a Bitter Lemon Spray.
If kitty dug up the plant but it still retains some leaves, repot it and continue watering and feeding as usual. It may come back with little to no permanent injury, provided it wasn't out of the ground for much time. In cases of extreme harm, you can often take a remaining healthy cutting and root a new plant.What smell keeps cats away from plants? ›
Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme. Plant a few of these throughout the garden. (Interplanting can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects too.) Cats steer clear of strong citrus scents.What smell will repel cats? ›
Orange and lemon peels (cats dislike citrus smells), cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, & mustard oil.What repels cats from potted plants? ›
Citrus. One natural smell that cats loathe is citrus. Try placing orange or lemon peels around the top of your pots to deter your felines from getting too close. You can also sprinkle the inside of your potted plants with orange, apple, or grapefruit rinds to keep them away.Is cat pee and poop good for plants? ›
All this waste is good, holy fertilizer. Dog and cat waste is particularly valuable because, compared to most manures, it is higher in phosphorus, the plant nutrient most difficult for organic farmers and gardeners to come by naturally.
What happens if you pee on your plants? ›
Sodium inhibits plant growth by interfering with water uptake in root and interfering with the uptake of competitive nutrients. Excess urine in the soil can introduce toxic levels of nutrient into the soil and thus kill the plant as seen in the case of urine fertilizer; the large amount of nitrogen is the main concern.Does vinegar destroy cat urine? ›
Vinegar, while a bit smelly itself, works to remove the lasting odor of sprayed cat urine because vinegar is an acid that neutralizes the alkaline salts that form in dried urine stains. A solution of one part water and one part vinegar can be used to clean walls and floors.What spray gets rid of cat urine? ›
Step 1: Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Step 2: Liberally apply it to the affected area; let the solution soak in for 15 minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth. Step 3: Repeat this process a few times to completely remove the odor.Does baking soda neutralize cat urine? ›
Use the natural power of baking soda to help neutralize cat urine odor in soiled bedding and clothes. Add a half-cup directly to the drum with your clothes, or use a detergent that has baking soda in it.Does cinnamon keep cats away? ›
Strong spicy aromas like pepper, curry, and cinnamon also tend to ward off cats. However, we do not recommend using cayenne pepper or other pepper flakes to keep cats out of the garden, as this could potentially harm them. Cinnamon is non-toxic to cats.Can I spray lemon juice on my plants? ›
Lemon juice, for example, can sometimes help control small infestations of garden pests, such as ants, aphids and leaf beetles. Because lemon juice is also an ingredient found in some natural herbicides, often coupled with vinegar, use it with caution so you do not cause more harm than good in the garden.Does cayenne pepper keep cats away? ›
Yes, you read that right; cayenne pepper can help you fend off cats. Kitties hate the smell of cayenne pepper, and that's one advantage that you have. So, you can simply add it to your garden. Sprinkle the spicy chili around your plants, or you can choose to spray it.Should I let my cat eat my plants? ›
Keep in mind that the majority of plants are relatively safe but may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Of course, if your cat is seen consuming any part of a plant, and you're not sure it's safe, call your veterinarian or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for life-saving information.How do you cat proof indoor plants? ›
- Lemon Can Work, But Pepper Should Be Avoided. Using cayenne pepper is not recommended. ...
- Hang 'Em Up. ...
- Wrap the Pot in Tinfoil. ...
- Cover the Soil. ...
- Tempt Kitty With Something Else to Chew On. ...
- Fill Your Space With Non-Toxic Plants.
Most cats are fastidious creatures and are careful about what they eat. Poisoning in cats is therefore generally rare. It is the young inquisitive cat or kitten that is most at risk of eating harmful plants, particularly household ones. Boredom also has a part to play.
What taste do cats hate? ›
Cats have only 480 taste buds, and they only have taste receptors for salty, sour, and bitter. Like dogs, cats have a strong sense of smell and dislike anything that tastes bitter.What smell do cats love? ›
If you want some cat-friendly air fresheners, there are certain smells that cats love. “Cats love the smell of catnip, olives, non-citrus fruit for the most part and plants like honeysuckle,” Dr. Evans said. A lot of cats like the scent of valerian root, “which induces a similar euphoria to catnip,” Hudson said.Do cats cry? ›
Cats don't cry tears when they're sad or in pain. But Halls says whether your cat is experiencing emotional or physical pain, they'll exhibit behavioral changes that could include vocal crying. The sound of a cat crying is typically longer in duration and lower in frequency than day-to-day cat chatter.How do you make homemade cat repellent? ›
Citronella oil is a homemade cat repellent that many people have had success with. Citronella is best known as a mosquito repellent, but cats find the Citronella odor to be distasteful. Simply mix one part Citronella oil to four parts water and spray liberally in the troubled areas.Is human poop good for plants? ›
Another thing about human waste is that it has tremendous potential value that can be tapped if we don't waste it. Urine has most of the nitrogen and phosphorus – both key ingredients in fertilizer – from our diets. Feces contain organic matter and nutrients.Is human pee good for plants? ›
Human urine provides an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements for plants, and can be delivered in a form that's perfect for assimilation. With a constant, year-round and free supply of this resource available, more and more farmers and gardeners are making use of it.Can you water plants with your pee? ›
Believe it or not, urine is actually the perfect fertilizer. It contains everything that the plants need. For example nitrogen, fosfor and potassium. The very same things that you get in store-bought fertilizer.Is coffee good for plants? ›
Coffee grounds (and brewed coffee) are a source of nitrogen for plants, producing healthy green growth and strong stems. Coffee also contains calcium and magnesium — both of which are beneficial to plant health. To use coffee as a plant fertilizer, you'll need to dilute it. It should look like weak tea.How often should you water a plant with urine? ›
On a hot day, the plants will wilt easily, and require frequent watering. With such a constant throughput of water, diluted urine can be applied as frequently as 3 times per week. For use on containers, urine can be diluted with water at the rates of 3:1 or 5:1 and applied once, twice or three times a week.What plants benefit from urine? ›
Plants that Prefer Urine Fertilizer for Better Growth. Cabbage, papaya, beans, tomato, hibiscus, okra, maize, pumpkin, passion fruit, and cucumber showed a good sign of growth on the application of urine fertilizer. They also produce large-sized fruits and vegetables due to high nitrogen content in the urine.
Is vinegar or hydrogen peroxide better for cat urine? ›
You can use hydrogen-peroxide right after using the vinegar and water solution to further eliminate the odor. Hydrogen-peroxide is best for hardwood floors suffering from cat urine smells but also works for carpets, couches, and even clothing.Is baking soda or vinegar better for cat urine? ›
A water and distilled white vinegar solution is going to be your best friend. Once you've cleaned the area with that, sprinkle baking soda, let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum. This is the most effective natural DIY method we can recommend.What does white vinegar do to cats? ›
If you're wondering whether your cat can safely drink vinegar, or if it's safe to clean with vinegar in the house with pets, then the simple answer is yes, it is safe as vinegar is not toxic to cats.What kind of vinegar gets rid of cat pee? ›
Then you're going to want to douse the spot with an enzymatic cleaner or simply make your own cleaning solution by combining (white or apple cider) vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. Because the vinegar is acidic, it will neutralize the bacteria in the cat pee, offsetting its odor.Does Dawn get rid of cat pee? ›
The best DIY pet odor treatments for carpet are going to be vinegar, baking soda, or blue Dawn dish soap. Try keeping a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use that to clean up occasional pet accidents. Just spray the area and then stand on it with paper towels or a clean, white cotton towel.Does soap and water remove cat pee? ›
For hard surfaces, use dish soap and cool water or floor cleaner. First, blot away the cat urine with a cloth or paper towel. Then, mix a tablespoon of dish soap into two cups of cool water, or use floor cleaner, wet a cloth or paper towel in the solution, and wipe down the surface.Can you put baking soda in cat litter? ›
Add baking soda to the litter: Surprisingly, baking soda is a great all-natural deodorizer that is both safe for cats and can help manage the litter box smell. By mixing a little bit of baking soda with the litter, you can help absorb any urine odors also.Does peroxide work on cat urine? ›
Make a DIY pet stain-odor remover with a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and a drop or two of dish liquid. Pour the mixture onto the stained area (to be safe, text the mixture on a spot of the carpet that is hidden or out of the way to ensure that it doesn't discolor the carpet).Can I spray my cat with baking soda? ›
Baking soda is safe for your pets. It's nontoxic and safe for dogs, cats and other critters. You can use it to control odors, clean accidents, and help maintain healthy teeth.How do you save a plant that has been peed on? ›
Method 1: Use a garden hose to heavily water the spot that your dog peed on. Method 2: Douse the affected plant with a mixture of ½ cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 tbsp. of baking soda. This mixture also neutralizes the damage-causing compounds found in dog urine.
What to do with houseplants when you get a cat? ›
Put your plants in a place where the cats can't reach them, for example on a fridge or plantshelfie. Or in a room that you can close when you are not around to watch your cat's behavior. Use plant hangers to hang plants from the ceiling where your cats can't reach it.Is cat poop and pee good for plants? ›
All this waste is good, holy fertilizer. Dog and cat waste is particularly valuable because, compared to most manures, it is higher in phosphorus, the plant nutrient most difficult for organic farmers and gardeners to come by naturally.Is cat pee toxic? ›
Cat pee is full of ammonia, a toxic gas that can cause headaches, trigger asthma attacks, and even result in serious respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems are at particular risk of illness due to overexposure to ammonia.What happens if you water your plants with urine? ›
Believe it or not, urine is actually the perfect fertilizer. It contains everything that the plants need. For example nitrogen, fosfor and potassium. The very same things that you get in store-bought fertilizer.What happens if you use pee to water plants? ›
Urine can be used as a fertiliser without fear it will fuel the spread of antibiotic resistance, researchers have revealed – although they urge caution against using fresh bodily waste to water crops. Urine is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus and has been used for generations to help plants grow.Can I spray my plants with lemon juice? ›
Spray Plants with Diluted Lemon Juice
While lemon juice is safe for pets to ingest, they don't like the smell of citrus-which makes lemon juice a natural deterrent. (It's also perfectly safe for plants.)
If you're willing to put in the work, you might consider composting cat poop to fertilize your lawn or flower gardens—anything that isn't edible. The Spruce lays out some valuable tips for composting cat poop and dog poop for flowers and perennial plants.Is poop good for plants? ›
Poop, or manure, can help plants grow because it enriches the soil that they grow in. Plants are just like us; we need nutrients to help us grow. Manure supplies nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, which speeds up decomposition and lowers the pH of the soil. This helps the plants grow faster!Can smelling cat pee hurt you? ›
Dog or cat urine smells sharply of ammonia, which is an irritant to the lungs. In the case of large amounts of urine, your lungs could feel like they are burning. Inhalation of large quantities of ammonia causes immediate burning of the throat, respiratory tract and nose.Is dried cat pee toxic? ›
Exposure to High Concentration Of Ammonia is Harmful
Cat urine is highly concentrated in ammonia even before it crystalizes. As it solidifies, the concentration becomes higher, and as such, even more harmful. Breathing in ammonia can trigger health problems in people who are already suffering from respiratory problems.
Is cat urine smell permanent? ›
Does cat urine ever go away? Yes, you should be able to neutralize old cat urine smell with the methods above. If it isn't working, make sure you are using a detergent with enough enzymes to break down the smell and make sure you are covering the entire area of the stain.