Houseplants seem invite cats to use them as a littler box. Unfortunately the smell of cat litter is very distinctive and not very pleasant so many cat owners look for various ways to stop this annoying habit by their feline friends.
The first thing that should be done to help the cat stop this behavior, is to check to make sure that their litter box is clean. Some cats will not use a dirty box. Or if there are more than one cat in the house each cat may need their own litter box.
One of the best ways to stop the behavior is to make the plant as unattractive to the cat as possible. This can be done without hurting the houseplant by sprinkling cayenne pepper in the dirt around the plants. Quite a bit may need to be used so that when the cat scratches the surface of the dirt, the pepper will touch their nose and cause discomfort. If the thought of straight cayenne is too much for the owner, try combining it with pepper and dry mustard. Use three parts dry mustard, two parts cayenne pepper and five parts flour. Work this gently into the soil Or citrus rinds may be ground up in a blender or food processor and then placed in the soil. These would have to be watched to make sure they do not mold as rinds do not break down easily in the soil. Cats also do not enjoy the smell of tea, so after having the morning tea, sprinkle the leaves into the soil.
Another way is to place pine cones or large rocks in the pot or place aluminum foil over the soil. Most cats do not like the feel of either of these on their paws. Chicken wire can also be placed over the soil. It needs to be raised off of the surface of the soil. When the cat steps on it they will feel off-balanced and will try to avoid this surface.
Cat’s can learn not to use the plants as a litter box by a little behavior management. When they are caught in the plant or sniffing around it, spray the cat with a squirt bottle filled with water. Most cats do not like the feel of water, so they will quickly learn not to continue this action. Or using an inexpensive motion detector noise-maker placed in the plant can also become a deterrent for the cat. Along the line of noise making, keep a newspaper rolled up and when they begin sniffing, hit the paper on the floor. This noise will startle them away from the plant.
Once the cat has stopped using the plant as their personal bathroom, the plant can be aided by watering the plant until water runs out of the drainage hole. This will help to eliminate any chemicals from the cat’s urine from the soil.