We have two indoor cats - a small Russian blue and a big Norwegian forest. They are both lovely cats and cause us very little issue.

Until recently, when my wife decided to take up at-home indoor gardening.

She recently purchased a set of white sage plants and, for those plants, a flower box in which to grow them.

Unfortunately, it turns out our little Russian blue really likes to get up in, dig up, and sleep on the flower box dirt - and does so at every opportunity.

I have tried spraying the area down with pet deterrent odor, I try using a gentle water spray to deter her, and placing it up higher isn't really an option in our apartment, and we would like to be able to keep it in our downstairs living area and not in a closed-off room - but I am running out of options. What can we do?

  • 2
    Is the cat digging, as your title states, or just laying in the dirt, as your question states?
    – Allison C
    Oct 28, 2020 at 14:33
  • 2
    @AllisonC Digging it up and then laying her body down in the dirt afterwards.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 28, 2020 at 15:23
  • 1
    Is the flower box the highest perch in the area? Providing another perch that is more comfortable and/or higher may be easiest.
    – StephenS
    Oct 28, 2020 at 21:17
  • @StephenS They have a cat tower in the living room, which is directly connected to the kitchen - though having a second perch might help.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 29, 2020 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


You've got the right idea with trying to make the area unappealing, but unfortunately a spray isn't going to do much (the digging may in fact be at least partially in response to the spray, in an effort to get rid of the scent from it).

I'd suggest a two-pronged approach. The first is to deter the cat from the area in general with an automatic cat repellant that will go off whether or not you're present. Options here include "Ssscat" motion-activated air cans, and "scat mats," flat mats that carry a mild charge. Neither will hurt the cat, but both will startle her when she approaches the plant. For a lower investment, you can start with trying a sheet of aluminum foil on the table or shelf under the plant. Most cats don't care for the way foil feels under their feet, and will avoid the area. If you do this, I strongly recommend using some blue painter's tape to secure the edges, or she may tear it up trying to get rid of it.

The second prong is actual prongs. After you've made the area in general unappealing, make the dirt itself unappealing. I've used toothpicks in the past to stop a cat from sitting in a pot, but anything that sticks out of the soil and is spiked will make the area unappealing; you might try plastic forks planted tines-up or other items. Don't use anything so sharp it can actually cause harm (needles/pins, knives); you're just discouraging the cat, not hurting her. Err on the side of "too many" rather than "too few," and be prepared to put them back a few times before she gets the idea that she can't get rid of them.

Give this approach a few days, and see how it works out; if after a few days, she's still getting past all your defenses, you may need to find a way to put the plants out of reach, but as long as she's not eating the plant and it's not toxic to her, toughing it out for a few days should hopefully get you to a point where you can keep the plants where they are.

  • 2
    Thank you for the suggestion - I think we're going to try the tin foil method first. We'll let you know how it goes.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 28, 2020 at 17:45
  • Sad to say it hasn't helped as much as we'd hoped - we've wrapped the edge of the box in tin foil, and put little balls of it in the dirt itself, but she still hops up into it.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 29, 2020 at 12:42
  • @Zibbobz Try it the way I suggested it; cover the area around the flower box, not the box itself.
    – Allison C
    Oct 29, 2020 at 13:12
  • Well unfortunately, we just moved it into a stand so...it sounds like that would be the floor instead?
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 29, 2020 at 13:27
  • It sounds like it would be; the goal is to discourage approaching the plant at all. Hope it helps!
    – Allison C
    Oct 29, 2020 at 13:36

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