You discover that your favorite ivy plant has teeth marks all over it. The plant doesn’t look very well. No doubt the culprit is your cat.

She has an incredible interest in eating your house plants. What’s worse is that eating the plant is not in your cat’s best interest. Some common house plants such as cyclamens, narcissus, ivy and asparagus fern can make her ill or kill her if she eats them. You can check on-line or ask your vet about other plants that are dangerous to cats.

If you really can’t bear to part with the plants that have become a part of your family, get some hanging pots or baskets and put the plants up out of kitty’s reach. Be sure to keep the plants well away from counters, tables, bookcases or anything else your cat can climb or jump from. You also have to be aware of flowers and leaves that have fallen from your plants. Pick them up before your cat can get them.

If you suspect that she has been snacking on plants that she shouldn’t be, and has diarrhea, vomiting, disorientation and lack of appetite take her to the vet immediately. If you know which plant she has tasted, take it along too for identification purposes.

There are several things you can do to get her to stop sampling the plants. You can make your plants smell bad to your cat. Since cats are very sensitive to smells, one of the easiest ways to keep her from digging, eating or playing with your plants is to make them smell unappetizing to her. There are over-the-counter sprays that are made from non-toxic ingredients that will work, but check with your vet to be sure it is safe before you use any. You can also spray a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water directly on the leaves of any plants she is especially interested in. She won’t be tempted to taste and the mixture isn’t harmful to the plants.

Not only do cats like to eat plants, they like to play with them, knocking them to the floor and digging in the dirt scattering it about. To stop the digging, you can put rocks on top of the soil in the pot. It will look nice and your cat can’t dig in the soil. Wire mesh or screen poked down over the dirt and fitted just inside the pot works, too.

If all attempts to stop her from eating your plants or digging in the dirt fail, you can go to the one perfect solution. Switch from live plants to silk or plastic ones. I decided on that option several years ago.

If your cat’s plant eating seems to be coming more and more of an obsession with her, take her to the vet. Sometimes cats eat plants or soil because their diet is lacking some essential nutrient. It can also be a symptom of gastrointestinal problems. It’s a good idea to have her checked by her vet to be sure.

The Pittsburg County Animal Shelter is located at 1206 N. West St. in McAlester. The hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee for a dog is $20 and $15 for a cat. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.

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