Plants that like cat pee?
March 20, 2013 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Are there any plants that will actually thrive from regular doses of cat urine? And that would grow in pots outdoors in Western Oregon?

We have an enclosed deck off the second floor of our house. My cats like to go out there because it is safe from the aggressive neighborhood strays who frequent our main yard. Last year I planted some passionflower in pots, hoping to train it along the wire 'walls'. At some point the cats decided that peeing in the flower pots on the deck was better than using their own litter box and they continue to do this whenever they have the opportunity. The passionflowers look pretty sad and I'm not optimistic that they will be coming back this spring. Is there anything else I could put in the pots that would do ok with the cat pee? Bonus points if it is semi-attractive and will climb along the wire mesh. Thanks!
posted by mmmmbobo to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
This isn't a direct answer to your question but in response to this same problem my roommate put some pottery shards around the base of our potted plants to partially cover the dirt and make it less like a litter box and the cat stopped peeing there.
posted by mai at 1:53 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with the fist two posters. Sabotage the cat's efforts and discourage a gross, smelly habit.
posted by myselfasme at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2013

Another way to discourage them from using the pots as a litterbox is sprinkling in plenty of common black pepper (NOT red or cayenne pepper!). The pepper is cheap, biodegradable, and it won't hurt the cats, only discourage them. Use plenty, and reapply after rain or heavy waterings.

(Also works to discourage squirrels!)
posted by easily confused at 5:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another thing that will keep the cats out of the pots is cocoa mulch. It is the hulls of cocoa beans (pods?) and cats don't like the smell. I have found bags of it in the local big box hardware store. It looks nice in the pot, smells nice (to humans), and you get the mulch benefits which makes your plants happy.
posted by eleslie at 6:07 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cocoa mulch is toxic to cats and dogs. It's unlikely that they'll eat it, but please don't use it.

You can actually get CatScat mats that would work quite well for keeping cats out of your dirt. I don't know of any plant that enjoys cat urine, though.
posted by Nyx at 8:49 AM on March 21, 2013

No, cat pee is really high in urea, which can kill plants if not diluted. A good fix for this is a barrier, like mentioned above. I have used 2-3" mexican black pebbles. They are big enough that cats are discouraged from digging, and they look nice.

Cocoa mulch may contain theobromine, and can poison cats and dogs, FYI. Depends on the mulch and the animals, but I wouldn't risk it.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on March 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions at discouraging the cats. I will definitely give them all some thought, but I'm not sure how much they might work for my cats. The main offender is a very small cat and she seems to be able to squat on the very edge of the pot without ever touching the soil. (I wish she could just learn this technique for the toilet!) Perhaps the pepper would work, and I could also consider getting pots with sharper edges.
posted by mmmmbobo at 10:49 AM on March 21, 2013

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