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 (9 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 can't imagine a deck decorated with potted plants that reek of cat pee is a relaxing place to hang out: are you OK with the cats peeing in the pots or have you given up all hope? I have a similar space and have used baseball-sized river cobbles piled into the tops of the pots and around the base of plants to keep the cats out of the dirt. This worked to stop inappropriate elimination from all but one cat but a few well-timed blasts from a garden hose have been effective in getting him to cut it out.

In any case, back before I decided to take back my patio, the only thing the cats were not able to kill was a potted bamboo (aka the cockroach of the garden).
posted by jamaro at 1:54 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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


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


she seems to be able to squat on the very edge of the pot without ever touching the soil

Try double sided tape (or regular painter's masking tape applied in loops with the sticky side out) on the edges of the pots + blocking off access to the soil.

There's also this stuff. Personally, I find the scent as off-putting as the cats do but it does work fairly well on a temporary basis while you work to retraining her where is/is not OK to pee.
posted by jamaro at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2013


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