Occupation: florist. Why do cats like to nibble on flowers?

Why do cats like to nibble on flowers

Cat – a gardener? Why not! After all, digging around in soil is just like digging in your litter box – you never know what you’re going to find:) But besides digging up flower beds and garden patches, your cat might become a florist – some furs will happily give a regular trim to your green plants. But are such activities safe for cats? On International Women’s Day, when there will be many flower bouquets showing up in our homes, here at myKotty, we’re checking why cats like to nibble on flowers and which of them will be a tasty snack for our cats and which ones we should avoid. Come on, fabCats – it’s time to review our flower stashes at home. 

Why do cats hit on flowers? 

When your cat has a passion for flowers and gardening, it seems pointless to be looking for any methods that would turn them away from following their new hobby. Putting the plant pot or a vase somewhere higher up is often treated as a challenge and an invite to play some more. “The object I want to investigate is moving away? Fantastic! Time to hunt it.”. So before we get into juggling our flowers and start looking for new spaces for our plant pots, let’s think first: why does our cat want to hit on our flowers? 

Most attacks on plants happen when:  

  • Your cat is bored. Having nothing to do is one of the most common (and commonly ignored) reasons for cats being naughty. Meanwhile it’s boredom, fueled by cats’ innate curiosity and their explorer gene, that makes them happy to welcome any new plant at home with an emotional kiss. 
  • Your cat wants to get your attention. When meowing and wailing are failing, the next step in a cat’s strategy to get their Guardian’s attention might be to attack. It can be directed at the hooman, but also at things that are precious to them. A scratched up sofa, a chewed-up plant, a fallen vase – no holds barred.  
  • Your cat is curious. You don’t have to be a behaviorist to notice that when something new appears in your house, cats have to know what it is. Brand new flowers are no exception! We, as cat Guardians, have to make sure that such inspection won’t end in a vet’s office.  
  • There’s something wrong. Cats have a natural instinct to chew on grass when they need to clear their digestive tract, e.g. from fur balls. And if they don’t have access to grass, they often go for other plants they can find in their paws’ reach. Unfortunately, they don’t have the ability to distinguish toxic plants from ones that are safe. 

Just like with many other aspects of a cat’s life, chewing on plants is an individual thing and there’s never one, universal explanation for why cats do it. Some treat it as a game, others as a way of getting their Carer’s attention and some may just think that all plants are grass and are good to chew on. To find the answer, we’d have to ask our cats directly. 

Curious or bored? 

That is the question. Knowing some examples of why cats may chew on house plants, it’s good to observe our feline friends for a bit and think – why do you, kitty, pretend you are a florist? Because if they need to clear their digestive tracts, the solution is simple – providing a cat with access to fresh grass and moving the other house plants out of reach should naturally turn their attention to grass and, with time, other plants should appear less interesting. 

As far as the other reasons go – boredom is quite a force in a cat’s life. When cats eat plants because they can’t find anything better to do or they desperately try to get their Guardian’s attention, we, as cat Carers, should react accordingly. It could be a change of their daily routine and putting more time for play into it, as well as introducing our cats to interactive toys they can play on their own. A good solution would be also to enrich their space with places they can constantly patrol, visit and enjoy. 

We wrote more about playing with cats in one of our articles on the blog. If you’re looking for some ideas – come and give it a read: 

And what if the reason for biting plants is pure curiosity? Well – sometimes a cat has to be just that – a cat. Our role is to make sure that they have access to plants that are cat-safe, including fresh grass – don’t bring home any flower bouquets, toxic palms or potted plants. Exchange them for ones that, if eaten by the cat, won’t cause them any trouble. When curiosity is what fuels a cat’s actions, letting them explore that curiosity is the only thing that can stop it and, with time, your plants will be able to survive without drawing your cat’s attention. 

Beware of cut flowers

And here, dear fabCats, we come to the main point of today’s article. A bouquet of fresh cut flowers is a classic gift for the International Women’s Day, as well as birthdays, dates and anniversaries. Flowers are beautiful and can create a wonderful mood, especially if their meaning is symbolic. Unfortunately, with cats at home, we have to be very careful with the flowers we choose. 

Among the most common cut flowers which are, unfortunately, toxic for cats, we can find: 

  • lilies of the valley, 
  • anthurium, 
  • lillies, 
  • foxgloves,
  • spathiphyllum, 
  • chrysanthemums, 
  • hydrangeas. 

They’re not the only toxic plants – the list is long and every flower we’d like to bring home should be checked for safety on trusted sites, like the ASPCA list. Fortunately, there are alternatives for the aforementioned – bringing home roses or orchids is ok, though we still recommend being careful as nothing in excess can be healthy. And, as we know, sometimes cats don’t know when to stop 🙂 

A safe, green haven for your cat

The spring-summer time is definitely the moment to bring some greenery into the house and well – cats look at our ideas quite curiously. But if we remember safety first and always make sure that there’s zero toxic risks with the plants we bring home, there’s nothing against having flowers and plants at home. We even recommend building a green safe haven for our cats at home – be it the patio, the balcony or a quiet corner at home, giving cats access to fresh green grass, catnip or some kitchen herbs will satisfy their curious noses and provide peace and quiet for your other plants around the house. 

More about herbs which are safe for cats here: 

And how do plants do at your homes, fabCats? Do your cats see them as a great hunting target, a dangling toy you can’t pass by or do they seem not to notice plants at all? Share your experiences in the comments. And to all the ladies on their day, from our entire myKotty team, we wish you all the best! 

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