Cats. Kittens. Felis catus.To many people cats are akin to man’s best friend, the dog. They’re family members, confidants, your bestest friend in the world with the big eyes. We call them ‘boo-boo’ or ‘kitty’, ‘sweetie pie’ or ‘baby puss’.
I call them little fuzzy ninja demons.
Before anyone gets their hackles up let me be perfectly upfront with you: I own cats. Over the years I’ve owned a total of 6 cats and I can’t tell you how much joy they’ve brought me. I have loved each and every one of them immensely. However, all that love and admiration doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to get red faced and angry at them when they do the things that cats do: claw the hell out of your home and eat your plants.
Over the winter we had to bring in a number of the tropical plants that we had outdoors. Tropical plants tend to be big and green and leafy; normally used for decoration. Evidently, out in the wild, tropical plants are like the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday. These plants would constantly attract the cats who would jump in them and eat their leaves. These once beautiful plants started looking like they were being gnawed at by giant, furry termites. They became mangled and the leaves were shredded. Our once beautiful tropical plants had turned into a kitty playground.
I’ve tried the spray bottle method of reprimanding them but that idea went out the window when my largest, most dim-witted dog managed to chew the spray bottle (I think the cats coerced him into it!). At this point it became a battle of wills. Who would prevail? The humans who wanted to keep the plants alive until the weather warmed up enough to bring the plants back out or the kittens who wanted to treat said plants like an all you can eat buffet? Ultimately, would we be able to outwit the cats?
Oh, it was on. The game was afoot!
The first tactic used to deter the cats from mauling the plants was to make it difficult for them to stand in the planters or the pots. One solution that I read about consisted of using pine cones. The theory was that cats would not want to step on the pine cones because it was very uncomfortable on their dainty, delicate paws. I was able to round up enough pine cones to put on top of the soil of each of my plant pots and cover up any exposed dirt. For the first two days it worked! No new destruction! And then, after that second day, I started noticing an increase in hole caused by chewing. I had no idea how the heck these cats were doing it! How the heck were my two 6 month old kittens destroying my plants? I imagined it was something like this:
Like Wile E. Coyote I went back to the drawing board.
Let’s Try Science (Fiction)!
While in the pet store the other day I ran across this nifty device: The Ssscat Trainer. SSSCAT Spray senses your cat within 1 meter then emits a startling, deterring spray. The spray is an odorless, non-staining gas, harmless to pets and people and you can get approximately 120 sprays per can. What better way to beat a cat than by using our vastly superior intellect? I was overjoyed!
Unfortunately, this got my head thinking that this thing would be an awesome, mechanical sentry guarding my poor, defenseless plants. In my pea sized brain I thought that I would finally have something like my very own Robocop or, at the very least, the automatic machine gun sentry from the movie ‘Aliens’
Instead I got something that behaved like it was automatically spraying them with deodorant.
This isn’t to stay that it doesn’t work. It works very much like the following video:
The problem is that I am trying to use one to protect a large, leafy plant that sits on the floor. I put the Ssscat inside the pot behind the plant’s stalks and then I turned it on. As promised the spray went off. First, in my face because I didn’t know what I was doing when I turned it on. Next, it went off when one of my kittens got curious. BAM! Harmless spray startled the kitten and our plants lived to see another day. Until we ran into a small problem.
The plant sat on the floor and in a corner, armed and ready to battle two 9 month old kittens. Unfortunately, the sensor doesn’t discriminate. All three dogs at one point or another got shot in the face, the sides and the butt. Just walking past it would cause it to spray you in the legs. 120 shots in a can? Great! But at about $13 a can it would turn out to be a pretty steep price to pay to replace the can EVERY WEEK.
Which makes me feel like I’m in another Wile E. Coyote moment looking for some other way to deter my cats from treating our plants like a salad.
Fortunately, it looks like time is on my side as the weather finally looks to be getting warmer! Yes, my friends. This war with my cats turned into a battle to see who would last the longest. Luckily, it seems as though Mother Nature was on my side.
With that said, does anyone have any ideas how to keep cats from doing their evil, little cat deeds?