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One of the benefits to silk plants is you can't kill them. They don't care if they don't drink or see the sun; it's all the same to them. There is one thing they will succumb to: your cat's teeth. If your cat has decided she's keen on your silk flowers, you can discourage her chewing with bitter spray or unpleasant scents.
Applying an unpleasant chew deterrent, such as bitter apple or bitter cherry spray, can be an effective way to keep your silk plants out of your cat's mouth. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends introducing the deterrent to your cat instead of simply spraying the plant and waiting for your cat to take a taste and run away in disgust. To introduce a taste deterrent:
- Apply a small amount to a piece of tissue or cotton wool.
- Place the tissue in your cat's mouth.
- Give her the opportunity to taste it and reject it.
- Apply the deterrent to your plants.
You likely will need to reapply the deterrent daily for several weeks until you're sure your cat gets the message and associates the deterrent's odor and bitter taste with your silk plants.
Many cats are put off by the scent of citrus; putting a few orange or lemon peels in your plant's pot or spraying the plant with a citrus-scented fragrance may be enough to keep her away. Other potentially discouraging scents include vinegar, eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass or oil of lavender. A sprinkling of the dried herb rue may warn her away from her target.
Chewing plants can be a good thing, provided it's the right plant. You, your cat and plants can live together harmoniously without the use of bitter sprays or unappealing scents, particularly if you provide your cat with something she can chew safely. A variety of grasses are available especially for cat chewing. She may appreciate fresh catnip or valerian planted in a container just for her chewing enjoyment. Keep the cat-friendly plants within easy reach of your cat and take care to keep the others out of bounds, such as at the top of bookcases or hanging from a basket.
Odd Eating Behavior
Perhaps your silk plant is just the tip of the iceberg and your cat is eating and gnawing on unusual items throughout the house. Plastic bags, electrical cords, wool blankets and stuffed animals are among the nonfood items many cats chew on. When a cat eats nonfood items, it's known as pica. Pica can be caused by a variety of things, including:
- Nutritional deficiency, such as anemia
- Medical problems, such as feline leukemia
- Environmental factors, such as boredom
- Compulsive disorders
- Genetic predisposition
If your cat's attempting to eat inedible things, she's in potential danger from intestinal blockages. She should see the vet to determine if she has an underlying medical condition causing her problem behavior.