How to stop the cat from eating the seedlings
Mug shot of Cinnamon - "Wanted" for eating 100 heirloom seedlings
Start your seedlings. Make sure that they are in a sunny spot that does not get direct sunlight. I have a perfect spot in my bathroom. There is a large frosted window next to the garden tub. I put a small table in the tub and can move it easily when the tub is in use. The tub gets sun all afternoon. Absolutely perfect for seed germination. Also, absolutely perfect for the Cinnamon cat who likes to nap in the tub as well...Purrfect for an afternoon snack.
Until the true leaves appear, they cannot be moved outdoors. While some of the hardier plants can be planted outside, most plants like a more controlled start. The problem with indoor seedlings is cats. Dogs do not generally mess with the seedlings but for cats, ahhh, the elixir of life.
I've listed some methods to keep your seedlings safe until they are ready to harden off outside.
Supplies you need to have on hand to start seedlings
You will need supplies for whatever deterrent you choose.
You will need carefully grown seedlings from expensive heirloom seeds.
You will need a cute adorable cat but that choice is up to you. We already had Cinnamon so the cat part was easy. If you don't have a cat yet but want to stop one from eating your seedlings, might I suggest your local animal shelter where they have many, cute, adorable cats.
If you need a cat, start here!
- The Humane Society
"Find a pet" is right on the front page.
Start the seeds
To prevent the cat from eating the seedlings, you will not only need a cat but a growing medium and seeds to plant.
We have decided to change how we eat and are now growing heirloom seeds. These are not geneatically modified and much healthier than the ones you buy at the garden center. Some garden center also sell heirloom seeds but my favorite all time place to buy my seeds is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They have a paper catalog I order each year to browse during the winter to determine what I want to plant in the spring, although I just got my seeds for the fall garden.
I always start my seeds in this tray. It's reuable and easy to store. It is also safe for the seedling until it's time to remove the lid to harden off the seedlings. I also save the rolls from paper towels and bathroom tissue for seedlings that do not need to be covered. These seedlings are started outside on the workbench.
No cats were injured during the writing of this article. Cats will eat seedlings. It is up to you to take steps to prevent it. You can't get mad if your cat acts like a cat.
Suggestion #1 - Cover the plants with a cardboard box at night
This is a great suggestion. Simply find a cardboard box and cover the plants at night. In the morning, remove the box so the plants get the filtered sun. This worked until I left the house, leaving the seeds at the mercy of the cat. When I'm home, the cat is easy to monitor.
Suggestion #2 - Soak a paper towel with ammonia and set it in the planting medium
She doesn't like it and neither do I. Still, it's effective. Some have objected to this suggestion. In a pinch, any method to stop the cat should be used until a more gentle solution is available.
I do have the cover for the plants to germinate but once it comes off, the seeds still are not ready to take outside. This is the dangerous time for the seedlings. My cats are indoor cats. We have coyotes and cars. We do grow cat grass for them but it goes fast.
Suggestion #5 - Banana peels
This was an interesting suggestion I found while researching. Put banana peels on the planting medium. I chased the cat around with the banana peel and she doesn't like it so this looks like a viable option.
PJ is too lazy to eat the seedlings. He would have to get up and prefers his food at floor level.
Suggestion #6 - Citrus or eucalptus oil
Along the same line, cats are not fond of the smell of citrus or eucalyptus. Another thing to try if all else fails.
Suggestion #7 - Sprinkle black pepper on the seedlings
Cinnamon does not like pepper on any of her food. However, I'm not sure if this is enough to stop her. Haven't tried this one yet, My go-to solution is the chicken wire cage to cover my plants. We always have chicken wire because once we stop the indoor threat, we move to the outside to protect the vegetable with chicken wire lined beds to stop the gopher.
We had a live tree that both the cats seem to enjoy. Even PJ found it easy to nibble but then, it brushed the floor so he didn't have to get up to feast on the new taste treat.
How can anyone resist this face?
This is meant to be slightly silly but in truth, 100 heirloom seedlings are a lot of work and I was discouraged when Cinnamon ate all of them. I needed to find a way to protect them while making sure that she was safe. All of these work.