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How to stop the cat from eating the seedlings

Updated on October 3, 2014

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.

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.

Seed Germination Kit, 2 Seed Trays, 72 Large Cells, 2 Dome Lids
Seed Germination Kit, 2 Seed Trays, 72 Large Cells, 2 Dome Lids

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

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.

Christmas 2011

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.

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    • DIY Mary profile image

      DIY Mary 6 years ago

      So cute! This lens had me chuckling throughout. I love cats, and Cinnamon sounds like a real feisty critter!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Cats will be cats and I have never seen this issue addressed before...necessity does breed invention. When I read, "This is a dangerous time for seedlings.", you had brought new meaning with the cat attack by very discouraging to loose 100 heirloom seedings...but you did have a happy cat!

    • profile image

      nursecraft 6 years ago

      This is an iriginal lens. I enjoyed the humor that you injected into the article. I have a cat and have tried to start seedlings, but usually I have to put it out of his reach while he's awake.( As if anything is ever out of a cat's reach!)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      PJ and Cinnamon are really two cute and cuddly cats..Whenever they eat the seedlings give them a little spanking and lots of kisses!!!! ;-)

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 6 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      My cat would sit on the box and squash it and the seedlings! :-( He likes boxes!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 6 years ago from USA

      Such good suggestions for keeping kitty from eating my seedlings. This has happened so many times, I'm going to try the tub idea. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • profile image

      Jake_2525 6 years ago

      I loved how upset the Cinnamon looked at the title page. That is so funny. Great lens. Keep up the good work.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 6 years ago

      Cinnamon looks fierce! Good luck with the seedlings, I never knew cats loved to eat them.

    • cheech1981 profile image

      cheech1981 6 years ago

      hmm I guess that is better than my strategy of trading the cat for a dog. ;) jk!

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 6 years ago

      I absolutely LOVED this lens! Smiling ear to ear remembering my own Kitty and her shinanigans with the garden... *Blessed!*

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the suggestions, and good luck with your seedlings. The cats are beautiful!

    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 6 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      Your Cinnamon looks a lot like my Mozart and just as mischievous. Good luck with your seedlings. Heirlooms are worth the work.

    • Ribolov LM profile image

      Ribolov LM 6 years ago

      Nice lens, nice pictures, great infos. Thnx for this lens.

    • profile image

      MBcandy 6 years ago

      Do cats eat seedlings?

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 6 years ago

      Great lens. Good thing my dogs don't eat seedlings.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      @intermarks: We didn't use the ammonia. It is a suggestion I found but there are other suggestions that are safe. Thanks for the comment.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Sorry but I just could not help but laugh my way through this little article on Heirloom seedlings. Sounds typical of owning cats, they are as sneaking as squirrels when it comes to getting what it is that they want, they'll just keep trying till they figure out a way around what you have set up to stop them. Great article.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Reading your lens I couldn't stop myself from wondering if any of these methods would stop the squirrels from digging in my planters, destroying seedlings... Great info!! :)

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 6 years ago

      Are cats really ate seedings? I think in this case, it is better to use some natural way where you can put a few garlic around it, cats doesn't like the garlic smell, it works and you can try to use this method instead of using chemical like ammonia. It is definitely safer for cats.

    • wheresthekarma profile image

      wheresthekarma 6 years ago

      Cute lens, love the humor!

    • profile image

      momsfunny 6 years ago

      LOL Still laughing i can't stop the image of you running after cinnamon splashing water on her. Nicely done 5 points for great tips as well. LOL

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Both cats look beautiful, don't they all.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Cinnamon and PJ are adorable. And you're right, cats will be cats. I'm lens rolling Scarlett O'Hairy's lens to this one!