Desperate Measures

One of the down sides of having so many cats in the house is how much they “love” our houseplants! We’ve had to get increasingly creative to protect them. The smaller ones ended up getting hung up. Thankfully, my daughter’s orchid kokedama are very light, as they ended up being hung from a curtain rod we don’t use. I had several succulents, one of which was apparently delicious to cats. I’ve managed to save two, while a third ended up being totally destroyed.

The problem is with the larger plants. I have a big umbrella tree, we have a whole bunch of aloe vera (less than we started out with) and several jade trees. We’re down a few jade trees, too. 😦 I also had 5 avocados growing in one large pot. They had been doing very well, too.

Then Cabbages happened.

She has a thing for digging in dirt. She’s not interested in the plants themselves. She just wants to dig. The other cats like to bite the aloe vera leaves, which at least won’t harm them, but they also like to break of jade tree leaves, and play with them like cat toys. Jade trees are not good for cats! None of the other cats have Cabbage’s obsession with dirt digging. Thank God for that, or I wouldn’t have any plants left!

We’ve tried many things to deter them. Our aloe vera now all have protective rings of plastic around their bases (except the biggest one, which is so big, with so many babies growing under it, it can protect itself!), cut from those cheese ball and pork rind containers from Costco we’d been keeping to use as garden cloche. They’ve been coming in handy for a lot of other things!

The umbrella tree got a ring of 1 inch wire mesh around its base. The kittens would still jump over it and sit in the middle of the umbrella tree but, as they’ve grown bigger, they seem to have stopped doing that. The smaller plants got the plastic containers put over them as cloche, but some of the cats figure out how to knock those off – and the pots under them. The larger jade trees got various things stuck into the soil to both support their stems, which were being pushed over by cats sitting in the middle of the pots, and to make things difficult for the cats to get in.

The pot the avocado were growing in is a large double-layer pot. The inner pot holds the soil while the outer pot has a reservoir for water, so the roots can be watered from below. In one corner is a triangular piece that holds a float in place, and covered the opening where water is poured into the base.

This pot is on a shelf by the dining room window, along with a number of other plants. Eventually, though, we were down to just one other plant on the shelf; another jade tree. To stop the digging, we tried things like putting duct tape, sticky side up, over the dirt. The jade tree got a plastic collar, which kept getting knocked out of place, so we tried wrapping it with plastic, and even sticking in dozens of bamboo skewers in all directions, to dissuade the digging. Nothing worked for long. We even ended up putting the pot on top of an upturned bucket to raise it higher above the window ledge that cats like to lie on, but Cabbages is very determined, and still managed to get in to dig!

The remaining two avocados got a shield of hardware cloth around the perimeter of the soil. That worked for a while, until Cabbages discovered she could just jump over the top. We ended up putting a box over the top, but it was too late for the avocado. We just needed to stop her from making a mess. When she started digging, she throws dirt everywhere! She knows not to try for it while we’re around, too, so we’d find the mess in the morning, of after we’d been outside for a few hours.

Well, she still managed to get the box off the top and get into the dirt again. She also got into the jade tree again. So today, my daughters got the pot outside. The remains of the avocado were removed, and the jade tree was transplanted into the bigger pot. The hardware cloth got wrapped around it again, and the extra piece I had left from the roll got folded over the top as a cover. Then it went back to the shelf at the dining room window.

This evening, I went into the dining room only to find David lounging on the table – they are not allowed on the dining table – so at first I missed it. My husband was coming in behind me and saw it right away. The hardware cloth that was on top was gone, the rest was askew, and there was dirt, everywhere.

I was not a happy camper!

This time, it looked like Cabbages got under the mesh. The cover for the water reservoir was knocked completely off, too. We found the wire mesh that had been on top, rolled up under the dining table, with Tissue curled up inside. !!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The hardware cloth got placed around the jade tree again, but instead of putting it on the inside of the put and pushing it into the soil, it was jammed between the inner and outer pots. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long enough anymore, so the piece that had been over the top was squeezed in, too. Then, we got the remains of a roll of 1 inch wire mesh and used that to create a top.

The wire mesh on the sides has been pushed down quite far between the two layers of pots, so there’s no way a cat is getting under it or lifting it out. The 1 inch mesh on the top is wider than paws, so if a cat tries to jump on top, it will hold the weight, but little paws will tend to slip through, which will be a deterrent.

The down sides are, we can no longer use the opening in the corner to water into the bottom of the reservoir, and watering from the top is going to be a challenge! We also can’t reach the plant to tend it. The top is held in place with a couple of twist ties, but the wire ends along some edges were also bent inwards, to help hold it in place. It can be taken off, but it’ll be a pain in the butt.

It should, however, finally be safe from Cabbages and her digging!

This poor plant!

The Re-Farmer

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