We all love cats. We also love to have a few houseplants around. So, it can be a problem if your cat ends up drinking water from the saucer of your houseplant.
Cats will drink from a plant saucer if they are thirsty. However, the soil and fertilizers used to grow plants can be dangerous to cats when ingested. Additionally, the soil might have parasites, pathogens, and unsafe organic material that could make your cat sick.
The onset of illness should not be taken lightly and the cat should be taken to the vet for further evaluation.
In this article, I will discuss what you could do to prevent such actions and the symptoms to look for if your cat drinks plant drainage water.
Will a Cat Get Sick If It Drinks Plant Drainage Water or Stagnant Water?
It feels as if there might be nothing wrong with cats drinking from stagnant puddles or places like a plant saucer.
But that might not always be the case. Plant saucers can have contaminants if the soil has any. Potting soil also often has fertilizers in it, which could be harmful.
Fertilizers, parasites, bacteria, any of these things from a puddle or a plant saucer can make your cat sick if ingested.
However, it might not always be the case. Your plant saucer might be completely safe. But it is still a risk and you should try to prevent your cat from drinking from such places.
Your cat can get sick, even if it has drunk once and not fallen sick yet. The sickness can be mild to heavy, depending on the contaminants in the water.
This is why it is generally a good idea to prevent your cat from drinking water from any stagnant water source.
What Does Plant Water Contain?
Potting soil contains fertilizers. Most probably your houseplant pots have fertilizers in their soil too.
Fertilizers can be poison to pets. You need to have a good idea of what the soil contains to know whether or not your cat could get fertilizer poisoning.
These fertilizers could easily just wash into the plant saucer when the plant is watered.
Invisible to the naked eye, the soil contains a lot of bacteria. A lot of these bacteria are harmless, but some can be deadly to your cat.
Which includes organisms for the disease Leptospirosis which can make cats very sick.
Plant drainage water contains everything that gets washed from the soil, fertilizers, bacteria, algae, fungi, etc. Algae and fungi can also sometimes be harmful to cats.
Chances are, your cat might not get sick at all. But it is always a good idea to keep an eye for any symptoms and contact the vet when necessary
Symptoms to Look for If Your Cat Drinks Plant Water
Bacteria and fertilizers could both cause problems for your cat through plant drainage water. Fertilizer poisoning can be more severe in kittens than in adult cats.
The bacteria found in plant saucer water most of the time does not make your cat sick, but you should go to the vet if you see symptoms.
The most prominent symptom can be seen in the stool of the cat. If any kind of poisoning or disease has taken hold you will notice it in the fecal matter.
Signs of indigestion or diarrhea can be seen. Vomiting and gastric problems are also symptoms of fertilizer poisoning.
You can also see the redness of the skin, eye tearing, and general unrest in the animal.
In other cases of diseases, you might see fever, dehydration, lethargy, and a loss of appetite. These can be attributed to bacterial diseases.
The most severe of these waterborne diseases is leptospirosis. If you see any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to go to the vet immediately.
How to Prevent Cats from Drinking Plant Water?
There are three things you can do to prevent your pets from drinking from the plant saucer or even eating the plant dirt.
- Do not overwater
- Reposition – Place on a height
- Use Barriers – Place stones inside the saucer
- Using a Cat Repellant
- Use Cat Grass as a Distraction
Do Not Overwater the Plant
Another good idea is to not water the plant to an extent that it puddles in the saucer or the floor. Plant saucers are there to manage if there is overwatering but it can be also very inviting to cats.
If you do not overwater, nine out of ten times there will be no water on the plant saucer. This is a very good practice both for your cat and your plant.
You could also try the alternative pet-safe methods I will discuss next.
To take the guesswork out of determining how much moisture your soil has, you can use this cost-effective soil moisture meter from amazon.
Reposition The Plant
The easiest way to prevent cats from drinking plant water is to put the plant somewhere the cat cannot reach.
Now as we may know this may be virtually impossible with how cats like to climb, but at least it will create some difficulty in accessing the water from the plant.
Maybe someplace high or maybe put it on top of a shelf or something. But that might not always be possible.
Caution must be taken when putting a plant on a height in order to curb a bad habit. The cat may attempt to access the plant and in doing so can topple it over causing harm to both the cat and the plant.
You should ensure that the plant is properly secured on the height to prevent any potential casualties. Also, see our post on the 7 safe places to put plants at home.
Using a Physical Barrier
Another thing you could do is put a bunch of rocks on your plant saucer. The rocks are there to create an obstacle. As long as the cat cannot directly drink the water, it could be fine.
You could in turn add obstacles around the whole plant pot itself if you feel that might keep your cat away from the plant saucer.
You can use old nets to cover the plant. This denies the cat access to the plant. It gives it zero chances of it using the pot so it will go to some other place.
Doing this is very important especially if you are away during the day or not monitoring the cat.
One product we found that works very well in keeping the cat out is sticky paws. This kept the cat out of the plant until the habit was broken.
Using a Cat Repellant
The function of the repellant works in a way that it produces a scent that is not enjoyable to cats.
This method works well on stray animals, especially if you have potted plants on the outside areas of your home.
To the cat, it is an odor. Cats will not rest in a place that smells unpleasant as the odor will keep the cat away from the pot.
A simple homemade repellant such as vinegar and water will do the trick.
Use Cat Grass as a Distraction
Cat grass proposes a tempting distraction to cats from your houseplants.
Cat grass is very easy to grow and can grow in almost any container. However, a flat rectangular container is recommended as it gives the cats easy access to eat and play with the grass without having to even come close to other plants in the house.
The cat and its territorial nature will know that the grass is his.
Check out the cat grass options on Amazon here.
Plant Saucer Alternatives (Pet Safe Plant Drainage Methods)
There are planters available that make the drip tray part unreachable for pets. These can be a wonderful solution to prevent your cat from drinking plant drainage water.
These trays are similar to the saucer and are used to “bottom water plants” with the saucer being built into the plant pot and the water is not exposed.
Some of these even hide the drip tray entirely. Such as this Sonder Planter Pot that hides the drip saucer that makes it unreachable for pets.
Another good idea you could try is planting plants in hanging pots. Hanging pots don’t have a drip tray and are always out of reach of cats so it can be a great idea for a pet-safe plant saucer alternative.
An additional pet safe method is adding a bit of decorative fence around the houseplant.
This makes the water out of reach for the cats while also not heaving to change the planting pot or relocating it. This can be especially handy if you have large houseplants.
Can Plant Drainage Water Contain Insects That Are Harmful to Pets?
Houseplant soil contains a lower number of insects than that of the outside. But they too have some insects living in the soil which can cause a few problems.
More often than not the insects do not wash into the drainage water but some parasites might appear. Stagnant water also invites many insects from outside so that can be a threat.
It is a good idea to keep a lookout for these things. You should throw out the excess water from the plant saucer as soon as you can.
Leaving stagnant water inside your household invites many parasites. Tapeworms, mosquitoes, and other parasites could take hold.
More often than not, the insects do not cause as much problem for your cat as much as the bacteria or fertilizer might.
If it is anything to be worried about, you should be able to spot symptoms of sickness.
In this article, we discussed what might happen if your cat drinks plant drainage water, why it could be harmful, and what are symptoms you should look out for.
We also discussed how to prevent your cat from drinking plant drainage water and also talked about some of the alternative methods that are safe for pets.
I hope this article was of some help to you. I tried to explain the details regarding cat drinking plant drainage water so you could have an easier time keeping your pet safe and healthy. Thanks for reading all the way through.
Farewell for now, and I wish you, your cat, and your houseplant, good luck.