Should I punish Kitty or let the plants die? Neither of these two situations can happen!
I have had lots of experience with cats, ever since I was a teenager. My mom is a cat lover and she had had cats all of her life, until I was born. At that time, my mom said she didn't want to expose me, so she gave away her cat to a neighbor. Although, I think it was my dad who didn't want the cat anymore!
Be as it may, we didn't have a cat until I was about 14. That's when mom brought home Dennis, a white and beautiful kitten. Then she brought Puiu ( Romanian for chicken), a grey one and, after him, it was Floricel (Romanian for flower boy), a beautiful Snowcone.
When I got married, my mom still had Floricel. She moved out to a smaller apartment, while me and my husband remained in our old apartment. At that time, I wasn't much of a cat nor a dog person. I loved them, but didn't want one in our home. But my mom did and she's had lots of cats and kittens ever since then. After Floricel died, she took Tina and Billy, a beautiful pair of Burmanese. She didn't neuter them, so they had lots of beautiful kitties and kittens. I was in charge to find homes for them - which wasn't hard, because they were too cute and they didn't cost anything - the people who would have wanted them, just had to be cat lovers, which we could indentify immediately. As cute as the kitties were, finally mom agreed to neuter both her cats.
Mom taught all of her cats to make their "business" into the bathtub, since we didn't have that special sand or any kind of litter box in our country - which appeared on our market later, only a few years ago. I remember mom using a usual sand in a box as litter box, but it was too messy and it also smelled bad, so she finally gave up and started to train her cats to use the bath tub, which was easier to clean.
Knowing that behavior of all mom's cats, I wasn't worried at all when I finally got a cat of my own, in my home. Kitty brought such happiness into my life and into our home, so much that anything she did - whether good or bad - it was forgiven.
When we got Kitty, my husband wanted her to stay outside and be useful - meaning, to catch mice! We already had Minnie for that and she is very good at catching critters. But since cats are those who, genetically, are catching mice, I thought it was okay - as long as she would have stayed inside during the night.
Things were going well with Kitty, she was loving and cute, she was using her litter box, yet she didn't want to use the cat scratching board, although I rubbed it with catnip. Kitty loved scratching the couch instead, to my husband's despair. It was an old couch anyway, so why get mad at the poor Kitty?
I don't understand how my mom convinces all of her cats to scratch on a wooden board she has had for years! Even Kitty does that at my mom's, but wouldn't do it at my place. I tried a simple wooden board too, but she even wouldn't look at it.
Yet, that wasn't the worse thing Kitty did. Well, maybe it's too harsh to say 'worse' because, in fact, she is a cat and acted like one. One day, I found some dirt on the floor, near a huge Dracaena pot, I have in the hall. It was a deep hole in the pot, so I imagined that Kitty must have played in there, like she was playing in the garden - didn't have a clue about what was really happening, because I didn't know why are the cats digging in the dirt! The dim light in the hall played a trick on my old eyes, because I just cleaned the mess, put the dirt back into the pot and covered the hole. The next day I found dirt near the pot again and it troubled me somehow, but for me, Kitty could do anything and I wouldn't have gone mad - it was just my little baby, playing! I grabbed the broom and swept the dirt, then put it back in the pot. When I tried to level the small hill at the surface of the pot, I had an unpleasant sensation, when I found something hard. I told myself it might be a small rock, from those I usually put at the bottom of the pot - only it wasn't that hard...phew, it was pooh! What did you do, Kitty? That's why it smelled like this...oh, my poor plant!
I had some fresh soil in a bag, so I emptied the whole pot outside, in the garden, then filled it back with soil and planted the Dracaena back in its pot.
Don't think that I got too upset - no, nothing like that! It would have been a mistake to say anything to Kitty, long after she did what she did. But I started to watch her and her litter box, because it was obvious that she didn't want to use it anymore. I saw her doing this outside, in the garden, but it didn't occur to me that she could do this inside too - and not in her litter box, but also in the dirt. And where else could she have found dirt indoors, other than in the plant pots?
These happened during the winter, when she didn't go out anymore - I wouldn't let her out in the snow and freeze, would I, so, why blame the poor kitty? First I let her outside, then I don't let her out anymore, but hope that she would act like an indoor cat. Kitty must have been so confused!
I asked some of my American cat lover friends - here, on Dave's Garden - what should I do. They gave me a good idea, of covering the soil with aluminum foil, all over the surface of the pot. Do you think Kitty was fooled by this? No, she wasn't, because she used another soil, in another pot! I put foil on that pot too and on all other big pots, whatsoever - just in case!
It wasn't the next day, but a few days day later, when Kitty ripped off the aluminum foil on "her" pot and dug into the soil. I replaced the foil, but she tore it and used the soil in the pot again!
I asked for help again and received a very good idea, to use some old tiles, to cover the surface of the pots. I actually had lots of leftover tiles, since the construction of our house. It turned out that, even if they were so many, they were barely enough. I had to lay at least two tiles on each pot, so that Kitty won't be able to reach the soil anymore - and you know I have many pots! I managed to cover all bigger pots, those which Kitty "visited" the most.
From then on, things got back to normal and Kitty started to use only her litter box. I finally did it! And no plant died, which was even better.