Hey OB members and visitors -
I have seen several posts lately about people losing orchid leaves and spikes to their cat s). I can think of a several reasons for this, one being that the keen smelling ability of the cat may detect a scent (early nectar/) that you cannot smell and is attracted to the spike, OR the spike is something they rub their jaws on (marking it) and then start to chew, which is natural for cats as this also gets their smell on things. But, most likely it is because cats LOVE chlorophyll and the spike "is just right" for a healthy snack. Unless you have just used a pesticide, then you have bigger problems.
If you are having trouble with cats nibbling your Orchids (our cat Max seems to prefer Oncidium with a side of Maxillaria to be followed by a dessert of Masdevallia leaves and roots, if it is not too much trouble), try putting out pots of sprouted wheat or oats. Most supermarket pet areas are selling 'cat grass seed' just for this purpose. I place a pot of greens beside Max's food bowl and he stopped seeing my collection as his salad bar. Also, I take a handful of the bagged Spring Mix greens, let the preservative gas air out for a few minutes, then let him chose what he wants from it. If you can identify a lettuce or other green that he likes, grow a pot of that for him to mince on. Also, cat nip or cat mint is easy to grow and HARDY; some cats will chew on one of these, although some cats seem disinterested in them.
If it is a jaw-rubbing behavior - check your cats jaw teeth. He may be showing you he has sore gums. This is best corrected by vet care.
But EVERY cat loves his jaws rubbed, so this may just be a 'feel-good' thing for the cat which in damage to the plant. The plant may have to be moved or some form of repellent used to avoid this. Citrus peels in the pot used to work for a cat I had in the past - cats tend to avoid citrus smells, but if you find something that works for you - POST IT!
If it is territorial marking behavior, then your cat is either just a 'marker' or is feeling threatened and thus needs to reinforce his ego with a lot of his own smell. I also have purchased a plug-in defuser that lets a natural hormone loose in the home; the hormone has a calming effect (medical grade nip, anyone?) and is said to duplicate that of a cat who is secure. We bought it due to some urination issues we were having and it seemed to have the side effect of curbing the facial rubbing quite a bit. Noticeably in Max. Not that the lazy thing would turn down a facial rub, but he does not seem as bad about scrubbing his face on every surface!
Well, Max tends his own garden now, leaving mine alone. He is very possessive of his grass and when I remove it to give it light or water, he stands and stares
at me to return it. I always feel as if there is an unspoken understanding that it's "the grass or the Angraecum
", so I make sure there is an extra pot of cat grass sprouting in the house somewhere.
Hope some of this helps save some plants - In some cases you may just have to put the plant out of reach - perhaps hang it rather than let it sit. Because as you know, when it comes to cats, they have - well, if you have a cat you will finish that sentence without my help!