jasonvanorder
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How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

So this will be my first time trying to grow anything from seeds. Just to give it a go before I plant peppers later this spring the kids wanted to grow some flowers for my wife for mothers day. don't have any good south facing windows so set up a space in the kitchen. Picked up a heat mat and a short fluorescent light.

Everything was going great kids had a ball getting dirty planting the seeds. Seed sprouted just fine then trouble started. We have 2 cats that never gave us any trouble. But now all they can think about is getting at the plants. They just love digging in the dirt and and ripping out anything that is growing. One has also taken a liking to the heat mat and will push everything out of the way just to lay on it.

So far i have put up tin foil to scare them off. Cut up cardboard boxes to build a wall around them and still the buggers keep getting in. I bought some cat grass to try to keep them out but nope not working. Anyone have any other ideas besides getting rid of them? Thanks all.

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applestar
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Re: Cat advice

I have a bedroom that is a cat-free zone. I used a doorway toddler gate with swing-gate from when my kids were little. It's a little taller than the kind that you can readily step over, then it was just a matter of training the cats not to go in there. Banging on the metal fence, shooting with water pistols and sprayers.... :twisted:

I keep most of my plants that the cats can't leave alone like lemongrass, ginger, African violet (they like to eat the blossoms as soon as they open, etc. And have an indoor seed starting station set up by the window it's heat mat and supplemental light.

If you don't have a room that you can block off, another option might be to put yours on a bookshelf, or a wire shelf, then rig some kind of door -- may be BBQ grill or oven rack grate, cookie cooling rack, etc. zip tied to a shelf or something above that can be swung up out of the way, etc. Or a piece plastic netting or fencing strung through wire to hang like a curtain or strung top and bottom to slide out of the way, or secured with little hooks....

You want it to be accessible for your children to observe and help take care of, so I'm trying to keep that in mind.

One other thing that may help is to give your cats some vegetables so they won't try to eat the seedlings. Our two cats each have their favorites -- one likes anything cucurbit (cucumber, zucchini, raw pumpkin slices, watermelon white part) and if I leave cucumber or zucchini on the counter, she will take bites out of them when no one is around, even though she is not allowed on the counter, The other one loves green beans fresh or frozen or cooked and lettuce (she LOVES lettuce -- I found out when I was trying to grow them on the kitchen windowsill) They both beg for raw or cooked broccoli and carrot peelings and corn to bite off the cob.
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catgrass
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Re: Cat advice

Plant them their own grass-I do for my cat-and she is an indoor/outdoor cat. I get "wheat grass" seed from the farm/feed supply store. I plant in a large shallow container. It grows rather quickly, and I have to throw it out when it starts browning and re-plant, but it keeps my cat from eating my other plants.
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Allyn
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Re: Cat advice

A windowsill with a heat mat, a container of dirt and a snack. That sounds like kitty heaven to me. I have no advice for you, but I can imagine how appreciative your cats where when you set up that ideal spot just for them.

"In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this." ~~Terry Pratchett

Maybe I do have some advice. Can you duplicate the setup (sans the grow light) with cat grass in a window that has a more interesting view? Cats like to sit in the window and watch things outside. If they have more interesting things to watch than what's outside the boring kitchen window, they might be inclined to munch cat grass and lay on the heating mat in that window instead. Or maybe they would just thank you for giving them each their own window, I dunno.

Of course, if you have a grow light, does it have to be in a window?

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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

We start ours in the basement then bring them up to hang from one of those hanging plant holders made of rope. We bought ours but all you really need is some hemp rope and a hook to screw into the ceiling. Just make sure to use one of those plastic things that help a screw hold on. Might want to ask someone at the hardware store in choosing the right parts for the sake of safety. Cats can't get at them but your kids might need to get up on a step stool to see them.

ccar2000
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

I do not have a cat problem but I bought a clear shower curtain at the local home improvement store to help keep the heat in my seed starting area in the greenhouse. It is very easy to see through, lets the light in and I can check for watering and sprouting without opening it. Is there a way you could "tent' your area to discourage the cats?
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imafan26
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

Some cats love dirt others leave it alone. It depends on the cat but a window sill and a heat mat, well that is too much temptation. Keeping the room off limits to the cats is probably the only way out of that. Giving the cat its own window sill and heating pad would be good too. My current cats don't bother plants but they like to sun behind the curtains. I also have 3 scratching pads. An empty box and a few cat toys to keep them occupied. I don't have a winter but I used to feed the birds on the tree just outside the living room window. The cats would sit in the window and watch them for hours. It was the best cat sitter.
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tomc
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

See "Kitten Bonsai" said the guy who has both kittens and bonsai. :0
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Meatburner
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

Jason, you will not be able to start flowers from seed for Mothers Day unless you have an elaborate indoor set up. Get some plants from a local nursery and get the kids involved in nurturing them for a couple of weeks before Mothers Day. As long as the kids have some involvement, they will be proud. As the cat issue, we have cats but they don't mess with our indoor starts so can't help you there my friend. We may just be lucky I guess.

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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

I also have 3 scratching pads. An empty box and a few cat toys to keep them occupied.
That's a good point! Giving cats their own things to goof around on is one of the recommended ways for keeping them from goofing on furniture and rugs. We have similar things in our house, including a cat tower parked in a sunny window and a bench in front of another.

jasonvanorder
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

Well the issue is the spot I have now is about the only spot our dog cant get to (bullmastiff) So its kind of a safe haven for the seeds and the cats. After thinking about it more last night I think I might just run over to the neighbors and borrow some chicken wire and form a cage around the flats to try to keep the cats out. As for the flowers by mothers day deal I knew it wouldnt work but who can turn down kids that want to get their hands dirty and grow something! Thats better than sitting in the house on an electronic device. Also did get some cat grass for them just gotta wait for it to grow.

imafan26
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

Yeah, some dogs think cats are toys. I used to have to separate my dog from the cats too. The dog weighed 76 lbs and he had a strong prey drive and he liked to chase and one of my cats always ran. The other two learned to stay where they were and ignore him. If they did not run, he lost interest, but I did not trust him alone with them. He stayed outside during the day and slept in a crate inside at night, and he was not allowed upstairs. I tried a baby gate but the cats jumped over it.

I haven't had a Christmas tree inside the house since 1996. We put the tree in the spare bedroom where the cats were not allowed. My cat then, loved ornaments and would knock the tree down to get to them. She would also dig out every orchid plant I brought home from a meeting and had in the house over night. The cats I have now have not bothered any of the orchids and sometimes the orchids stay in the house a couple of days. It really depends on the cats.
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jasonvanorder
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

So I think I found a solution to my issue. We have an extra china cabinet that my wife wanted to get rid of. Well took the top half down to the basement to get it out of the way. The shelves just happen to hold a starting flat perfectly. So I removed the top shelf to put a light in and plan on using the bottom shelf to put the heat mats and flats on. Our basement only gets to about 62-64 degrees so I'm hoping with it being enclosed I can keep it warm enough. Let's hope it works!

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applestar
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Re: How to stop cats from disturbing indoor seed sprouts?

Good idea! :D compared to my currently barely 40°F garage, your basement should be fine, especially since you have a heatmat.

Be aware of microclimates.

Once they germinate tomatoes will be fine in the 60's. Peppers will want to be about 5°F warmer so generally give warmer location to peppers, but brighter areas (like center of fluorescent light tubes) are better for tomato seedlings.
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