The Q&A Archives: Treatment for Planter Used as Cat Box

Question: I have a large terra cotta pot. As there is only soil and no plant in it yet, my cats use it as a litter box from time to time. I am going to get rid of the soil but do I have to treat the pot? Will the cat feces and urine ruin my terra cotta pot?

Answer: I've never been asked this before, and don't have a definite answer, but because terra cotta is porous, some cat urine could perhaps seep into it over time. However, since you say it is a big pot, and there is soil in it, I assume most of the urine is absorbed before it reaches the terra cotta. I wouldn't think there would be sufficient quantity to leach out and be detrimental to plants (after changing the soil, of course). You could empty the soil and apply a pottery sealant to the interior of the pot. Other concerns: If the pot does absorb urine, it might smell overtime, especially in the heat. Cats are creatures of habit, and once they figure out that plant pots make an attractive litter box, it might be difficult to retrain them, or to dissuade them from using other pots, such as houseplants, for the same purpose. I guess it depends on how well-trained your felines are! Good luck!

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