Cats eating plants

jasdipSeptember 18, 2006

I have 2 cats who for the most part leave my plants alone.

However, they love my parlour palms, (Neantha bella), and my lucky bamboos. I actually have my palms on upturned pots to try and keep them out of their reach.

The LB's I don't care about, they are inexpensive and a fad, but my palms I would like to see grow to full height and maturity.

I sprayed some nasty-tasting stuff on them found at the pet store. If I accidentally spray my hand or me, and then touch my mouth, this stuff tastes evil.

But lo and behold, Smudge was over, nibbling on my palm once again. Does anyone have any advice what they use on certain plants that are tasty to cats?

I also have some cat grass, but they uproot it regularly when they are eating it and it makes a mess. The cat grass doesn't last long with them, either.

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Jas, why not sprinkle Cayenne Pepper around the rim/edge of the pot? It successfully worked for most people including myself when I had a cat who liked certain plants. Toni

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:04PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Not sure the pepper's a good idea, especially for cats. Have heard cautions against this, as if they get it on their paws & then are licking & washing their faces, it can get in their eyes, & cause a lot of stinging & burning. Pls. remember pepper is an irritant.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:40PM
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Karen, I love pets, especailly birds, cats and dogs..I'd never intetentionally do anything to hurt a cat. I used Cayenne Pepper w/my cat w/o problems. All it did was keep cats away from the plant. They sniff the odor before reaching the plant and steer clear..Cat's are smart, and know what to sniff and what not to. Toni

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:58PM
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I'm not sure that I would do that either, Toni.
I've read for the same reasons, you shouldn't use cayenne pepper to keep squirrels at bay, either.
I did spray hot pepper sauce on the leaves (as per one suggestion on the web a year ago) but I thought the leaves were turning brown, so I stopped that immediately.
I might try the red pepper,as a last resort only because my plants are up off the floor and they wouldn't be able to get their paws into the dirt.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 7:43PM
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joy4me(z6 NY)

I have to agree that hot pepper can cause problems. Though most pets are smart and have good instinct...there is always that one nummy.

Case in point: This is going back a number of years now. An elderly lady had a cat that that wouldn't leave her grassy plants alone. Out came that pepper. Cat gets pepper on paws, licks, rubs eyes and proceeded to go crazy with the burning. Long story short, The mess that cat made to the rest of her plants while jumping and throwing himself around was NOT worth the cure. She had broken pots and plants all over. Had a vet bill on top of that where the poor cat cut his paw on a broken pot. Some animals are more sensitive than others. You know what they say about curiosity and the cat. That goes for other animals too.!

There are products on the market to keep animals away from plants. Just can't recall the name just now.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 8:50PM
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Hi Sherry,

This may be a battle that you may not be able to win. I have had several generations of cats over the years and I can tell you that there are a few plants that I cannot have out within their reach. One in particular is the parlor palm. I have mine on the top shelf of my plant stand where my cats can get. Another one is my spider plant. If it wasn't hanging from the ceiling my cats would devour it. As it is they jump for the hanging babies. I don't think it's the plants as such. It's what they look like to the cats. I have noticed that anything that looks like grass is in danger of being devoured. If you can put your parlor palm somewhere where your cats can't get to it.

I have used apple bitters to no avail. I've never used cayenne pepper. I've been a little afraid to with some of the warnings I've heard. I wish I had a concrete solution for your problem. I really don't. Cats really are independent little animals. I have found that when there is a war of wills, they generally win. lol

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:03PM
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I agree with Larry. You are fighting a losing battle. Either keep the plant where the cat absolutely cannot get to it, or resign yourself to a chewed up plant. Of course there are other options, like get rid of the plant. Or the cat.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:13PM
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Ditto on the lost battles for me. When I had cats, my plants were in more danger from my cats than my cats were from my plants. I think they purposely defied me. They'd chew, scrape, drag, destroy plants, use the pots as litter boxes and run away when they got caught, sometimes with leaves in their mouth (I could swear they had a mischievous and satisfied look on their face). I tried everything. They laughed at me. They found ways around my sprays and small efforts to dismay them. My home become dysfunctional over time...LOL...

So instead of jumping through hoops, I began prevention. I covered the tops of soil, moved plants up so the cats couldn't reach them and created barriers around them. One of my cats was so upset at losing the accessibility of the spider plant that she spent two days climbing the nearest book shelf and leaping towards it. She was unable to get to it and finally gave up the effort. I could swear she gave me the evil eye as she walked away in defeat, grumbling all kinds of curses and voodoo spells...LOL...

With prevention and a little imaginative relocation of plants, we all finally lived in harmony. I had cats (4 adult cats and many kittens now and again), dozens of plants, a couple of kids and a couple of adults living in peace.

You can have it all with strategic planning :)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:44PM
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I have two cats, but just one is deemed the "plant nibbler trouble maker" Larry's advice was good, you need to put your palm out reach, either on like a pedestal or maybe in a bedroom near a window and keep the door closed.
I would never use any chemicals, pepper, or any kind of hot sauces near my pets, you never know what kind of reaction/pain they might suffer because iif it.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 10:36PM
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LOL, naturelover, that is a funny mental picture, your cat hurling herself off of the bookshelf in the direction of your spiderplant. I have my spiderplant hanging JUST out of our little nibbler's reach where she hangs out in the top of her cat jungle-jim. Consequently she spends most of her time with her head hanging over the edge gazing at it longingly. When I take it down to water it, I swear she goes nuts. This cat is not determined about ANYTHING in life - you never saw a more laid back creature, but I cannot keep her away from the Spider plant. Ponytail palm is the same deal. And you should hear the jangling, mournful cries when I wrench her off of the kitchen counter for the fifth time while trying to water....


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 11:06PM
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Thanks so much everyone!!
I guess I'll just resign myself to the fact, that Smudge loves my Parlour Palm. You're so right Larry and Nature. I'm trying my best to keep them up out of their reach (I have 3 palms). I love these elegant palms and I have to restrain myself never to buy any more. I'm constantly going around searching for high places for them, and by trial and error. The "errors" are obvious by the short nubby leaves. LOL
Thanks again guys!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 1:38PM
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Scbnymph(z5 NY)

Mine LOVES the Pony Tail Palm and Lemon Grass!!! He's sneaky about chewing on them to, the only way I really know what he's been up to is when I discover the warm brown vomit on the floor, leaves and all! He's taken to just eating the dirt these days as well, guess I'm gonna have to mulch all the house plants!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 4:29PM
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I just sprinkled my plants with red pepper because I don't think red pepper is that bad for the cat at all. Once he will find out it's HOT, he will stop chewing on the plants. I love taking care of my plants and I nurse them indoor. While I am able to protect my seedlings with a chicken wire, I am not able to place my plants in a tall place because my apartment is really small. These latter plants are all chewed up and they became unattractive. My cat also decapitated one plant and it looks horrible.

So, since spanking my cat is useless and it only teaches her to fear me, I sprinkled my plants with red pepper. When she will taste my plants again, she will not try to do it any more.

Meanwhile, I just sowed some catnip seeds under grow light. THAT will be the only plant that I will not sprinkle with red pepper.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 3:40AM
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I used to have that problem with my three cats eating plants. I just stopped buying floor plants and, I just placed table plants in cute decorated bird cages. I also have a shelf in my bathroom and place my other plants under the skylight. If you live in an apartment. You can also use large bell jars to keep your cats away from the floor plants.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 9:55PM
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We tried hot sauce on some cords to keep a cat from chewing on them before- we were afraid he would electrocute himself, and figured hot sauce was a better alternative to electrocution. It worked and he stopped chewing electric cords- but after he ruined the cords to the wii sensor bar, a shark vacuum, and the surround stereo.

I just tried putting hot sauce on a plant, but my cats could care less. They go right up to the plant, sniff it, and then eat it. One cat rubbed her head on my hand while it reeked of hot sauce. I guess these particular cats are fond of spicy food. I was looking for other natural alternatives- my husband wants to spray hairspray on the plants! I don't think that will be good for the cats or the plants!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:41PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls. do not put red pepper or any pepper on plants as deterrents from animals!

It's not the taste that's a problem; if the cat gets hot pepper flakes in its eyes, it will not be a good thing, I'd be prepared to got to the vet ASAP!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:05PM
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What if the plant the cat likes to eat IS a hot pepper plant?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Like one of the other members, I have an enormous parlour palm that has been with me for years and is ceiling height. It's in a beautiful Chinese pot and is, really, like a piece of furniture in my living room. I've not had any trouble with other cats, but my new Maine Coon, still a kitten (although she's already as big as most full-grown cats), stands on the arm of the couch, eats the leaves, and -- worse -- pulls on the branches, breaking them. There's no way to move the plant or the couch. Here's what I came up with: I bought cellophane wrap -- the stuff people wrap gift baskets in -- and wrapped the plant loosely to a height she can't reach. I can still see the plant, and the plant gets light. So far, so good. It helps to have two people when wrapping the plant. I am still waiting, though, for the day she figures out that she has claws that will rip the cellophane!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:42AM
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I have 3 cats and 50 plants...i feel your pain.

I have a dracaena that my cats loved to eat so i did two things and they seem to work for me.

1. I mist my cats if i see the eating a plant, lol it works. I only had to mist them twice now all I do is show them the bottle.

2.The thing i had the most luck with was to plant a philo in the pot around my dracaena, once they smell that they leave the plant alone and it makes the pot look nice as well (very big pot). i dont let the philo grow large, i cut it back regularly.

If you have trouble with cats digging or pooping in your soil, put seashells on the surface and they leave it alone. (had that problem and that worked for me!) Be sure shells are clean and free of salt.

Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:41PM
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A cat topic that indirectly ask, how dumb is a cat.

A cat that knows what an owner looks like when holding a mister bottle after two sprays has the hardest time distinguishing if the same owner is asleep ?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:45PM
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    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Perhaps implying that when you sleep the mister isn't an effective defense.

....................unless he meant to say that I own a cat.

nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh coincidence. :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:21PM
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It's no coincidence that felines are very highly skilled hunters
What is coincidence pound for pound the feline remains very content in knowing they have far better hunting skills than we do. If you waited this long to read how you thought you had a pet that can be disciplined enough to avoid a plant next time try mist spraying a lion.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Well, the things about forums is that we are here to help each other, yet if you only post to condemn (basically make fun) an idea...why post at all??? Do you truly have nothing better to do? If so....very sad lol

Also, your comment makes no sense...

These aren't wild animals. True, they came from wild animals and still have basic instinct but it doesn't change the fact that these are domestic animals.

You think wolves aren't good hunters?? lol Guess where dogs came from....and look at how they are trained. Yes, dogs are easier to train but I have taught my cats to sit and stay on command. I am currently training the youngest to fetch with great success.

Anyway, I have no intention of hijacking this thread in order to argue with you, I am simply trying to give an answer to the question that was asked, an answer that WORKED for may not work for everyone, but it did for me.

If you continue this foolishness, I hope the mods see that you are not helping in any way, just trying to stir things up and remove your comments.

Regardless, I am done with this.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 7:33AM
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"Done with this"

By that I certainly hope you mean that you are done with this thread(although I wish you weren't),and not gardenweb as a whole. It's really nice to see people posting here again now that spring is upon us(most of us anyway)and your voice is appreciated by myself and many others I'm sure.

The "cat eats plant" threads always get a little edgy around here and can get pretty heated at a moments notice. My guess is that most of us aren't so lucky as to have cats who will obey, when someone says that their cats are under control it makes us do a doubletake. Training a cat is NOT impossible and I've seen with my own eyes...but let's face it,'s not that common. No way I could tame a savage beast so I just stick to my plants.

Seriously though,..please don't leave. :(

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Hey Tuck,

Yes, please don't leave. As asleep said, things can get a little heated on these cat threads. I got into it with somebody a few years ago on a cat thread and it was really unpleasant. Of course I thought I was on the right side of the argument, but I'm sure the other person didn't think so.

If your cats behaved after only two sprays of a water bottle, you are very fortunate. That won't happen with my cats. They know that I will spray them while I'm in the room, but once I leave the room the plants are fair game again. I have read this to be true for most cats in articles about cat behavior. It's the same for keeping the cats off the tables and the counters. They know to stay off of them while I'm in the room, but when I go to sleep there are telltale signs that they've been up where they weren't supposed to be during the night.

When my wife and I moved in together I had to explain to her that if one makes a sandwich in a house with a cat you had better make it on a cutting board or plate, Because you can be assured that the cat had been walking up there some time or another.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 7:11PM
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I moved in with a friend with two cats, and they're bound and determined to chomp on my peace lilies, which are toxic to them. I spray the cats when I see them near any of the plants (I don't "mist" them ... I crank that sucker to "zing from 6 feet away"). Yes, they've learned what the spray bottle is, they tear out of the room if I pick it up. I also leave it sitting next to the plant.

Yes, I'm pretty sure they know that I can't spray them if I'm not there. They don't leave my plants alone entirely, but the incidence of chomping has gone down considerably from my first couple of weeks in the house. I mist the plants in the morning, and so every day starts with the threat of being squirted. They hate the sound of the spritzer.

So my answer is: terrorize them with water until they decide to behave (which they may never do, but at least you feel better having squirted them and insulted their dignity).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:11AM
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My younger cat is obsessed with eating plants too, and he's freakishly smart. He was born as a barn cat, from a family of barn cats going back several generations, so he's nature-bred to be smart. My sister refers to him as the Border Collie of the cat world.

He became obsessed with the lucky bamboo I had on my altar. I tried aluminum foil, but that only worked for about two days before he figured out he can put his front paws up on the edge of the altar and just reach over and yank the vase with the bamboo over and pull out the plant that way.

He also outsmarted the double-sided tape I put all around the edge of it. By this point, my altar didn't even look like an altar anymore...

And as someone else has pointed out, you can't be there with a squirt bottle every minute of every day, and a smart cat will learn your schedule and quickly discover that if he waits until you're asleep or out of the room he can still get away with chewing the plant.

It really depends on the cat, but some of the other ideas I've found:
-pinecones in the soil,
-bits of astro turf with the prickly side up (my coworker, who adopted a kitten from the same litter as my cat, said this worked well with hers),
-citrus oil (most cats don't like the smell of citrus of any sort, but again this might not work with all cats)
-Plastic forks around the rim of the pot, sticking out enough that the cat can't get too close.
-Bells or other noise makers attached to the plant (at the very least it can alert you to when your cat is chewing on it)
-Adding some healthy plant material to your cat's diet can also help, apparently because it satisfies the cat's need for chewing plants.
-Placing a bird cage over the plant. You can find some huge cages, the ones meant for Amazons, Cockatoos, Macaws, etc. for reasonably cheap on various sites, or you can just shell out for a new one and turn it into an indoor greenhouse or something. The ones they make for macaws and larger cockatoos can be up to 6 ft tall by 6 ft wide or larger, and are pretty easy to thread grow lights through too.

This is a really difficult behavior to stop, because it's an instinctive behavior. The cat's brain is insisting that it's SUPPOSED to be doing this. The best method may be a combination of deterrants and a few plants that the cats are actually encouraged to chew on.

That's what I'm doing with mine: they'll have their own container, a low-set terracotta pot (about 10" across, low and heavy so they can't knock it over too easily) full of catnip, wheat grass, etc. I figure I'll use the deterrants on the other plants and then reward the kitties when they chew on the Kitty Garden. Eventually they'll learn that it's okay to chew on those plants (and more satisfying), but not the others. I used the same method to training my older cat to stop kneading my scalp in the middle of the night, and it also worked wonderfully with training the younger one to keep his claws in while playing.

One last note: According to the ASPCA, my cat's vet, and the local gardening stores, Dracaenas (including lucky bamboo) is NOT SAFE for cats (or dogs).

Oh, and there's also a guy on You Tube that made a "Cat Grass Bed" for his indoor-only kitties. It looks pretty simple and his cats seem to love it. I'll post the link if I can find it again.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:29PM
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So here's the dude on YouTube with the Cat Grass Bed:

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Grass Bed

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:44PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

My grandmothers cat oreo would always chew my lucky bamboo. I should have misted that MISERABLE CAT!!! I never liked oreo

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:40AM
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Good idea get the kitty his own chlorophyll that way there it will still chomp on the other green things as well as the grass bed, who knows maybe it'll even speed the slow moving inner plant toxins
Anybody check the prices on cat kidney infection operations as a vet yet ?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Thanks for the link to that cat grass bed! I've often thought that getting that cat their own plant to chew just reinforces a bad habit, but now I'm realizing that it's just providing indoor cats with a proper outlet for something it's simply in their nature to do.

I'm going to give it a try, and see if it makes them leave the poor peace lily alone.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:56AM
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I should have misted that MISERABLE CAT!!! I never liked oreo


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:02PM
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If it were me,I'd put all the plants in one room and lock the cats out. I know many(including myself)don't have that luxury,but for those who do,it's the safest bet. :)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Wow...a lot of great ideas on here. I have a very stubborn Maine Coon and he thinks it's the best gift ever to not only have a plant to chew on, but for me to put pebbles (I also tried fist sized rocks) or sticks in the dirt because he LOVES to use that extra thumb to plop those rocks & sticks onto our hardwood floor at 2am. Toby also loves water so the squirting doesn't work and loves to play with foil and celophane (I tried covering the dirt). And Toby loves spicy food so the cayenne pepper didn't work...he just licked the dirt. But I've also come to the same conclusion as most of you. Compromise. We've now got cat grass (a nice fescue) in a shallow sturdy 18" pot drainage tray for our cats to play in and the rest of my houseplants are either hung from the ceiling out of harm's way or out on our balcony. Call it a truce with the cats. They can enjoy their chlorophyl and instinct to chew/dig and we can enjoy some houseplants.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 1:26PM
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I have 2 cats and strongly suspect it's my older cat who's nibbling away at a newly-acquired "Bonnie" spider plant. Why the suspicion? We once had 2 different Dracaenas plants that she destroyed; and, our younger cat wasn't a part of the family yet.
Most spider plant owners find that they do not peacefully co-exist with their furry friends. We may still have some Bitter Apple in the house; and, may try that. However, the best hassle-free all around solution, if you can swing it, is to get your lovely plant out of reach from your pet. Hang it or put it on a tall piece of furniture and everyone will be that much happier.
The ASPCA does not recommend the use of cayenne pepper--too many complications that can really harm your beloved pet. So, readers who are considering its' use, need to look for better (above) solutions!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Is it possible to grow the plant in water with crushed red pepper to make it too hot for said kitties? My cat has stripped my lucky bamboo bare! D:

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Skydiver, I have some spider is hanging above my kitchen sink. It's growing, out of reach of Bud, but a PIA to water. I don't like hanging plants for that reason.

I have 2 other small spider plants on the kitchen window sill with the curtain bunched up to hid them. LOL.

AND I had a plant out of Bud's reach......I *thought* until I saw him....on top of the cabinet that is behind the toilet.....nibbling on it!!

Good grief, is nowhere safe from him and his greens? Apparently not!

I really, really discourage anyone from using hot pepper, hot sauce, cayenne, etc etc. Your pet's health isn't worth the risk. It's easier to toss, or better yet sell or Freecycle your plants. I think I'm going to Freecycle my spider plants.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 12:31PM
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I have also experienced problems with my cat. After researching, I found out that they do not like citrus and so I placed orange peels around my plants and it worked. If you don't like the look of just orange peels laying around try a pretty container to resemble potpourri.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 12:36AM
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