Easy steps to a cat friendly garden

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Unless your cat lives exclusively indoors, they’re likely to spend a lot of time in your garden. To ensure they’re comfortable, occupied and, most importantly, safe while outside, it’s worth putting some thought into how you can adapt your garden to better suit your pet.

We asked pet friendly gardening experts at Wyevale Garden Centres for their advice and here’s what they had to say on how to create an outdoor space that both you and your cat will love.

Choose your plants carefully

There are some kinds of plants that your cat will love, while others can be quite harmful. Here’s a run-down of which varieties you should plant, and which you should steer clear of. If you’re relatively new to gardening, take a look at Wyevale Garden Centres’ simple guide to successful planting to ensure you give any new shrubs and flowers the best chance at surviving.

Good plants

  • Catnip: This is an obvious option, but a great one. While most cats won’t react to this plant unless its leaves are bruised and, therefore, releasing the active compound Nepetalactone, they’ll become incredibly playful and tire themselves within 10 minutes once exposed to it.
  • Cat mint: While quite similar to catnip, cat mint produces clusters of lavender-blue flowers, making it a much prettier option.
  • Lemongrass: Adding a patch of lemongrass to your garden will create a nibble-friendly treat for your cat.
  • Valerian: This herb is best known for helping people to relax and get a good night’s sleep, but it works as a stimulant for cats. It can turn even the laziest of felines into exercise machines. Plus, your pet might even see it as a tasty snack, making it the perfect cat-friendly plant.

Harmful plants

  • Amaryllis: Amaryllis plants are a type of lily and contain Lycorine, a substance that is toxic to cats if ingested.
  • Autumn crocus: Also known as Meadow Saffron or Naked Lady, these plants are highly toxic and can cause issues such as liver or kidney damage, respiratory failure, and even death.
  • Azaleas: These plants contain grayanotoxins, which disrupt sodium channels affecting the skeletal and cardiac muscle. When ingested, they can cause vomiting, an abnormal heart rate, and weakness.
  • Cyclamen: Also known as the Persian Violet and Sowbread, Cyclamen plants contain irritating saponins. When any part — especially the tubers or roots — is ingested, it can cause cardiac problems, seizures and could even be fatal.
  • Kalanchoe: These plants contain naturally occurring poisons called cardiac glycoside toxins, which affect the heart.
  • Golden Pothos: Commonly known as Devil’s Ivy, this is part of the Araceae family. Both the stems and leaves of these plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which can cause tissue irritation and swelling if chewed.

These are just some of the plants that can harm your cat. For more information, check out Pet Poison Helpline’s extensive list of poisons you should avoid exposing your pet to.

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Provide shelter

Regardless of what the weather’s like, your cat will want to explore outside, so it’s important that your garden provides them with shade when the sun is shining and shelter when it inevitably rains.

Trees and large bushes do a fine job, but you could use this as an opportunity to get creative. If you’re willing to put the time and effort in, it’s possible to create a quirky and comfortable haven for your cat that’ll look great in your garden. So, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, check out Safe House Animal Rescue League’s guide to building an inexpensive outdoor cat shelter and give it a go!

Avoid using chemicals

You should keep garden chemicals safely shut away and keep your cat out of the way when using them. Or, better yet, avoid using them whenever possible. The likes of slug pellets are poisonous, so it’s best to use a non-toxic type of slug-control, or cover treated areas with chicken wire so your pet can’t get to them. Some types of weed killer — primarily those containing paraquat — can be incredibly harmful, too, so keep this in mind if you ever need to use one.

Additionally, rat and mice poisons are hazardous. Your cat could be affected by eating the bait itself, or catching poisoned rodents, so it’s important that you keep an eye on what poisons are being used by you and your neighbours.

Create an area where they can do their business

It’s worth creating a cat toilet in your garden, as this will deter your pet from doing their business elsewhere. You can do this by digging a hole and filling it with gravel. Then, cover this with a thick layer of dry sand. At first, it’s a good idea to place some litter from your cat’s indoor litter tray in this spot to let them know where they’re supposed to go.

Much like with their litter tray, you must keep the outdoor toilet clean and might even want to switch out the sand if you feel it’s gotten too dirty.

Every cat owners wants their kitty to have the best life possible, so – as the seasons turn – remember that cat friendly gardening is a year-round task so follow these simple steps to upgrade your garden to suit their needs. Making even the smallest of changes can be a huge step towards keeping your cat – and you – happier.

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