Gardens can provide a sensory experience for your feline friend, as well as a safe space for them to exercise or hide away. By taking a few extra precautions, you could also protect other wildlife that visits your garden, or keep a section of your garden cat-free to grow your favourite plants.
Find out how to create a cat-friendly sensory garden, below.
Plants to avoid
Lilies are toxic and potentially fatal to cats, so should be avoided completely. Bulbs including alliums, amaryllis, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips can be dangerous to cats, as can cyclamen, poinsettias and rhododendrons. For a full list of poisonous plants, refer to the International Cat Care website.
Non-organic chemicals present in weedkillers and slug pellets can be harmful to your cat if they eat or come into contact with an infected plant or creature. If you do use non-organic chemicals, always follow the instructions on the packaging, and keep them locked away in a shed or garage. Find out how to control slugs and snails without chemicals and learn how to tackle weeds without chemicals.
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Plants they’ll love
The nepetalactone present in some nepeta (catmint) species has a natural, non-toxic euphoric effect on some cats, particularly Nepeta cataria (catnip). Valeriana officinalis (common valerian) is another favourite, which can create a similar effect to catmint due to naturally-occurring actinidine. Some cats will also enjoy chewing and nibbling on Dactylis glomerata (cat grass).
Play and privacy
Provide an area with varying height levels of secured logs for your cat to jump on, climb and scratch, or a climbing frame made of fence panels. They’ll love an area of privacy and shade, which you can create using grasses and shrubs. A private area with loose soil or dry mulch could also be used as a toilet.
Create a no-go zone
If you want to keep a particular section of your garden away from prowling paws, try incorporating plants with repellant smells such as Plectranthus caninus (also known as Coleus canina or ‘scaredy cat’ plant), or aromatic herbs like lavender, rosemary or Helichrysum italicum (curry plant), which some cats dislike and may avoid.
Cats are natural predators, so it's important to take steps to protect the birds and other wildlife that visit your garden. A bell on your cat's collar will help wildlife hear them coming. You could install a net beneath the water surface of ponds to keep fish safe and keep bird feeders out of reach and located by shrubs or trees so that birds can quickly retreat.