Create a cat-friendly garden your feline friend will love - BC SPCA
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Create a cat-friendly garden your feline friend will love

July 26, 2023

You’re out in the garden, watering the plants, and enjoying the sunshine when you notice that your cat is pawing at the door, wishing to join you. Allowing your cat outside time can be a good thing; she can enjoy the fresh air and exercise while also watching birds and wildlife (from a safe distance, of course).

If you’re unable to build a catio for your feline friend, creating a cat-friendly garden can be another option. An outdoor environment is beneficial to your cat’s stimulation, senses, and overall well-being. However, we strongly encourage allowing your cats to roam the great outdoors when your cat is under supervision. Using a cat harness is a great way to keep your cat safe.

If you’re ready to work your green thumb — or paw — take a look at our tips on how to create a cat-friendly garden your feline friend will love.

cat in garden with harness
Photo credit: Maryam Savory

Choose your plants wisely

What’s a garden without beautiful greenery? Plants provide necessary shade for your cat so she doesn’t get overheated, or as a shelter when it rains. While primarily carnivores, cats are also known to nibble on plants, which is why it’s important to keep harmful flowers and plants out of your garden. For example, lilies and cocoa bean mulch are poisonous to cats.

Cats also like to chew on grass, so you might want to include cat grass in your garden — a mixture of grass grown from seeds, such as wheat, barley, oats or rye — that can aid with digestion and hairballs.

If you have any questions about which plants or flowers to use in your cat-friendly garden, don’t hesitate to ask your vet.

Avoid the use of chemicals

The use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides can be harmful to your kitty. For example, slug pellets are toxic to cats. To be on the safe side you should use organic, pet-friendly alternatives. There are a number of different options available to purchase or DIY weed killers to make yourself. If you have any questions about which products to use, consult with your veterinarian.

Give them something to climb and get up high

Cats love to climb and perch from above. To prevent them from climbing on anything they shouldn’t be climbing, install secured perches or logs from which they can jump on and off (this is where putting down grass comes in handy as the purr-fect soft landing). If built vertically and made from wood these posts can also serve as makeshift scratching posts, which will save your trees from a hefty cat scratching.

Create spots to hide

A hiding spot for your feline friend will help her feel secure when she steps outside, especially if she feels there might be intruders around. An open garden might make your cat feel vulnerable, so implementing creative spots to hide, like dense bushes and foliage, or even building a mini shelter, will help her feel safe.

cat in garden looking

Provide a space for kitty necessities

Designating a piece of the garden as your kitty’s litter box will help prevent him from not using plants as his personal toilet. Consider using a patch of sand or pet-friendly wood chips with a roof so he’ll be able to use it rain or shine.

In addition to a garden litter box, it’s also a good idea to consider having a designated spot for food and fresh drinking water. However, ensure the water and food area is covered and protected from other cats and wildlife and only put food out when you are there to supervise.

Protect surrounding birds and wildlife

Cats are natural predators, so it’s important to protect the other wildlife that might come into contact with your feline friend when she’s outside. You might want to install a high fence around the garden to ward off any intruders (including other cats). Installing netting in and around trees and shrubs could also help prevent kitty from reaching any birds. If you cannot secure the entire perimeter of the garden with fencing then consider using tall and dense shrubs or hedges that can further protect both your cat and surrounding wildlife.

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