Finally we can say spring is coming! With the warmer weather we start thinking about spring planting and summer gardens. More and more of our feline friends are heading outdoors in catio’s and on leashes. While this is great for environmental enrichment it does mean we need to pay a little bit more attention to what we are planning for our outdoor spaces.
Of particular interest is what we plant in the garden. We see the common Facebook posts about staying away from Lilies but what about Tulips (toxic) or a Rose of Sharon (safe)? There are so many gorgeous plants it can get quite confusing. Thankfully the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has put together a quite extensive on-line list of plants in relation to cats, dogs and horses. The list can be found at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants and has filters to use for easy searching. Choosing safe garden plants has never been easier.
If we want to plan something that our cats will love in our gardens the most popular, kitty approved plants would be catnip and/or cat grass.
Catnip of course is an obvious choice. In general it’s easy to grow and some varieties spread rapidly. There is the odd cat that will dig up the plants but typically until the leaves are broken they will normally leave the plant alone. You may recognize the lovely purple flowers some varieties of catnip have from our front gardens at The Cat Clinic.
Cat Grass would also be a popular, kitty approved choice. Cat grass is normally a variety of several grasses that cats may nibble on but oat or wheat grass tends to be the most popular. For extra fun these are also easily grown indoors.
Spider Plants are a pretty house plant but it will also grow in hanging baskets on your patio as a safe option for kitty chewing. And the dangly leaves can add extra fun as something to bat around. (Probably not so fun for the plant)
For other kitty fun, think of plants that can create fun hiding places or climbing fun. Asters, Cosmos, or Sunflowers can all be pretty, fun and provide good cover.
Outside of plants, ponds are always a hit, just make sure kitty has to sit far enough from the edge that they can’t actually catch the fish.
Bird and Squirrel feeders if placed in a way that kitty can watch, but not catch, can also provide hours of entertainment. Just make sure to check with your local bylaws for rules on “feeding the wildlife”.
If you’re providing climbing fun, try and make sure there is a softer, stable surface for kitty to land on. Pea gravel for example could make your cat slip and cause injuries.
With a little bit of forethought and supervision, outdoor fun can provide hours of safe, enjoyable entertainment for both you and your cat.
Do you have any other ideas for safe outdoor fun? We’d love to know!
Written by Angelina Johnstone RVT