Creating a cat friendly garden
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Creating a cat friendly garden

Creating a cat friendly garden

One of my clients is a cat lover, and has several cats which use her garden. Many animal lovers are also plant lovers. With this in mind when planning a garden, whilst cats are

usually selective about what plants they nibble on, it’s also important to bear in mind that some plants and flowers are poisonous to cats.

So choose your plants carefully!

cat in garden

Plants that are safe for cats;

  • Catnip (Nepeta) – this is part of the mint family. Cats have a powerful sense of smell. When a cat sniffs it, they LOVE it. It makes them go all wild and happy, but it is not addictive. Best of all, it’s safe.
  • Silver vine (Actinidia polygama) – this is a climbing plant. Cats go absolutely crazy for this. Even more so than Nepeta.

Both of the above plants are really healthy for cats, as they stimulate their mood. These plants can be grown easily from seed. The plants can also be bought from garden centres.

  • Cat thyme; can also leave your cat feeling very relaxed.

All cats love all types of grass. Including the lemongrass plant and also cat grass. Cat grass (not to be confused with cat nip) is actually any type of grass that is safe for cats. Cat grass include; wheat, grass, oat and barley. Cats like to eat grass to bring up hairballs.


Herbs such as rosemary and parsley, are not only safe for your cats, but they are also good for them as they are full of vitamins. Rosemary is actually a really good flea repellent too.


Is perfectly safe for cats to eat, and can actually make a cat feel really good, acting as a stimulant. So similar to catnip.

At a glance; other plants available from garden centres that are fine for cats;
• Buddleia
• Hibiscus
• Gerberas
• Roses
• Sunflowers – also a great source of food for the birds!
• Nasturtiums
• Pansies
• Bamboo
• Lavender
• Herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint, sage and tarragon.

It is just as important to create an enriching outdoor space for cats, as it is their indoor space. This helps them feel safe and secure, and can prevent them from wandering too far away from their surroundings and onto dangerous roads.

Providing lots of interest and creating a cat friendly garden, can mean;

  • Your cat is less likely to get bored, and venture to neighbouring gardens where there may be plants and flowers that are toxic to them.
  • Your cat may become more independent, if they are usually clingy.
  • If there are lots of things for cats to explore, then the fitter they become.

The result; a healthier cat!

My client has more than one cat, so providing lots of interest, should result in less conflict if they have things for them to access on their own.

This can be achieved, by;

  • Creating places to hide; this helps cats to feel safe and comfortable outside. Preferably near the cat flap, so your cat feels particularly safe as soon as it goes outside. Open, bare spaces can make cats feel vulnerable and very exposed. They become frightened, for example when they see an unfamiliar cat on their territory. Dense, large foliage planted up in the garden can also provide a great hiding place for cats, allowing them to sniff and explore in.
  • Creating an area where cats can have a good scratch on; providing surfaces to help keep your kitty’s claws in top condition. This can be done horizontally or vertically.

Objects such as an old tree stump, or large branches put in the garden can not only provide a great scratching post, but also a place for your cat to perch on as well.

Alternatively, logs covered in rope can be used as a scratching post to save your trees from cat claws!

  • Creating sunny spots; where your feline friends can have a snooze. On dry days, you can leave old cushions and blankets out in the garden for your cat to have a snooze on. Or even create a cat house shelter.
  • Providing cats some height to climb on; cats love to climb. Adding places with height, such as high fences, shelves and tables means they can look out for danger. This will also make cats feel safer and be able to escape if they wish to.
  • Providing an area where cats can go to the toilet; such as an area with bark chippings, sand or loose earth which a number of feline friends could use, surrounded by plants and shrubs to provide some privacy.
  • Cat friendly plants; also planted up in large pots, where they can choose to hide and make them feel safe.
  • Provide an area of soft grass in your garden; if you can, to give your cat an area for a soft landing from heights.
  • Providing shelter from the elements; such as the rain, wind and cold. A wooden box or a cat house shelter is ideal.
  • Providing drinking water; leave out several dishes to collect rainwater. This helps to resolve any conflict with other cats if they all want a drink. Particularly on a hot day.

Some plants below I’ve listed at a glance that are toxic to cats;

  • Amaryllis; The stalks, flowers and bulbs are poisonous to cats. Signs of a cat eating Amaryllis, include vomiting and seizures.
  • Lilies; Hemerocallis and Tiger Lilies. Eating the pollen and leaves can be fatal to cats, causing kidney poisoning and death.
  • Daffodils; Daffodils induced by cats, can cause vomiting and even cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Rhododenrons; All parts of rhododendrons can cause serious damage to cats if ingested. Potentially leading to pneumonia, paralysis, haemorrhage, kidney and liver failure.
  • Taxus baccata (yew); affects the nervous system.
  • Morning Glory; Can cause hallucinations and G.I. tract problems.
  • Larkspur; If ingested, can cause paralysis. Sometimes death.
  • Poinsettia and oregano; These plants won’t cause serious poisoning, but will cause G.I. tract distress when ingested.

Plants that cause sickness and diarrhoea to cats;

  • Cyclamen (and heart failure).
  • Hyacinths
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Tulips
  • Crocuses
  • Ivy
  • Azaleas
  • Buttercup (in large amounts).
  • Iris
  • Crocuses
  • Foxgloves (all parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs and us humans, especially the roots).
  • Milkweed
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Wisteria (can be fatal, resulting in dehydration and death in some cases).
  • Oleander (all parts of it are toxic if ingested by a cat).
  • Mistletoe
  • Holly
  • Marigold
  • Peony
  • Oak

Avoid using chemicals.
And lastly, it may seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning that avoiding chemicals around your garden such as slug pellets and some weedkillers can be toxic to cats. So it’s a good idea to use organic, cat friendly alternatives.