What plants will my cat enjoy?

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Are you constantly reading lists of which plants are toxic to cats? Here's more information about which plants are safe for cats, and plants that your cat will enjoy.

It's not just catnip that cats enjoy. Garden expert Graham Strong lists other plants that felines may enjoy.

Plants play an important part in making your garden a fascinating environment for your cat, as well as visually attractive for you. A mix of shrubs, foliage plants, and flowers of varying heights and density in their growth habits, plus a selection of climbers and trailers, will provide cover, movement, and noise, plus places to stalk or hide and watch from.

Easy-grow plants that are safe for your cat:

  • Bamboo — great for movement and rustling noises as they catch little breezes, although avoid invasive varieties that can easily get out of control.
     
  • Nasturtiums — wonderfully versatile as they can be used for ground cover, climbers, or trailing from hanging baskets.
     
  • Buddleia — a great addition as it will provide hours of entertainment for your cat — it’s not known as the butterfly bush for nothing!
     
  • Sunflowers — from shoulder high species to towering monsters, the blooms create colourful drama for you and, beneath them, a jungle for your cat to explore.

And don’t forget other garden favourites, including:

Coneflower, Zinnias, Snapdragon, Mahonia, California lilac, Lamb’s ears, and Cranesbill.

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Plants that your cat will love

No garden is complete without a few plants included specifically for your cat’s pleasure!

  • Catnip is easily grown from seed. Your cat can enjoy it growing in the garden, and you can harvest your own supply to add to toys with which to amuse him indoors too.
     
  • Cat thyme is even more attractive to some cats than catnip. Grow in full sun in well-drained soil.
     
  • Valerian may be preferred by those cats who lack the catnip ‘gene’.

Create a place for your cat to graze

Many cats like nibbling grass, so consider leaving a patch of lawn to grow long. Alternatively, grow some in a container — anything from a pot to a re-purposed washing-up bowl will do, depending on space available! Oat grass, often sold labelled as ‘cat grass’, is the most commonly available as seed.

Add more sensory interest to your feline ‘salad bar’ by adding deliciously fragrant herbs, including:

  • Sage.
  • Fenne.
  • Lemon balm.
  • Basil.

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Plants you should avoid when you have a cat

Not all plants are good! Although poisoning from eating plants is rare, it may occur from accidental ingestion; for example, while grooming the coat after lily pollen has fallen onto it. Some plants may also cause skin problems if your cat comes into contact with them, so do your research before setting off to the garden centre — and, if in doubt, do without! Lists of potentially harmful plants can be found by visiting icatcare.org.

Read more about which plants are toxic to cats here.

If you spot your cat eating something you suspect is poisonous, contact your vet immediately. Take a sample of the plant or, better still, the label with you, to help the vet to determine the best treatment.