Your cat isn’t afraid to taste test your houseplants, but you’d both be happier if they had their own cat-friendly garden to keep them busy. There are several plants that are toxic to cats if ingested, but there is also a long list of plants that are perfectly safe. Not only are these cat-friendly plants harmless to all felines, they also taste and smell exactly to your cat’s liking. A cat garden made up of potted plants can bring the outdoors to your indoor-only cat and provide valuable enrichment. You could also start a garden in the yard for your outside kitties to enjoy. The key is knowing exactly what plants to include.
Here’s a list of the best plants to grow in a cat-friendly garden.
Of course the number one cat-friendly plant on the list is catnip. This edible herb can make your calm kitty roll and zoom around the house with delight. Cat people usually buy their catnip as a dried herb or already infused into a toy or scratch post. You can also grow your own with nothing but some dirt, a pot, and water. Catnip is relatively easy to grow and keep alive. It can get up to 3 feet high and sprout tubular-shaped flowers, but it’s not hard to keep under control when it’s in a pot. That’s especially true if your cat helps out with the trimming.
Did you know that catnip doesn’t affect 30% of cats? It’s a genetic thing, and those cats can eat and smell catnip without feeling any different than they did before. But that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the fun. Cat thyme is another herb that can act as a feline stimulant. It often works for cats that don’t react to catnip and is completely safe. Like catnip, it isn’t addictive, and it’ll make a great addition to your cat garden.
Mint is in the same plant family as catnip, and while it doesn’t have the same effects, cats still like it. Most cats love the smell of a fresh mint plant, and their curiosity often compels them to take a few bites. Mint is 100% edible, and it’s perfectly safe for cats. It grows well both indoors and in a pot as long as you have a sunny spot for it to sit.
You might have one of these plants in the house for your own enjoyment, but cats love them too. The spindly leaves are fun to play with, and a lot of cats like to take bites while they’re batting away. Little cat bites can make your houseplants look a bit raggedy, but that’s why you’re building a cat garden. With greenery all to themselves, your cat is more likely to leave your precious plants alone—in theory, at least.
Lemongrass is often an ingredient in Thai food, and it also makes a refreshing tea. And when you’re not using it in the kitchen, your cat will be happy to give it an up close inspection. Cats like to nibble on the tasty blades of lemongrass, and you don’t need to worry when they do. It’s another plant that is completely safe and a good choice for a cat garden. Don’t, however, get the plant confused with lemongrass essential oil. In oil form, it can cause liver damage.
If you want to add some flowers to your cat garden, valerian is a good choice. This perennial flowering plant can grow to five feet when it’s mature and living outside, but it can also do well in a more manageable indoor pot. They’re often chosen for outdoor gardens because their pink and white flowers attract pollinators. They’ll also attract your cat. Valerian can have a slightly stimulatory effect on cats, and it’s also known to relieve stress and anxiety.
Whether you go all-out with your cat garden or simply set up a few potted plants, your cat is bound to appreciate the effort. It’ll give them something to do during the day, and it might just keep them out of your prized flowers.