Whether your cat is an outdoor roamer or an indoor recluse, you can make your garden safe for them. Here are ten tips for growing a cat-friendly garden.

cat-friendly garden
A cat-friendly garden lets your favorite feline enjoy the outdoors safely.
Photo by Raquel Pedrotti on Unsplash.

Cats love the outdoors. Even an indoor cat can appreciate the sunshine in their favorite window. As cat staff, we do anything to keep our cat happy, from catios to perches and everything in between. If you want to keep your outdoor cat from wandering or give your indoor cat an outdoor environment to enjoy under your watchful eye, a cat-friendly garden is a solution. Here are ten tips for growing a cat-friendly garden.

Tip #1: Choose Cat-Friendly Plants to Put in the Garden

Research the plants you want to put in your cat-friendly garden. Go for things like hard-wearing shrubs for borders. Put delicate plants in pots so they don’t get trampled. Give your cat an area of grass that they can nibble to help bring up hairballs. Sunflowers, violet, bamboo, rose, lavender and snapdragons are all flowers that won’t hurt your cat. Parsley, sage, rosemary, mint, dill, basil, and tarragon are also favorites among cats. Warning: keep your mint under control or it will take over your garden. (I speak from experience!)

Tip #2: Avoid Plants That Can Harm Your Cat

While cats instinctively stay away from plants that are bad for them, it is still prudent to avoid plants that are not good for them. We don’t want our cat to accidentally sample something they shouldn’t. Lilies, marigolds, oak, foxglove, peony, rhododendron, and daffodils are just some plants to avoid. Also, make sure your cat doesn’t get into any mistletoe, holly, or poinsettias as they are poisonous to cats.

Tip #3: No Chemicals in Your Cat-Friendly Garden

Chemicals, such as weed killers and other garden products, can be harmful to your pets. Since you are planting things that they might eat or get on their fur, avoid using them. Take to your local plant store about organic alternatives that are also cat-friendly.

Brown, white, and tan cat in a cat-friendly garden
Give your cat places to perch in your cat-friendly garden.
Photo by Tomas Tuma on Unsplash.

Tip #4: You Need a Big Spot for Catnip

Don’t let your cat fool you. They love catnip. A member of the mint family, catnip’s natural oil gets cats high and makes them happy. Plant a big patch of it so they can eat it, roll around in it, and then take a long nap in it as they like. Incidentally, it also makes a great tea that is soothing to a human.

Tip #5: Create a Playground in the Garden

Cats love to climb and play and explore. Create scratching posts out of wood for them to climb and play on. Leave little nooks and crannies in your hedges and shrubs for your cat to hide in. Create a spot they can access that lets them sit up high and bask in the sun while inspecting their domain. Plant heather and lavender together to give them cover from the sun and places to prowl. Use your imagination to make your cat-friendly garden exciting.

Tip #6: Give Place to Land That Is Soft

Use grass and a layer of bark to provide your cat with someplace soft to land. We’ve all seen the crazy acrobatics cats are capable of when they play. Protect their feet with soft landing zones. Make sure you avoid mulches made of cocoa beans. These are poisonous to not only cats but also dogs.

Tip #7: Give Your Cat Some Hiding Places

cat-friendly garden
Cats love to have places to hide, including the inside of a flower pot.
Photo by Alex Pavlou on Unsplash.

I mentioned giving them nooks and crannies in the shrubs to hide in. Don’t forget to give them other places to hide behind or under. Add large plant pots they can get in or camouflage some boxes that provide them with a place to hide and sleep.

Tip #8: Provide Your Cat With an Outdoor Litter Box

Encourage your cat to stay in your garden by designating a spot that can be used to do their business. Loose sand is a great medium for an outdoor litter box, and it will keep your cat from doing its business in the garden itself. Make sure it is sheltered so that your cat will use it rain or shine.

Tip #9: Your Cat Needs Toys

Who says cat toys are just for inside the house? A cat-friendly garden is a perfect place to add stringed toys for their enjoyment. Attach them to low beams of wood or shrub branches. If they are in the line of a breeze, they will move on their own, providing your cat with hours of entertainment and enjoyment. Use feathers, ribbons, and more to create their toys.

Tip #10: Don’t Forget a Water Source

This one is a given. Add a small fountain or pond to your cat-friendly garden so your cat has plenty of water to enjoy while they are outside.


Do you have a cat-friendly garden? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line in the comments and share.