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Cat Friendly Container Garden

We have adopted a sweet seven- year- old cat, Roxanne. She is de-clawed and seems to know that, as she never strays off the deck. What are some container plants that I can use on the deck to add color and to provide a nontoxic stimulus for Roxy? The deck gets sun from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Springfield, VA

With the addition of Marge to my household, I too have been on the lookout for cat friendly plants. Of course the first plant that comes to mind is catnip, Nepeta cataria. In addition to being a favorite with felines, it is a lovely plant. The plants form nice clumps of gray-green foliage and purple flowers speckled in white.

I am also fond of a close cousin of catnip, Nepeta ‘Sixhills Giant’. At the peak of spring the 30-inch plants are lush with gray-green foliage and literally covered in spires of soft purple blooms. Both of these plants will thrive in containers on a sunny deck. Just be sure to use potting soil that has good drainage, and water when the soil is dry. After the flowers fade, cut the plants back to about 3 inches above the ground and they’ll flower again in early fall.

In addition to catnip, cats often like to nibble on grass so you should consider sowing a “lawn” for Roxy in a shallow, but wide container. If you want her to eat really healthy, sow wheat grass or oat grass. Check your local health food store or pet shop for the seeds.

One final consideration is that some plants are toxic to cats, so before you select plants for Roxy’s garden double check the potential hazard. The Humane Society has a good reference on their website – www.hsus.org.