Tag: cats

Cats in Flowerbeds

Kitten with CatmintThere are many humane ways to keep a cat from using your garden for their litter box or naptime. The key is to change the area in such a way that it is no longer appealing to them. Here are a few ideas:

Commercial Repellents – There are many commercial repellents on the market. Be aware that the active ingredient in many is methyl nonyl ketone. This chemical is poisonous and should not be used on food crops. You can also find non-toxic sprays as well based on hot pepper, citrus and oil of mustard. Vinegar may also work as well. Spray repellents must be reapplied every 7 to 10 days or after a rain.

Sprinklers – Get a water timer for your sprinkler and set it to go off several times during the day. Cats will avoid wet areas. Set a random schedule so that your little furry friends will not acclimate to the situation. Or you can purchase motion activated sprinkler heads that run on batteries.

Chicken Wire – Bury chicken wire under a thin layer of soil. Cats like soft dirt to dig in. The chicken wire is uncomfortable on their paws.

‘Scardy Cat’ Coleus – On a recent trip to the garden center I happened on to a new coleus, Coleus canina, that was advertised as being a cat and dog repellent. ‘Scardy Cat’ or ‘Dog’s Gone’, as it is called, has a pungent odor that cats find unpleasant. The plant itself has dark green foliage and blue flower spikes, which makes it an attractive way to rid your garden of cats.

Cat Scat – There are commercially available open weave mats with prickly plastic teeth that you can cut into sections and place throughout your flowerbeds. The teeth irritate cats without harming them.

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.