How to Create a Cat-Friendly Garden

If you’re looking to create a garden that you can share with your cat, there are some things you need to consider in order to ensure your cat is safe and comfortable in the space. Check out these five tips for creating a cat-friendly garden.

1. Choose Cat-Friendly Plants

A cat laying under a plant

The most important thing to consider when designing a cat-friendly garden is plants. You want to choose plants that your cat will be safe around. That means selecting plants that are non-toxic and don’t present a risk for injury.

The ASPCA has a great list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats, but keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive. If you’re unsure of a plant’s toxicity, you can Google it by the plant’s scientific name and add “site:.edu” to the end of your search to ensure all sources are from reputable sites (many will be from veterinary programs). It’s always a good idea to contact your veterinarian with any questions or concerns you have about the safety of your cat.

5 Cat-Friendly Plants to Consider

Close up on the blooms of Center Stage Red Crapemyrtle

Crapemyrtle

Close up of a big white and pink bloom on Paraplu Pink Ink Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

A close view of a Just Chill Red Tip camellia flower.

Camellias

A close view of the fluffy, detail-filled blooms of Bloomerang Purpink lilac.

Lilac

2. Create Spaces Specifically for Your Cat

A cat perched on top of a wooden pole

Cats aren’t particularly fond of big open spaces, so it’s important that you give your cat somewhere to hide while they’re outside. Whether this is a DIY cat house, patio furniture, or plants, make sure you have some options for your cat to take shelter.

If your cat’s going to be outside for long periods of time, you need to give them access to drinking water. Cats tend to gravitate to natural running water sources, so if you have a natural source of water, such as a pond, ensure it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or block it off from your cat and opt for a bowl that circulates water. 

Cats like to climb and have a good vantage point to survey the yard, so try giving your cat a place to perch. This can be achieved with cat trees, furniture, ladders, trellises, or a DIY cat climbing wall. 

Most cats like to sunbathe. Give your cat somewhere to catch some rays, but it’s equally important to have shady areas for them to cool down on those warm summer days. 

If you prefer your cat not to choose their own place to relieve themselves, ensure you give them an area to do so. This can be a litter box or a box with sand or wood chips; just make sure you place it in a private area.

A gray cat sitting in the sun

3. Provide Enrichment

A cat climbing on a wooden pallet

It’s important that you provide your cat with opportunities for enrichment while they’re outside. 

An easy way to do this is to give them things they can scratch. Tree trunks or tree branches are good choices for natural scratching options, or if you’d prefer your trees scratch-free, you can give them a scratching post.

Cat toys and climbing spaces are other great ways to give your cat an enriching outdoor experience.

4. Avoid Using Chemicals

A gray and white cat laying in the grass

As with any pet in your garden, it can be incredibly dangerous for your cat to be in a garden that has been treated with harmful chemicals. Avoid using any chemicals in areas where your cat has access because even if your cat isn’t going to chew on anything in your garden, they will likely lay or roll in the grass or garden beds. 

Ensure all fertilizers and mulch (dyed bark) are non-toxic and pet-safe. 

If you use a lawn service, communicate with them to ensure they aren’t using any harmful chemicals to treat your lawn.

5. Protect Other Wildlife

Four birds perched on a vibrant winterberry bush

While you want to make your garden a welcoming place for your cat, you don’t want to endanger other wildlife that may enjoy your garden too. 

It’s best to put a bell on your cat’s collar so wildlife hear them coming and to make sure your cat has eaten before going outside or has access to food while they’re outside. 

Try giving your cat distractions while they’re outside. This could be scratching posts, toys, or even you. If your cat is giving you all their attention, they’ll be less likely to notice the other wildlife in your garden. 

If you have bird feeders, make sure they are well out of your cat’s reach. Surround them with plants or barriers your cat can’t get through or climb over. If you have plants that produce berries that birds eat, make sure your cat doesn’t have access to these.

If you keep these things in mind, you can create a space that both you and your cat can enjoy! If you have a dog that you share your space with as well, check out this dog-friendly blog for tips on creating a space for you and your pup.

Written by
Samantha Huisman

Samantha Huisman

I’m still pretty new to gardening, but I’m eager to learn more as I grow my USDA Zone 6a garden. I share my space with two very energetic German Shepherd dogs, and I'm happy to share my experiences building a garden that is beautiful and safe for my pups. As I learn and grow in the gardening world, I’m excited to give you tips and inspiration that may just help you on your gardening journey.

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