Outdoor access is healthy for cats, and creating a welcoming garden area will ensure that your feline enjoys the great outdoors without straying away from home. Even cats that prefer being indoors like a bit of outside time and enjoy getting some fresh air, especially on temperate days that are neither too hot nor too cold.
Many inexpensive changes can turn your garden into a cat-friendly zone. If this is your objective, here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Most cats do not drink enough water, rendering them vulnerable to urinary tract infections and kidney issues. They tend to rely on cat food for the bulk of their fluid intake. A chew tablet that contains kidney supplements for cats should be the feline owner’s first point of departure to avoid this. The second would be feeding the cat plenty of moist food as it has the highest fluid content. There are some excellent brands like Vet’s Best, Nutri Vet, Scruffy Paws Nutrition, Only Natural Pet and Nature Vet that offer cat supplements. You just need to decide which one will be best suited to your furry meow.
Add a small water feature to your garden as cats seem drawn to them and love batting at the water with their paws. Such an abundant water source will encourage your kitty to drink more. Another alternative would be a large plastic container, such as a child’s sandpit, placed under a downpipe to catch fresh rainwater. This is ideal if you have several pets.
If your cat has a penchant for exploring the neighborhood beyond your garden, take measures to keep it within your property’s confines. It is best for your kitty’s safety from passing vehicles and other animals that might take exception to its presence. It is installed at a 45° angle from the top of your garden wall or fence.
Several cat fencing options are available on the market, and a trip to your hardware store should provide some ideas. If you love DIY projects, this should be one you can manage with relative ease. Those cat owners worried about the aesthetic that cat fencing might create, somewhat reminiscent of a prison yard, should consult a landscaper who can turn it into something artistic and more pleasing to the eye.
Cat Houses and Pens
If you are not too keen on cat fencing, dedicate a section of your yard to building a cat pen. This is a large open-air structure constructed using wooden beams and chicken wire or other fencing. Some cat houses are built around the lower parts of trees, making ideal climbing apparatus and a scratching post. You can use fiberglass or other materials to fashion a roof covering your cat house so your kitty cannot escape, and no other unwanted guests can join it.
Inside, make the cat house a fun place for your feline to be. Include shelves and perches for your kitty to climb and find a sunny spot for a catnap. Add some hanging toys for extra entertainment. Some cat owners go the extra mile and install a hammock for their cats to enjoy while in the cat house. Always ensure that your cat has access to food and water while in its cat pen.
Your cat will love staying in your garden and feel little need to explore beyond it if you plant some cat-friendly flora. Undoubtedly, if the cat could talk, catnip would be at the top of its list of preferred plants. Catnip is an herb that belongs to the mint family. It is easy to grow, and cats love smelling it and rolling around in its leaves. For some cats, it is an intoxicating experience. Catmint is also a viable option, and its purple flowers add color to your garden. They are a particular favorite of bees and other pollinating insects, such as butterflies.
Some plants are harmful to cats and should be eradicated if they are in your garden. Felines should not be exposed to cannabis plants as the results can be serious, if not deadly. Other plants to avoid include lilies, tulips, azaleas, rhododendron, oleander, castor beans, yew trees, and amaryllis. As your landscaper to help you identify any potentially dangerous plants, remove them, and make suggestions for their replacement.
Bonus tip: Hiding Places
Cats love hiding and pouncing, so your garden should make this possible. They also value privacy and a place to groom themselves without everyone watching. Your kitty would likely want such a place from which it can survey its kingdom. A few well-placed shrubs will give the cat a great hideaway where they can also escape the summer sun. You might need to hollow out some space under them for easy access.
If you have a small, paved garden, you can still create a kitty hiding nook by placing potted shrubs together in a corner. Ensure that the cat can move between the pots to seek refuge behind them. This is even possible on a balcony if you live in an apartment.
*Photo by Helena Lopes