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A garden for cats

By Gay Published: May 19, 2009

Nepeta Cataria, commonly known as catnip or cat mint, is a member of the mint family, and the flagship of your cat’s garden. While it is an easy herb to grow, your cat will often dig it up and move it to where you can’t find it so s/he can enjoy it at his/her leisure!

I have often brought home flats of catnip, and when I opened the car door, one or more of my cats jumped in and made off with one of the small pots.

Keep your cats indoors while you are planting it, and secure the area with a little fence that is tightly wired so that a feline can’t reach through the fence and excavate your work. After the plant is established, it will be deeply rooted enough for you to remove the fence. It will spread quickly, so grow it where you will not mind the catnip taking over. Your cats will help with the containment, as they will roll in it, dig it up, and sleep on it.

Catnip has a calming effect on cats so it’s useful for maintaining harmony among a multi-cat family. Because it is so soothing, it is a good herb for a cat which has been ill or hurt. Cats can become seemingly intoxicated after ingesting catnip, and generally, they will be very playful and affectionate with their humans when “using.”

Another herb that is ideal for a cat garden is cat grass. It’s a good thing to plant, because cats often eat grass when they have upset stomachs, including regular lawn grasses, which may be toxic if you use commercial fertilizers and pesticides. Cats also will eat houseplants, many of which are deadly, so providing cat grass in your cats’ garden will be a health alternative to lawn grasses. There are several varieties from which to choose: oat grass, wheat grass, barley and rye grasses, as well as flax. Plant a small area of each and see if your cats have a preference for any. Full of vitamins and minerals, cat grass provides fiber, so it is an aid to your cats’ digestion.

You can grow catnip and cat grasses indoors if you can prevent your felines from “harvesting” it before it is ready. I have not had much success with indoor catnip, as my cats always find it and eat it till there is nothing left!

Can you have too many tomatoes and peppers? In my estimation, you can not, and your cats will feel the same way about their very own herbs!

Gay Fifer is the owner of Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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