With this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show well underway we've put together some cat-friendly gardening advice to ensure that all cats are kept happy and safe when outside.
Here are our top tips:
- Before allowing your cat outside make sure that they are fully vaccinated to protect them against serious and/or life threatening diseases, neutered to prevent unwanted litters and microchipped to increase the chance of a reunion if they become lost.
- A number of plants have the potential to cause harm to cats and should be avoided. For advice on preventative action, how to tell if your cat has been poisoned and a comprehensive list of hazardous plants, click here.
- Eating grass is a normal behaviour in cats and the general understanding is that it helps to move food or hairballs through the digestive tract. It may also provide them with essential trace elements in their diet, so it is recommended that cats have access to grass. If you don't have any grass in your garden it can be provided as a commercial pack of 'cat grass' or a pot or tray in which grass seeds can be grown.
- Catnip is a welcome addition to most feline-friendly gardens as it has an extraordinary effect on around 80% of cats. An encounter with the plant can make cats excited, and they may sniff and roll around on the ground or over the catnip.
- Provide outdoor enrichment in the form of objects that enable cats to hide, exercise and play, such as outdoor scratching areas made from tree trunks or wooden upright post covered in rope to ensure that your cat enjoys the garden just as much as you do.
- Multiple outdoor locations for key resources should be provided where possible, such as access to fresh drinking water via water fountains or rain-collection dishes. Suitable outdoor toileting areas, including rakeable areas in a quiet, private area with sand or soil that cats can dig in, can also prevent cats from toileting where you don't want them to.
- For many people, a major deterrent to having a cat as a pet is the problem of keeping it safe without restricting it from the outdoors. For advice on cat-proofing your garden and providing an enclosed environment click here.
- Whilst there is no guaranteed way to keep cats off your garden, click here to read our advice on detering unwanted cats from your garden.