Gardening Topic for October 2003
Cat Green Gardens

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association

Article by Cecelia Staryos, Master Gardener Intern

My cats love plants as much as I do. After years of keeping my cats away from indoor plants, I now grow some plants exclusively for my cats. Some may say that catering to a cat¹s desire for greenery is a little over the top, but if you are a gardener and a cat lover, a Cat Green Garden is simply the cat¹s meow.

Any plant that is not toxic or harmful to cats can be grown in a Cat Green Garden. Plants that are safe and nutritious for cats are easy to find. Most of the plants featured in this article are tender annuals commonly grown outdoors in the summer.

With the ending of summer, October is a perfect time to begin a Cat Green Garden. Since plants will be hit by frosts, why not just pot them up then bring them indoors for your cat to enjoy!



Cats Are Not Human
Cats and humans metabolize plants and plant materials differently. Aloe Vera and Tea Tree Oil are healing to humans and toxic to cats. Never give a plant or a plant product or material to a cat until you are completely sure it is safe.

Never Use Toxic Plants
Avoid catastrophe. If you can¹t identify the plant as safe, do not give it to your cat. Use botanical (Latin) not common names to identify plants. Using common names is an easy way to accidentally poison your cat, as shown below:

Not Safe: Marigold
Common name: French or African Marigold
Botanical name: Tagetes

Safe: Pot Marigold
Common name: Calendula, Pot Marigold
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis

Talk To The Experts
If you are unsure about whether to give a plant or plant material to your cat, check with your vet or local nursery. If you don¹t speak Latin, don¹t struggle with the pronunciation of the botanical name - spell it.

Learn More About Toxic Plants At
Toxic Plant DataBase

No birds were harmed in the drawing of this picture



Keep Your Cat Healthy
Cats are sensitive to chemicals. Avoid using plants treated with pesticides or soil treated with pesticides, herbicides or chemicals used to kill rodents or slugs.
Try a cat friendly fertilizer such as compost or fish emulsion to feed your plants.

Be A Matchmaker
Match plants to the indoor space that best meets the plant¹s requirements for light and temperature. Group plants with similar needs together.

Location, Location, Location
Locate your Green Garden in a space in your house that is cat friendly. Cats like the feel of soil on their paws. Cats like to pull on plants and may toss soil on the floor. If this is an issue, think again about locating the Green Garden on a white rug. It also helps to keep soil 2" to 3" below the top of the pot; group individual pots in a larger container; overplant each pot to give the cat more greenery and less dirt to toss on the floor; and keep your sense of humor.

Greenery May Be Short Lived
Be realistic about the looks of the Green Garden. Cats like to play and sleep around plants. This is great for the cat, but hard on the plant. Grow plants in individual pots for easy replacement of damaged plants.

Learn More About Cat Gardens At
What You Need to Know About Cats





Calendula CALENDULA officinalis
Catmint NEPETA faassenii, "Six Hills Giant"
NEPETA X faassenii, "Alba"
NEPETA mussinii
Catnip NEPETA cataria
Coleus COLEUS spp
White Ginger, Butterfly Ginger HEDYCHIUM coronarium
Ornamental or Wild Strawberries FRAGARIA vesca
FRAGARIA virginiana
Petunia Petunia spp.
Papyrus CYPERUS papyrus
Sage, Texas Sage, Salvia, Scarlet Sage SALVIA coccinea
Swedish Ivy PLECTRANTHUS australis
Transvaal Daisy, Gerbena Daisy GERBERA jamesonii
Zinnia ZINNIA spp
Find The Names Of 274 Safe Plants At
Plants And Your Cat



Use up left-over seeds or transplant from your garden.
Use any combination or proportion that pleases your cat.

Mantra for growing grasses and grains for cats:
The deeper the container the deeper the roots.
The deeper the roots the higher the foliage.
The higher the foliage, the happier the cat

Grass and Grain Sprouts
Cat grass (datylis glomerata)
Grass or Grain seed mixes for cats can be purchased at a Pet Store

Salads And Herbs
Lettuce (lactuca sativa)
Broccoli (Brassica rapa)
Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)
Valerian (Valeriana officianalis)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Dill (Anethum graveolens)

For Everything You Want To Know About Sprouts Check With
The Sprout People




Quite Seriously
Check with your vet before using the Lavender Mix as any herb may interfere with other medications your cat is taking or may cause a reaction.

The All Six Cat Lavender Mix

Developed for Oingy, Boingy, Mido, Sandino, Grizzie, and Rosie Cat as a pleasant and calming litter box additive. Cats with marking issues are encouraged by the fragrance to return to the litter box.

1/2 cup dried lavender blossoms
1 cup dried chamomile blossoms
1/4 cup dried catnip

Use a coffee grinder to grind individual herbs until less lumpy. Mix all herbs together and store in a glass jar with a tight lid.
Sprinkle a small amount on top of litter every three days.

Basic Litter
Use unscented clumping clay litter (clay with bentonite)


Did you check the Botanical (Latin) name of the plants you selected for your Green Garden?

For other topics, check out our garden article archives

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association