Today’s guest post comes from Mike James:
6 cat friendly plants for your garden
If you think it’s difficult to please a cat, we’ve got the answer – and it could be coming to your garden soon. Did you know there are certain plants that are particularly appealing to our purry pals? We’ve asked the cat experts at Vale Vets to recommend 6 cat friendly plants for maximum feline enjoyment in your garden.
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Also known as catmint or catswort, catnip is probably the best known ‘cat’ plant around. Up to 80% of felines react with temporary euphoria to the totally harmless intoxicating effects produced by the release of nepetalactone from catnip leaves and stems. The playful frenzy lasts for about 15 minutes after which your cat will be ready for a nice nap.
Catnip can be bought from any good pet shop. It looks very pretty and is easy to grow. The hardy perennial produces pink flower clusters during the summer which attract pollinators and beneficial insects. Seeds are easily available online and should be sown on the surface, pressed into the top of the soil to keep them moist, rather than buried underground.
Catnip is a reseeding plant that usually comes back for a second season. The stems can be easily dried and stored in a cool, dark and dry place where they will retain their psychoactive powers for several months – handy for catnip induced playtime during the winter months.
Cats are very fond of the smell of garden mint; they love to sniff it and roll around in large patches of it – great for puss but not so good if you prefer your garden pristine. Mint is best bought in pots – every garden centre will have it – and it’s a doddle to grow. However, once it’s taken, be warned: mint grows like billy-o!
There’s a wide variation of catmints and catnips including Nepeta x faassenii and Nepeta mussinii, gorgeous plant with purple flowers that will attract bees and butterflies as well as cats. And did you know that cat pleasing peppermint is a mouse deterrent? For responsible cat owners, it’s a win win situation!
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Long used as a mild sedative and anti-depressant for humans, Valerian has an effect on cats that is similar to catnip. Actinidine is the compound found in the root that is thought to work as a semi-psychotic stimulant, inducing excitement in the feline population.
Valerian has clustered, pretty white flowers that have a pleasing, cherry like fragrance and will attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. That said, Valerian root has a distinctive smell that cats love but humans not so much; it’s been compared to dirty socks and worse. Interestingly, the smell of Valerian also attracts rats and can be planted away from buildings to lure rats away from human habitation.
- Cat grass (Dactylis glomerata)
All cats should have access to a patch of regular grass – they love to roll around in it and snack on it, as you’ve no doubt witnessed many times. Why? There are many expert opinions on why cats eat grass. It’s a source of essential folic acid which helps in the production of haemoglobin in the blood, it helps with regurgitation and removal of non-digestible matter and hairballs, and it acts as a digestive aid and a natural laxative.
While regular garden turf may be all that’s required, any grain based grasses – wheat, oat, rye and barley grasses – are good for your kitty. Dactylis glomerata – or cat grass, cock’s foot or orchard grass – appears to be particularly favoured by our catty companions.
Seeds will happily grow in pots with a bit of soil which you can keep on the patio, and also on the window sill for when puss doesn’t feel like going out.
- Cat thyme (Teuricum marum)
In the unlikely event that your cat is left untouched by catnip, try cat thyme instead. It’s said to have the same stimulating effect that cats simply love.
Despite the name and its thyme like leaves, cat thyme is not a thyme but a germander. It’s a fragrant herb that loves fertile, well drained soil and full sun. This slow growing tender perennial produces strong scented pink flowers in summer. The musty scent is very different to that of thyme, and unfortunately not in a good way!
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
An aromatic tropical grass with a fresh lemon scent, lemongrass is surprisingly appealing to cats – more so than other cat appropriate grasses – and it acts as a mild feline stimulant. What’s more, lemongrass leaves have many culinary uses for humans, particularly in Thai and Oriental cuisines. If you’re growing some for your kitchen, kitty will love it too.
Lemongrass can be grown from seed with some gardening experience, but you may have more success rooting shop bought stalks or buying a potted specimen. Keep plants indoors on in the conservatory until the risk of frost has passed and then place them in your warmest, sunniest spot outside until the autumn.
Article provided by Mike James, a tech-obsessed, cat-loving content writer