It may be January and cold, but this is the perfect month to start planning your garden, especially if you have to order seeds to be shipped to you and then start them indoors. So why not plan on planting an herb garden just for your favorite felines? There are a number of herbs and plants that cats find tasty and that are good for their nutrition and digestion.
1. Plant Grass
People with outdoor cats know that their furry friends enjoy a good snack of grass once in a while. This helps their digestion and sometimes causes them to throw up so that they can get rid of anything indigestible. For this reason it is a good idea to keep pesticides and herbicides off the lawn.
2. Plant Catnip
Everyone knows that most of those of the feline persuasion and nuts about catnip (also known as catmint). They may get very drunk on the herb, but it is also good for them. You can buy catnip seeds to plant, but the species is invasive, so check the corners of your neighborhood to see if it is growing wild. If you do plant, you may want to pinch off the flowers before they go to seed to keep down the spread of the plant. Outdoor kitties will imbibe on their own. For indoor kitties, pick a couple of leaves, bruise them with a fingernail and serve.
3. Plant Other "Grassy" Plants
Lemongrass, oat grass, and wheat grass are also strong contenders for feline favorites. They are great for cat digestion issues. Naturally these are a couple of plants you and your puss may want to share. When I don't have the time or space for planting I will buy sprouted wheat grass from the organic produce section of my supermarket for a quick winter treat for my baby girl. Spider plants are also a nice indoor substitute for grass during the winter months.
4. Plant Valerian
Cats also love Valerian. The plant's roots also have a stimulant effect on cats similar to catnip. All cats need a little help with this one since the part of the plant they are attracted to is the root. Dig up a bit for your cat to enjoy.
5.Grow Things From The Mint Family
Other plants that kitties can enjoy safely include members of the mint family, cat thyme, zinnias, marigolds, violas, and alyssum.
DesignRulz has a nice chart of recommended cat friendly plants in their article on designing a cat friendly garden. Xmission has a really detailed list of houseplants that are safe for your cat to chew on.
Plants To Avoid
When choosing plants for your garden there are also plants you may want to avoid for the safety of your cat include oleander, poinsettias, yew, lily of the valley, philodendron, azalea, bulbs, sweat pea, jimson weed, dieffenbachia, large leaf ivy, mistletoe, cherry, morning glory, iris, mushrooms and rhubarb leaves.
You can get more details on this handy infographics from sheknows.
For pure entertainment value, I personally can recommend a butterfly bush. I often find my cat under the bush waiting for something to come fluttering around.
The plants cats like to munch are often high in vitamins and minerals. Parsley provides vitamins A, B, C, as well as beta carotene, potassium and other minerals. Carrot tops contain Vitamin A and beta carotene. Spinach is high in calcium and Vitamins C and A.
Growing your own tasty tidbits for your kitty from seed is great for those of you who want to make sure that you cat is only going to get fresh, organic, non-GMO plants. It is best to start with organic seeds in the first place.
Note: Laurie Kay Olson is a rabid. . . um. . . avid gardener and cat mom.