It is not difficult to create a CAT PARADISE in your back yard or balcony.

It is dangerous to allow a cat to roam free in a city. It is often illegal. Most animal rescue groups demand as one of their adoption criteria, that you keep your cat inside. Cats can get lost, get hurt in a fight, stolen, eaten or hit by trafic. They can also get exposed to FIV, if they fight an infected cat. Giving access to your fuzzy friend to a safe enclosed garden will give them years of pleasure, help keep them fit, and will keep them in a better state of mind.

First step is to make sure the area is secure.

Cats unfortunately are escape artists, particularly younger more athletic cats. If they think they can get out they will try. If they know they can't, they will not try (and possibly succeed.) The key to success is to never let them succeed in getting out. A cat is a creature of habit and will mostly stop trying to escape once they have decided that they don't want to get away.

You can secure an area using a tall fence if you have a back yard, or by using mesh if you have a balcony. I have often seen people enclose their balcony in pigeon proof plastic mesh. If the mesh is solid enough it will keep cats in and pigeons out.

Very successful cat enclosures can be made under a small mesh trellis supporting plants.

it's important to get neighbours onside. If THEY have a cat then they might want their side to be enclosed too. If they don't have a cat, they might prefer to keep them out.

An enclosure should look as nice as you can make it, for your sake and your neighbours. Some places have restrictions on fence height, in that case I would make a kennel type of enclosure if I had the space.

Fence keeps cats in

Cat Proof Fence is 6 feet high with mesh section an extra 2 feet. Overhang is wire mesh and about a cats length in size.

Small enclosed city garden

This Cat Proof fence has plastic mesh. Metal is better because the squirrels chew through the plastic and I have to repair the holes. In fact they love to chew it. Maybe it feels good?

Hanging plants love the high fence as do climbers.

Although racoons can make it in and out, there is not much to attract them.

Small garden

Garden is only 15 by 15 but often hides 6 happy prowling, sleeping, snacking, playing cats.

What do Cats Like in a Garden.

  • A small patch of grass is always welcome
  • Some plants to eat.
  • Shady spots to sleep in
  • Sunny spots to sleep in
  • Safe Garden with Mysterious areas to explore
  • High spots to watch over the world
  • Pigeons/squirrels/mice to watch
  • Moving water
  • Some sand or soil to roll in.

I have seen a very athletic cat climb to the top of the mesh part and dangling from the overhang, make his way out hand over hand, or rather paw over paw. That is exceptional and few cats are willing or strong enough to get out.

If you think a cat can get out, it can! it's also important to make sure there are no gaps larger than 2 inches anywhere including under the fence, both for safety, and for keeping them in. Once your cats are used to the garden and feel safe in their jungle they will forget about escaping. it's useful to be there at first to gently discourage any escape attempt. Some cats can jump onto refrigerators and on top of high cabinets, keep this in mind if your cat is like that.

I heard of someone who made a "kennel" for their cats, complete with grass and shelves for jumping up on. This was completely enclosed and was connected to the house via a cat door in a window. Have a look at the Cats of Australia for some examples.

Grass

Every spring I go to the garden center and get a roll of sod. One year I just planted a handful of bird seed. Since my back yard is paved over I just throw a bit of soil on the ground and put the sod on top. I only use a small part of the roll so I use the rest to sod in the bigger pots. it's too shady to grow very much but the cats still like it. The sod rarely lives to the next year and I just replant it. it's well worth the effort on a paved yard or a balcony.

tiny grass spot

The Grass patch doesn't need to be very
large to make a cat happy

Small garden

Tiger in the tall grass.

tiny grass spot

Grass in a barrel under a small bush.

Small garden

Larger cat lawn often has 2 cats sleeping.

Good Stuff to Eat and Smell

catnip is always welcome

Catnip is a favourite snack and is easy to grow. Usually you can just throw some commercial catnip in your pots and there are enough seeds to keep your cats happy all summer. I have a cat who loves bean seedlings. I always plant a few for her. Birdseed seedlings seem to go over well with my herd as well. The grass patch also gets regularly eaten.

Read why cats like Catnip

Be careful not to plant any poisonous plants. See at the bottom of the page for a list of some plants that are toxic to cats. I've not had much trouble with cats eating bad stuff but some cats will try and nibble anything.

Many plants have similar effects for cats as catnip. Silver Vine, valerian and Honeysuckle are a few.

cat likes to eat spiderplant

Spider plant is like a cat salad bar.

licking rain off leaves.

Tilley licking rain off leaves.


My page on PLANTS THAT CATS LIKE

The cats delight in having green things to smell, roll in, and nibble on, occasionally. In a small area a couple of pots can provide great pleasure to your cat. If he can climb in and hide or sleep around them all the better! 2 pots can create a little cave, perfect for watching the world unseen.

Cats love to sleep in the Sun when it's cool, and in the shade when it's warm

Nice cool bush to sleep under

Pleasant cool bush to sleep under.

Nice cool bench

Asleep on a garden bench under the flowers. I space my pots in order to allow cats easy access. This is a small detail but it makes a huge difference to the pleasure of the cats.

Cat sleeping

Siesta time for Jenny

Cat in warm spring day.

Warm spring day is perfect.

If you have a spot that is out of the rain, a cat basket is nice too!

Mysterious spots to explore.

Prowling under benches and around pots give my cats enormous pleasure. I have a composter that attracts mice. This is a very interesting spot for the kitties. They also ambush each other and have great battles. They keep an eye out for beetles, worms, butterflies and june bugs.

cats can go under the tables

Many of my pots are on small tables and benches, the cats love to explore in the caves this creates. I leave enough spaces between pots to allow the cats to slip between, or sleep there.

cat exploring

Cats love to explore in the garden under the benches and between the pots.

High spots to watch over the world

Watching a dog go by

Yohan keeps an eye on a dog walking by

Jenny exploring

Jenny walking on top of the fence

Jenny cat sleeping on the fence.

Just dozing on one of the fence shelves I have put for the cats.

There are a number of little cat platforms on the fences. All the cats like to climb up and either watch the people walking in the lane or keep track of their buddies in the garden. There is also quite a lot of bird, squirrel, and pigeon watching that goes on.

Playing on the cat tree

Playing on the cat tree

Jenny exploring

Watching the garden from up high

cats can go under the tables

Kitten is up high looking at the laneway and watching the other cats.

Watch the birds, squirrels and mice.

All the cats like to watch the birds and pigeons that come onto the garage for the seeds I throw up there. We see the odd squirrel and if I have old bread the seagulls come and make a great fuss. The cats love it.Watching pigeons

Winston is fascinated by the pigeons.

pigeons watching the cats

Pigeons watching the cats.

Watching pigeons

Jenny birdwatching

Lulu Birdwatching

Lulu Birdwatching

Moving water is always fun.

In the past I have had a small fountain and it has been appreciated by some cats and ignored by others. It provided a place to have a drink. I imagine that a goldfish pond would be a favourite with the cats and racoons!! I try to stay away from things that would hurt birds or fish so no birdfeeder in the yard in summer and no goldfish ponds. In the winter I do have a hanging birdfeeder and it gives everyone something to look at through the window. I have one cat who likes the cold because he has a thick coat. He is absolutely hopeless at catching birds. Luckily!!

Scratch Post

cat scratching tree

Scratching tree.

My cats have pointedly rejected just about every scratch post I have provided except for a beam in my back room that I wrapped in rope. HOWEVER they have all loved doing their nails on the Slippery Elm. They also enjoyed putting a claw on my fancy Caragana standard. A scratching post is one accessory that every garden should have. Both you and your cats will benefit from it. Your cat will do his nails, you, will save your couch. If you want to protect one tree, you can wrap it with a protective spiral covering. Make sure you offer an alternative tree or post.

Winter use?

cat shelter for winter

Cat House is a shelter from rain and in winter a protected cabin. I show it to all the cats and serve a housewarming snack of treats inside so everyone understands that it's OK to go in.

Long haired cats are more comfortable in cold weather and might enjoy using the garden in winter. I have a little cat house that provides some shelter from rain or really bad weather should the cat get temporarily forgotten outside.

In the summer I keep a window open during the day and close it at night. A cat door would do as well as long as it can be closed. This is necessary because racoons will come in. Sometimes the cats refuse to come in (or rather hide so they don't have to come in) when I go to bed and get locked out in the garden. I've figured out that a hose with a very weak mist nozzle will make enough "wet" noises to convince the cats to come in. A spray bottle would serve the same purpose. After a while they will come when called. I have never sprayed them with water, just made the water sounds. They understand the sound means water because I water the garden regularly.

Some more information and links about gardens for cats

Some Toxic Plants.

I don't worry too much since my cats are not really interested in eating the plants. I make sure that the really toxic plants are not in my garden and I make sure there are lots of things the cats like and that are safe around. My kitties seem to avoid the bad stuff. Like anything else, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! The cats seem to go and eat grass when they want help puking up a hairball, that's not poisoning though.

I don't feed the cats in the garden although I will leave water out. I don't want to attract the racoons. These guys are amazing climbers and sometimes seem to just levitate in! In order to exclude racoons completely I think it would be necessary to completely enclose the garden in mesh. This would not be particularly difficult but I prefer open skies.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Arrowhead Vine (all parts)
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Azalea
  • Bird of Paradise (fruit, seeds)
  • Boston Ivy (all parts)
  • Caladium (all parts)
  • Calla Lily
  • Castor Bean Plant
  • Christmas Rose
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Creeping Charlie (all parts)
  • Creeping Fig
  • Crown of Thorns
  • Daffodil
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dumbcane (all parts)
  • Easter lily
  • Elephant Ears
  • Emerald Duke (all parts)
  • English Holly
  • English and Glacier Ivy (leaves, berries)
  • Heartleaf (all parts)
  • Ivy (Hedera)
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Lily of the Valley (all parts)
  • Majesty (all parts)
  • Marble Queen (all parts)
  • Mistletoe
  • Nephthytis (all parts)
  • Parlor Ivy (all parts)
  • Philodendron (all parts)
  • Poinsettia (leaves, flowers)
  • Pothos (all parts)
  • Pot Mum
  • Red Princess (all parts)
  • Saddleleaf (all parts)
  • Schefflera
  • Spider Mum
  • Sprengeri Fern
  • Swiss Cheese Plant
  • Tulip (bulbs)
  • Umbrella Plant (all parts)
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus)
  • emails: Christine

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