Skip to main content

How To Create A Purr-Fect Outdoor Space That Is Safe And Fun For Cats And The Humans They Own!

By January 17, 2024June 17th, 2024Landscape Design
cat friendly landscaping

If your family consists of at least one furry member, you know how it important it is to make sure your home is as enjoyable and accommodating for them as for the less-furry ones.

Last week we talked about creating a safe and fun outdoor space for dogs, but let’s face it – dogs are a whole lot easier to manage than cats! Anyone who has tried to train a cat not to shred the living room furniture, or to stay off the kitchen counters, knows what a futile task this can be.

Even if you think you have an indoor cat, those little fluffballs know how to pull a Houdini trick when they want to, and the next thing you know they’re rolling in the Petunias and eyeing the goldfish in your pond.

So even if you have an indoor cat – and especially if you have an outdoor one – you want to know that your yard is a safe and enjoyable place for them. Today we’re sharing some ways for creating the cat-friendly space they crave, one that is just as gorgeous and enjoyable for the human family members, too.

Eliminate Toxic Plants

If you want a safe environment for your feline friend, the first order of business is to eliminate plants that can cause harm. Some garden favorites fall into this category, so be sure to avoid them. They include rhododendron, daffodils, hyacinth, and lilies, among others. You never know when a cat might nibble or nap in something toxic, so it’s best to avoid these types of plants entirely.

But don’t fret about losing your spring daffodils – there are plenty of plants that are as safe for cats and they are beautiful in the garden. Snapdragon, camellia, crape myrtle, sunflowers, and honeysuckle are just a few fantastic bloomers that you can both enjoy.

For a real treat, plant some catnip or wheatgrass. They’ll look great and also be lots of fun, and even a source of nutrients for your cat. If you’re more interested in keeping your cat out of your garden, try planting rosemary. Some cats find the scent too strong and will avoid it. Or use mulch and pine needles as ground cover – they may be too uncomfortable for your cat to roll around in, and will discourage digging in the soil.

Offer Water – Not Puddles

Busy outdoor explorers get thirsty, especially during warm weather – and what cat doesn’t love to toast themselves in a warm sunbeam? Having a source of water is a good idea, and this is one way that both you and your kitty companion can experience the joys of the outdoors together.

Include a water bubbler, small stream, or fountain and your cat will have fresh drinking water at the same time that you have a lovely visual and auditory element to enjoy.

The trick is to offer moving water. Stagnant water can breed bacteria that is harmful to cats when ingested – not to mention attract mosquitoes! That means it’s important to avoid puddling, because your cat is probably not going to discriminate between fresh and stagnant water, and they’re just as likely to drink from a puddle as they are to use your favorite hat as a pillow.

You can ensure proper drainage and avoid pooling runoff with good landscape design, and a bubbling, flowing water feature will be as healthy for cats as it is soothing for you.

Choose The Safer Option

When it comes to landscape design, you’ve got plenty of options, so before you commit to an idea, consider alternatives that are more cat-friendly.

For example, you might want to reconsider your fences. A board fence that a cat can’t see around but can jump onto may look lovely, but may not be ideal. Curiosity is going to have something to say about the matter, and that may not work out too well. Your cat may injure themselves on rough edges, or not have enough surface area to balance and fall off.

Retaining walls are a better option for cat-friendly spaces. They’re enough to create separation, but not so tall as to be dangerous. A nice flat, stone surface gives cats a place to land and can serve as an excellent sunning spot, too. And they’ll look spectacular surrounding your garden, accompanying a patio, or bordering your property.

Consider where you cat might hide, too. A dense copse of tall ornamental grasses might be an attractive privacy option for you, but if your cat is going to burrow in there and come home covered in insects or with a gash or two from fighting with the local wildlife, this may not be ideal.

Bamboo is an alternative privacy screen that can look just as lovely and offer less of a hazard to your cat.

Let Them Play

If it’s vertical, your cat is going to climb it. It it’s tall, your cat is going to jump on it. If it’s small, your cat is going to try to get in it.

You can’t change the nature of the beast, so design a landscape that offers enrichment to yours.

Cats love to jump, and they especially like to survey their kingdom from a higher vantage point. Make it easy for them to do so with some landscape elements that you’ll enjoy, too. Vertical “shelving” where you can display container gardens or artwork can double as a catwalk.

Tree stumps of varying heights can add dimension and visual interest, as well as a cat playground. Reclaimed natural wood branches can offer a lovely visual element and serve as a climbing ramp for your cat. Both of these are also excellent scratching posts and will only look more weathered and charming the more they’re used.

Empty garden containers, a stone bench under a shade tree, the awning of a small shed – these little details can provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for your cat and a lovely addition to your space.

Create A Hideaway

When they’re not ruling the roost, cats love to curl up in cozy spaces and hide. They’re not discriminating – they’ll lounge in a grease puddle under your car tire just as easily as they’ll wriggle their way through the lattice enclosure around a porch.

Your best bet is to offer safe, comfortable hiding spots. That can be as simple as adding a cozy cat house into your landscape design, or clustering a few potted plants together to create a tempting nook.

Outdoor furniture is an excellent option for felines and humans alike. Comfy loungers, cushy armchairs, even a porch swing will make a pleasant spot for you and your cat to relax. Choose chairs with a bit of space underneath where your cat can hide, or place furniture strategically so it is sheltered by surrounding plants, a retaining wall or other landscape element, and you’ve got yourself a win for everyone.

Cats can be tricky to manage outdoors. Chances are they’re going to do what they want to do and go where they want to go regardless of how you feel about it! That’s why it’s so important to create a space that works for them as well as you. The better you can direct your cat’s energies and instincts toward a safe, enjoyable option, the better off they’ll be. And with the right design you can do it all beautifully!

If you have a feline friend and want to talk about creating a space where you’ll both be safe and happy, contact us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to plan and create an outdoor space that serves your unique lifestyle.