How to make your garden cat friendly
Many cat owners spend time making their home more cat friendly, but often do not consider how cat friendly their garden is. If you have a garden where other cats from the neighbourhood frequent, this can cause stress to your own cat. Having a garden which considers the needs of your cat can also help prevent your cat wandering too far from home.
- Included free as part of many pet insurance policies
- Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet
- Open 24/7, 365 days a year
Ways to make your garden more appealing to your cat
Cats tend to feel exposed in gardens where there are not many places to hide, therefore providing potted cat-safe plants can help a cat feel more secure with lots of places to hide. Potted plants can be arranged near to a cat flap exit so that the cat can have an area of seclusion as soon as they enter the garden, which should help them feel less vulnerable.
Hedges and shrubs
Hedges and shrubs can help to break up a large open garden and give the cat more opportunities to hide. They create smaller spaces within the garden and allow the cat to survey the area whilst feeling safe.
Placing garden furniture within the garden can help build positive cat-human relationships, as they can both spend time together outside. Furniture also gives extra hiding places and high-up areas for the cat to explore to help utilise the 3-dimensional space.
An old tree trunk can be used to provide the perfect scratching post for a cat whilst they are outside. Cats need to scratch in order to remove the outer shells of their claws, tone muscles and deposit pheromones, so outdoor scratching areas should always be provided.
Climbing plants, small walls and/or bushes at the perimeter
Having the perimeter of the garden filled with bushes and climbing plants allows the cat to travel around the garden whilst being out of sight, and allows predatory behaviour by providing areas to hide and hunt prey. A low wall can allow the cat to utilise the 3 dimensional space and provides exploratory opportunities.
Insect-attracting flowers and activity feeders
Planting insect-attracting flowers and an activity feeder encourages a cat to use it’s predatory skills whilst in the garden. The insect-attracting flowers give cats the opportunity to watch or hunt insects, whilst an activity feeder (no food left in overnight as this can attract other animals) encourages foraging behaviour.
Having water available outside will encourage water intake which is important for cats and it should be placed in a secure area. If a water bowl is used make sure the bowl is cleaned regularly and fresh water is available at all times.
Providing a secure outdoor toileting site for a cat will help them feel secure when urinating and defecating. This may also be advisable to prevent neighbours getting upset with the cat using their garden as a toilet. Sand is very popular with cats as it is very soft on their paws and easy to dig.
Having a shelter for the cat outdoors allows the cat to use the garden in all weathers. A cat house can be used as a sunning site when the weather is good, whilst allowing the cat to shelter inside if it’s too hot or if the weather is bad.
Still have questions?
Book a video consultation with one of our clinical animal behaviourists.
This article was written by Tanith Lee RVN. Tan qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) in 2014. Since then she has worked in a variety of first opinion and referral clinics throughout the UK. She completed the ISFM Diploma in Feline Nursing with Distinction in 2016, and has completed the ISFM Advanced Certificate in Feline Behaviour. Tan is our Veterinary Practice Manager for FirstVet in the UK.