Dear Ms. Kitty: Cat gardening goes way beyond growing catnip

By: Sherri Albertson Special to The Gazette
May 27, 2013

Dear Ms. Kitty,

Now that the spring rains have come, I can't wait to spend time in my garden planting flowers, herbs and vegetables. I'm always accompanied by my tabby kitty, Katy, and would like to know what I can plant that is safe and enjoyable for her as well. Thanks for your suggestions. - Eager for Edibles

Dear Eager,

There is an endless variety of flowers and herbs for you and Katy.

As a place to start, you can try several types of impatiens. There are many species from which to choose in multiple colors and sun tolerances. There is also the easy-to-propagate petunia (more than 30 species) and zinnias, which have the added benefit of attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Any of these flowers are safe for nibbling.

For herbs, I'd suggest basil, which, like all mint varieties, is safe for kitties. Coriander (or more commonly called cilantro) is another wonderfully aromatic addition to your kitchen creations. Then there are dill and parsley, as well as the feline favorite catnip.

As cat lovers know, most kitties go crazy for catnip. What you might not know is that catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone with the particular scent that cats enjoy so much. Although the effects differ from cat to cat - only about two-thirds are susceptible - it is agreed that catnip is a potent feline aphrodisiac. Plus, you can dry your own plants to make into toys and treats. The chemical in catnip also is known to repel mosquitoes, flies and mice.

For more on cat-safe plants, consult the ASPCA's list of toxic and nontoxic plants (

While we're on the topic of cat safety, let's talk about leash training and fencing. Most cat guardians will tell you that they enjoy having their kitties with them while outside. Just to be sure, it is best to have your cat tethered in a sun-speckled spot nearby.

Most cats will adapt to a harness or walking jacket once they associate it with the benefit of being outside. The key is to find one that fits properly (check out or the Come With Me Kitty harness at

You might also consider planting Katy her own garden inside an area enclosed by Purrfect fencing.

This is an easy-to-install, sturdy plastic fencing that's made from a flexible material that's hard to climb. Learn more at

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