Cats and our gardens are generally a bad combination. Whether it's our own beloved feline crushing our prized perennials or a neighbour's cat improvising a litter box on our lawn, cats and gardens are a bad mix. However don't lose hope, cats are intelligent and can easily be conditioned to respect our gardens. This can be applied to whether we want to create a "cat zone" in our garden for our own feline, or if we want to keep the marauding mass of neighbourhood cats away.
Of course the best and most effective solution would be to keep our cats indoors and only allow them outdoor on a leash. The primary cause of early cat mortality and development of infectious disease is from their unsupervised outdoor wanderings. While we can insure that our own cats become "leash lovers", we cannot control the actions of others, thus we need to be aware of the variety of ways to keep cats from claiming our gardens.
While some prefer to "acquaint" unwelcome cats with a quick and unexpected squirt from their garden hose, this method can traumatize the poor animal and only works if you guard your property militantly for weeks until they have associated your property with "water attacks". A more subtle, yet effective method would be to plant Rue throughout your garden wherever your "guests" frequent. Cats find the strong odour of Rue to be extremely offensive. Other "odourifous" methods include: Scattering cayenne pepper after every rainfall in your garden, spreading crushed hot peppers, and pouring a mixture of grapefruit and lemon rind throughout the garden.
Another possible solution is to spray your property with predatory urine. Cats mark their personal territories through the process of spraying their "turf". Individuals can purchase "urine" sprays for their garden that in effect "mark" their lawn, signifying a dominant cat has already claimed the garden. You can even go so far as to order Coyote urine to mark your property (just don't tell the neighbours what you are spraying or they will think you are insane). Another possibility is the "Get off my Garden" crystals from Australia. These clear crystals ward off neighbouring cats through an intense odour (unnoticeable to humans). They actually become more effective after each rainfall. Finally, there are the American electronic-fright devices such as Scat Cat and Scarecrow. Both apply the same method of unexpected movement, flashing lights and surprise.
On the other hand, creating a "Cat Garden" within your existing garden can be both enjoyable for yourself and your beloved pet. By creating a "room of their own" in the garden, you not only increase their stimulation, but also deter them from approaching or damaging other areas of your garden.
Of course the plant to begin with is Nepeta Cataria, otherwise known as Catnip. This lush, beautiful plant with its scattering of pale blossoms will not only amuse your cat, it will be a beautiful addition to your garden. Just remember to put it into the mid or back section of your "Cat garden", as it will take a fair amount of abuse from your feline. Other plants to include in your cat's garden are: Catmint (Nepeta mussinii), an elegant hardy plant with attractive silver leaves that your cat will enjoy rolling in. Cat thyme (Teucrium marum) a member of the mint family, will provide hours of enjoyment with its subtle and intoxicating aroma. Silver Vine (Actinidia plygama), Valerian (Valeriana officianalis) and Cat grass, will all create a sense of ecstatic frenzy in your cat. Their intoxicating aromas and enjoyable texture will amuse your cat for hours. In addition, all of these plants are visually stunning and will help you to create a beautiful and dramatic design.
To truly create a Garden of Eden for your cat you will also need to have a secluded (hidden) area of litter for your cat, just remember to use the non-clumping formula.
Through a mixture of these methods our furry felines and we can live not only in harmony, but appreciate the wonders of nature together.
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