Scottish cat lovers have been given some top tips to ensure their moggies make the most of their gardens this summer.
With the growing season around the corner, Cats Protection has compiled its top tips to help Scottish cat lovers create the perfect feline-friendly garden.
The charity, which will be attending this year’s Gardening Scotland event from 1-3 June, has come up with ideas for planting and design to keep cats amused and safe outdoors this spring.
Cats Protection is the UK’s largest feline welfare charity and has 42 volunteer-run branches in Scotland – as well as an adoption centre in Glasgow – which rehome cats and kittens, provide cat care advice to the public and promote neutering to help reduce the unwanted cat population.
Cats Protection’s events manager Emma Osborne said the charity was often asked by Scottish cat owners how they can encourage cats to stay closer to home.
She said: ‘Just like us, cats love to be out and about, particularly during the warm summer months, and will seek out areas to play, snooze and relax outdoors.
‘Creating a feline-friendly garden is a great way to encourage your cat to stay closer to home, keeping them safer and ensuring you can enjoy their company.
‘While there’s no reason cats can’t enjoy the summer months just as much as their owners, it’s important to remember that they do need to be protected from the sun too. Sunburn is a particular danger, especially for white cats or those with pale ears, so precautions should be taken to ensure they’re protected from the sun’s rays on very hot days.’
Other tips for keeping cats safe and amused in the garden are:
Cats love to nibble grass, and it is believed that it helps them to cough up hairballs. A particularly popular variety is Cocksfoot, which has broad leaves making it easy to bite. Cats will love their own grassy patch in their favourite spot in the garden.
The ultimate garden treat for fun-loving felines is Catnip (Nepeta cataria), a plant which is renowned for inducing a highly excitable reaction in cats. Not all cats are susceptible, but those that do will show great interest in the plant – rubbing, licking and sniffing it with delirious enjoyment for around 10 minutes. Dried catnip is available in pet shops, but the fresh plant makes an attractive addition to the garden for both owner and puss. As it’s a member of the mint family, it can become invasive so is best confined to a pot rather than in the ground.
Lavender is a great herb to plant in a feline-friendly garden, providing a bushy and attractive hiding place for cats.
Cats love to lounge in the sun, but can be prone to sunburn. Planting large shrubs gives cats the opportunity to seek shade while still enjoying the warm weather.
Aside from planting, gardeners can look at other ways to make their garden interesting for their cat. Piles of logs make excellent areas for scratching claws, while low shrubs make interesting hiding places for cats to snuggle up in for an al-fresco snooze.
Avoid plants which can be dangerous to cats. Lilies in particular can be lethal if a cat ingests pollen from its fur after brushing against them. A full list of plants that are dangerous to cats can be found on Cats Protection’s website www.cats.org.uk/dangerous-plants
Ensure your cat is fully vaccinated before venturing outdoors to protect against diseases and parasites. Neutering is also vital to prevent unwanted kittens being born and to reduce roaming.
Cats Protection recommends microchipping as a safe, effective way of identifying your cat should he become lost when outdoors.
As well as sharing gardening tips, Cats Protection’s new-look stand at Gardening Scotland will be a hive of activity for cat lovers, with cat care leaflets and guides, a range of merchandise and information about how to become a volunteer for the charity.