If a cat has free access to a garden through a cat door and a cozy spot in the house, it inhabits an ideal living environment from a cat’s point of view. Although she is under human care, she is free to decide whether she wants to stay indoors or outdoors and can act out her species-appropriate behavior outdoors. To avoid misunderstandings: A cat that does not know how to go outside, but finds appropriate activity as a house cat, is basically no worse off than the garden outside cat, depending on the breed. However, the garden is not a danger-free zone either. With a trained eye, you can discover sources of risk and make the outdoor area safe for cats.
What are the advantages of being outdoors in the garden for cats?
The garden offers the cat different incentives to discover and observe every day. From the weather to contact with other animals that move around the cat’s territory, there is always something interesting happening. Sunshine on the fur, wet grass under the paws, or the chirping bird: all of this is constantly being rediscovered and analyzed. In addition, there are varied scents, visits from friendly neighbor cats or rivals who have to be driven away. Outdoors, mental alertness, and athletic skills are developed in climbing and sprinting. The garden access can contribute to the vitality of the velvet paw.
What dangers lurk in the garden?
However, there are things in every garden that – seen from a cat’s perspective – harbor a high potential for danger. However, with a little care, you can easily avoid most of these risks.
Rain barrels, ponds, swimming pools
Uncovered areas of water can easily become a cat’s undoing. Under unfortunate circumstances, the tiger falls in and cannot free himself from the water.
Be sure to cover rain barrels and secure a garden pond with a net in winter – thin, fragile surfaces of ice could tempt inexperienced cats to risky sledding. In addition, under no circumstances should creepers grow or fish be placed in the garden pond. If you have a pool in the garden, make sure that there is always a kind of “lifeguard” protruding into the water on the inside.
Fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides
When gardening, toxic substances and chemicals should be avoided as far as possible, but sometimes you just can’t do without them. Make sure that the remedies themselves are not lying around within reach of the cat and that no leftovers are left in beds or on the paths. Do not fight unwanted guests with poison!
As a resident of public walkways and main roads, you will probably sometimes be annoyed by the rubbish that is carelessly thrown or blown over the fence. Check the yard carefully for plastic bags (choking hazard!), broken glass, and choking hazards.
Garden fences that are directly adjacent to a road should be designed in such a way that the cat cannot simply slip through and run straight onto the road. Additional wire mesh on the inside of the fence or a dense hedge slows the animal down at this danger point. Such obstacles also make it difficult to access the property of neighbors who are less cat-tolerant.
Hunting areas in the vicinity
Even if you live in a rural area, a cat’s exploration beyond the garden fence can end fatally. In such areas, cat-proof fencing is particularly important.
Neighbor’s dogs and strange cats
If a dog is allowed to roam free in the neighboring garden and does not get along well with cats, serious confrontations can occur – even across property boundaries. Even more dominant cats can invade the garden and cause discord.
Plants belong in the garden. But not every plant is harmless for a cat that nibbles on it out of curiosity. Certain plants with prickles or thorns also pose a risk of injury for the velvet paw – for example, barberries, blackberries, bed roses, and outdoor cacti.
What plants are dangerous for cats?
While cats have experience avoiding contact with sharp spikes, poisonous plants are a more common health hazard. A variety of typical garden plants are more or less toxic. Although cats, as carnivores, are not known for grazing on larger stands of plants, one or the other plant can certainly be nibbled on. For the sake of the cat, do without the flowers and shrubs on our checklist in your own garden.
But be careful: this list is far from complete – if in doubt, find out about the properties of the plants before you start garden design. It is best to ask your veterinarian for expert advice.