It’s long been known that cats go cray-cray for catnip but what else sparks their attention? With the warm weather set to continue, we are surrounded with gardens in bloom. Gorgeous plants and herbs have sprung all around us, some of which you may have noticed your cat is particularly drawn to. This begs the question: “What’s safe?” This season, ensure you indulge your cat’s senses with those which are non-toxic, as well as steering clear of the ones which can be potentially harmful. Here’s what you need to know.
THE SAFE LIST
While no doubt you’ve already noticed your cat’s soft spot for catnip infused toys, this herb can be grown in your garden too. In the same family as mint (see below), catnip has long been renowned for sending cats a little bit loopy, to say the least. Its effect is short term and completely safe, and can even be eaten in small quantities, although in this instance, it acts as more of a sedative. So if you fancy giving your cat their own personal supply of catnip, go ahead and plant this in your garden!
With mint being catnip’s cousin, it isn’t surprising that cats are partial to its strong scent. While having a good sniff of it won’t have much of an impact, research is divided on what happens when it’s ingested. Some findings suggest that high levels of mint, such as peppermint and spearmint contain salicylate, a chemical also found in aspirin, which is poisonous to cats. Although the levels are generally low, our advice is to allow your kitty to sniff it only.
Turns out wheatgrass is more than just a superfood for humans! Although it’s not essential for a cat’s diet, when ingested, it’s a great source of fibre to aid digestion. Plus, it can help remove hard substances, such as those annoying hairballs. So while your cat’s playing with wheatgrass, if they nibble a bit, don’t panic.
The mild citrus scent of lemongrass is enough to draw cats to it. The key here is to treat this one as a treat, giving only occasionally. A prime benefit of lemongrass is its natural ability to repel mosquitos, so no nasty bites for your feline this summer.
Thought parsley was just an annoying garnish that always appeared on your plate? As a good source of potassium, beta carotene and vitamins A, B and C, this one definitely gets a paws up from your cat.
The smell of a rosemary infused roast cooking is divine, and while we as humans take comfort in its aroma, your cat is no doubt enjoying it too. Plus, it even acts as a natural flea repellent, all the while providing a fresh fragrance for your home. Who knew?!
Usually more of an indoor plant, spider plants have a strong scent, which cats love. This, combined with their inviting dangling leaves makes them a magnet. While there’s no harm in these, beware of the leaves’ pointy ends, which could be choking hazard.
Despite what its name suggests, teucrium marum, or ‘cat thyme’ as it’s more commonly known as, isn’t actually thyme at all! A close relative of germander, its small, oval leaves give it a thyme-like appearance but that’s where the similarities end. With quite a strong, musty scent, which is often disliked by humans, but favoured over catnip by some cats over, this one is definitely better suited to your garden than your home.
THE TOXIC LIST
LILIES (ALL VARIETIES)
Avoid, avoid, avoid! Tiger lilies have long been known as being poisonous to cats, with research by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension backing this up. As little as one bite is all it takes to cause lethargy and vomiting within one hour of consumption.
CALCIUM OXALATE PLANTS
In this category, you’ll find philodendrons, Chinese evergreens, Virginia creepers, spinach, agaves, tea leaves, rhubarb and taro. The needle-like barbs on the steams and leaves can cause inflammation of the mouth, leading to drooling and vomiting.
DAFFODILS AND TULIPS
While both daffodils and tulips are common indoor and outdoor blooms, what’s uncommonly known is that they’re a big no-no for cats. While cats don’t typically try to eat them, if they do, they may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
This popular, leafy plant for the home, includes about 40 varieties, with the popular dragon plant falling in this category. When eaten, cats can become depressed and lose their appetites. Thankfully, the reactions are usually only minor but pay close attention in case symptoms become more severe.
If you suspect your cat has been exposed to or has eaten a plant, herb or flower which could be toxic, seek expert medical advice from a vet asap.