Allowing your new kitten or cat into the garden can be a good way of letting them satisfy their instincts to explore their territory, play outside, climb, and do all the other things cats just love to do! The garden can become both a safe and enriching environment for your kitten to be in, as they take their first steps in exploring the world (or claiming it as their own).
Table of contents
Creating a cat-friendly garden
There are many ways you can make the garden a safe place for your cat to play and explore. Here are a few of the ways you can bring your garden up to code for your cat or new kitten.
Remove all dangers and hazards
The most important step is making your garden as safe as possible and avoid any health risks or injuries. First, check the perimeters of the garden. Making sure there aren’t any places where a cat could get itself trapped or injured, such as loose fencing, holes, or broken pots. Don’t be afraid to get close to the ground and see the garden from a cat’s perspective. This could reveal many potential dangers you wouldn’t otherwise notice!
There are also a number of plants that are toxic to cats, including lilies. But other common plants, which are perhaps less known, include poppies, marigolds and chrysanthemums. While most cats will instinctively avoid eating these, there is still a risk they might ingest the plant or its pollen when grooming after being outside.
It is also worth noting that many insecticide or pesticide products could be harmful to cats. Even those which are labelled as organic. Keep your cat inside while using these products, and try to let the plants dry for a couple hours before letting them out again.
Create safe hiding spaces
The garden is an open space. It could be perceived as threatening to your cat and make them feel unsafe. So make sure to provide some safe hiding spots. This could easily be achieved by planting some dense shrub or strategically placing plants to create hiding spaces. Perhaps you have some old boxes or furniture lying around which you could use to create a sheltered spot. Get creative, making a cat house is easier than you think!
Provide an outdoor toilet
Cats generally prefer to toilet outside, far away from their other resources such as food and water. Find an area in the garden that is quiet and more secluded (such as behind a bush or bigger plant), where your cat will feel safe when they do their business. Clear the area and lay down substrates which will encourage them to use it as a private toilet. Woodchips often work well, or you could also try sand or gravel. Make sure to regularly remove any faeces and turnover or replace the substrate – no one likes a dirty toilet!
You might want to have some plants which most cats enjoy. Providing them with stimulation, and making your garden just that little bit more exciting for your cat. Catnip and honeysuckle are popular choices, as it gives most cats (but not all!) a sense of euphoria and relaxation. Some cats also enjoy a bit of Catgrass to nibble on, with oat-grass and wheat-grass being common choices.
Beware of intruders!
Your cat will certainly appreciate the effort you put into making the garden relaxing and comfortable for them; unfortunately, so might the rest of the cats in the neighbourhood! Having intruders in their territory can quickly become stressful for your cat, so try and address the problem as soon as possible. Set up high fencing to mark the physical boundary around the garden, which your cat can then patrol and mark with their scent. Help your cat feel safe in their territory, by securing the hiding spots mentioned above, as well as installing a microchip cat flap (stopping other cats from entering your house).
When can I first let my cat outside?
Getting a new cat is an exciting time. It may be tempting to immediately let them roam around all their new home, including the garden. However, make sure you give lots of time for your cat to get used to their environment, and settle down. It is recommended that you keep them indoors for at least 2-3 weeks, (or even longer if they’re slower to adapt) before considering letting them out.
With the garden ready, and your cat vaccinated and microchipped, you can finally give them their long-awaited freedom. Then simply sit back, and watch as your cat slowly takes over your garden!