A few weeks ago I almost gave up gardening entirely, for no particular reason.
Well, ok. A small fuzzy reason, who’s really only doing what is natural for small fuzzy not-quite-two-year-old cats: Getting Into Stuff and Wrecking Stuff.
Meet Wingnut (officially Annie “Godzilla” Wingnut). She’s our gardening helper, alarm clock, licker of butter dishes, collider with large fragile objects, toddler in a feline body, torturer of moths, herder of spiders, and aerial artist in training.
Welcome to the Gardening with Young Cats Rodeo
Though this is not our first time at the cat rodeo, it has been almost 20 years since we had a very young cat in the household – long before I started to learn to garden. I have to remind myself that there are plenty of highly dangerous plants that I must avoid, store, ditch, destroy or jettison before Wingnut gets it into her very active mind to eat one for lunch.
Step 1 – Stow the fragile and the breakable safely away
If you’ve raised toddlers, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “Nothing Is Safe.” Same goes for young cats.
There are steps you can take that will make you feel that something is safe. You are wrong – and it is the small child’s or young cat’s job to prove you are incorrect.
Safe is an illusion. For something to be completely safe, it must be in a different house, distant city, another planet, or parallel dimension.
Step 2 – Always put questionable plants out of reach
I usually stow any questionable plants on top of very tall bookshelves that I can barely reach. Not on top of the refrigerator. Wingnut can get up there without breaking a sweat.
I don’t bother with ‘boundary’ sprays like Kitty No. The ones I’ve tried smelled worse than rotting garbage — and the cats didn’t seem to pay any attention to them.
Step 3 – Research plants before acquiring, keeping, or starting from seed
Here are some good resources for finding out what’s a safe plant and what’s not:
- Pet Poison Helpline has a Top Ten list that is handy for research.
- The ASPCA’s toxic plant list is quite comprehensive and there are pictures available if you click on the names in the list.
- The Humane Society offers a downloadable PDF of poisonous plants – good to have around.
- PetMD lists the most common poisonous plants for cats as well as symptoms to watch for and steps to take. This would be a more valuable resource with photos, but it’s good to have for the care instructions.
- When in doubt, call your vet. If you suspect Fluffy has taken a bite out of something poisonous, don’t spend time researching on Google. Get on the phone with a local vet, put a sample of what she’s eaten into a plastic bag, and get treatment started.
This applies even to lovely Mother’s Day tulip bouquets, housewarming chrysanthemums, and Peruvian lilies for the foyer. Gift status doesn’t make them any less deadly.
Gardening with young cats requires research, common sense and the patience of two saints.
Since Garden Lass is not a cat blog like Grumpy Cat, LOL Cats or the 75% of Facebook that isn’t political diatribe or Maxine cartoons, I won’t cave to the temptation to share more than a handful of proud-grandma photos. (I’ve got dozens. Nay, hundreds.)
Ok, here’s one last photo from this morning, just because she’s so durned cute – and because I’m not really going to give up gardening just because we have a feline toddler in the house.
To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass