How to Garden with Cats without going Bats

B-but-but, Mom... why can't I eat the pepper plant?

B-but-but, Mom… why can’t I eat the pepper plant?

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:

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.)

2014-06-30 06.17.49Ok, 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


Household Rebellion, Chatterbox vs Garlic

Wounded yet carrying on

Midafternoon, I heard a bit of a kitty kommotion from the general direction of the guest bedroom which has been pressed into double duty as an afternoon sunroom. Stood up from my desk and came around, across the hall and toward the noise. There stood Chatterbox, backing away from the windowsill as best she could while balancing on a side chair.

One of the three garlic seedlings lay on the ground beneath the windowsill, gasping for breath, trapped beneath an avalanche of Miracle Gro potting soil, and – sadly – the pot itself. I sensed very little signs of life.

“So – what happened..?” me.

Silence from both Chatterbox and the garlic seedling. Chatterbox was choked by guilt, and the garlic was too wounded to respond.

I picked up the vict- er.. plant, and gently pushed it back into position in the potting soil gathered from the (of course it’s pale beige…) carpet. A bit of liquid, a careful trimming of nigh-severed limbs, and this brave soldier, martyr to the cause, returned to its previous post. I moved the chair away from the temptation of the windowsill, retrieved the big ugly loud vacuum monster (Chatterbox’s words, not mine) from its closet, and cleaned up the potting soil mess.

A few minutes later, I peeked around the corner, just to see if the garlic was showing any signs of life. No change, but Chatterbox had taken up vigil on the guest bed, glaring balefully in the direction of the snitch– er.. garlic.

I picked up the severed garlic stem and held it beneath her nose. She sniffed, perked up, and bit into it with vigor. Then just as vigorously, she stopped biting at it and wrinkled her nose in disgust.

Sometimes a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do. But somehow I think that’s the last time she’s gotta do garlic.