Is It OK to Let My Cat in the Garden?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, offers tips for keeping your kitty safe.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: May 15, 2009, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: Is it safe for my cat to go into my garden?

A: At this time of year, we are getting out our shovels and trowels to prepare for spring planting so your question is well-timed. I had one client who allowed her cat Merlin to go in her private outdoor garden through an open window. Luckily the garden was completely enclosed, otherwise leaving a window open in the city is a total no-no.

Still, it bothered me and I asked if she would keep Merlin inside while she was away. I was worried that when I did my housecalls, he would be outside and I would never see him. Unfortunately, she said that since Merlin was used to being outside, she didn’t want to keep him in, adding that "he would be fine." Famous last words.

On my second visit I discovered to my horror that Merlin was quite the hunter. I walked in to find pigeon feathers everywhere and what was left of the poor dead bird on the floor. It was an awful sight. I cleaned it up, grimacing all the way. I guess Merlin was bringing me a gift — but it was one I could have lived without!

If your cat goes in your garden, be mindful of poisonous plants. According to the ASPCA,  common plants such as philodendron, lilies and tulips can be dangerous if eaten — and that could mean only a small leaf. You might try spraying your plants with a pet-safe repellant or surrounding them with a chicken wire fence, which is easy to install.

You could also consider giving your kitty her own patch of grass and plant some catnip there to distract her from your garden. Also check to see if the fertilizer and herbicide you use is safe for cats. I will say though, the safest way to ensure your cat will not get into trouble outside is to keep her inside.

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

3/7/2013 11:50:26 PM


Jan    Mayer, AZ

3/5/2013 8:19:57 PM

Our cats have their own garden. It is 12 x 20 feet, has catnip as well as grass planted inside, as well as a large log to sharpen claws on. They can come and go as they wish through a doggie door. We live in a rural area, and even though our backyard has a six foot fence, we don't take any chances. Our two small dogs also enjoy the cat run. This is the perfect solution for us to allow our pets to enjoy some time outdoors in a safe manner.

Rachel    Seabrook, TX

10/11/2010 4:20:59 PM


Linda    St. Louis, MO

5/20/2009 12:33:22 PM

I admit that I let my kitties out in my gardens, but they are harnessed and leashed, plus my back yard(though near a street) is fenced. While I am trying my best to keep my cats safe, I feel they really enjoy the stimulation of the different smells and textures outside. Plus it is more exercise than they get inside the house.

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