Small Trees/Shrubs/Plants - Cat enclosure

ginamarina(z4/5 WI)September 25, 2006

hi - I'm going to be installing 100' of special cat fencing around my backyard. I know I need to check all plants for toxicity, but I'd like to find some bushes or small trees to plant within the enclosure. I can't have trees that overhang the fence :-)

There are so many toxic plants according to the cfa website, that they put up a non-toxic plant list - lol -

I have some mint from my mom's creek in high cliff that should be ok, and catnip, but apparently ferns and most everything else I have are poisonous, even though I can't imagine my cats eating anything on a tomato plant!

I thought this enclosed area would be wonderful to actually landscape, but it doesn't look I can just plant whatever I want. Anyone have any ideas? Especially for taller things. Or maybe I should just opt for a couple mini fruit trees. (Except cherries - lol - they're on the bad list).

Thanks in advance for any ideas,


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Gina, my cat roams free in the yard, and I plant whatever I want. It seems that animals know what not to eat...

It's not like you're putting anti-freeze (sweet) where your dog can lap it up. I would just avoid the obvious bad boys like datura.

But that's just me. Cotoneaster is a nice hardy shrub. Is that on the bad list?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 9:56AM
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Hi Gina,
I have had many cats, and other pets and many, many plants. I agree with elvis, they seem to know what they are not supposed to eat. Plant what you like and don't worry about toxic plants, they won't eat it unless they are drawn to it. My cats enjoy the "kitty plants" and ignore the others. You may want to protect freshly tilled soil and/or newly planted beds from the kitty as they are drawn to it for other more smelly reasons and once they pick a spot it is hard to prevent them from returning there. This can cause a problem for future plants growing there as well as obviously the ones that are there now. If you have a small inclosed area you may want to have an outdoor littler box that you would want to move in case of rain if you want the kitties to have outdoor freedom. Other things you can do to make the garden more kitty friendly is to provide a place for them to lie. Mine like to sit under the stairs so I put a little straw there for them to lie on. Of course she likes to watch the birds as much as I do so I put the feeders and houses where she can see them, but not get them. I have also found that the cats seem to like fresh air, but don't really care all that much if they actually go out (differs from cat to cat). Many are perfictly happy to just have the window cracked and sniff the air and not actually go out.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 12:11AM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

Thanks for your advice. I thought it was kind of odd that the majority of plants seem to be toxic - yet there are cats all over. I've never seen one eating a tomato plant leaf... I know Lily of the Valley is out, stuff like that. At they have a page on "how to plant a cat-safe garden". I was glad to see that Hostas are on the "good list". They will do well along the fence line (and eliminate the mowing problems!). They list the 10 least wanted plants as: Castor Bean, Oleander, Morning Glory, Japanese Yew, Jerusalem Cherry, Foxglove, Nightshade, Lily of the Valley, Precatory Beans and trumpet vine.

I am wondering about a small tree - maybe a Magnolia or a Locust (the one without thorns/pods). The pods are poison. I know the locust gets big, but I'd really like to have one somewhere near my deck for the dappled light. I'm also wondering if maybe Sumac - the staghorn kind here in Wisconsin - can grow as a decent little tree if it's kept pruned. I have an old fashioned Lilac in the front yard that I've been keeping as a tree, it's kind of fun, and I just mow off the suckers, but it's beginning to look like Bonsai :-)

This area will be dedicated to my beloved best friend Priscilla. I only wish she was here to enjoy this new enclosure. I had built a small enclosure for the cats, but Cilla only seemed to enjoy being outside if I was, and I couldn't sit in the enclosure. There were too many times when I'd move my chair close to the enclosure and put my hand through the fence to touch her while I read. Now my entire deck will be a part of the enclosure for us to enjoy. I love my cats so very much, and I'm looking forward to having a smaller area in my 5 acres that I can *really* focus on landscaping.

I've resisted buying anything yet - I took the old enclosure down today, need to do some cleanup yet around the deck tomorrow, and finish the sump pump drain. The parts for the new cat fence have arrived,and hopefully by the end of the weekend I will have an enclosed safe area for all kitties to come. And let the landscaping begin :) (1650 sq ft enclosed - 325 of it is deck - I cheated and found a calculator online) :)


Here is a link that might be useful: fence-to-be

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 12:24AM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

Well, it's beginning to look like spring, and even though I'm sick as heck, the seed catalogs are coming and Menards is starting to have plants...

I have the fence up, and a huge area of what is now a mess of grass, wood chips, and mud - with some branches and logs interspersed so Buddy has something to do out there besides sit on the deck rail.

I almost lost my little boy in January due to a reaction with anesthetic at the Animal Referral Center. I made a promise to him that "we" would make this garden. Ten years ago Buddy found me in my garden - he never left. So I'm not breaking my promise to him.

I wish one of these seed companies would come out with a non-toxic catalog of stuff for our area, because I've googled "toxic plants cats" or "pets" many times and I get mixed results. Sometimes I find the same flower on both lists, today I can't find one listing of the maiden grass or fountain grass I just saw at Menards.

I have lots to do this spring to make this little garden come alive, I'm excited, I have lots of stepping stones, bricks, and logs. But so far the plants have been frustrating. A magnolia bush is safe, somewhere. I'm still trying to determine if I can have a lilac.

so far I have hostas, catnip, peppermint, and astilbe to transplant in there. Bulbs are out, except muscari.

one of the many lists is linked below.

Does anyone have some ideas for me? I don't want to have to mow, so a type of grass or groundcover that stays low would be ideal. Most of the herb-garden plants are ok. Zinnias, Snapdragons and Marigolds. I'd rather have perennials or at least something that re-seeds.

These lists just cover so many plants I've never heard of, probably because they don't grow here, and some of them are house plants. I know strawberry plants are safe, so I am going to have plenty of strawberry pots and beds! :)

Any input would really be appreciated. This project is taking priority over my veggie garden this year.


Here is a link that might be useful: ASPCA's list (one of many)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 9:26PM
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