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Grow Your Own Cat Herb Garden | Training | PupstoPet

The majority of cats love catnip.
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Most animals might benefit from a little green in their diets, even our carnivorous feline friends. While it’s not quite clear why cats enjoy nibbling on foliage, it’s obvious that most like to do so. Your cat might just enjoy nibbling on some fresh herbs for no particular reason other than she likes the taste and/or texture.

Not sure which herbs are best for kitties? Here is my list of a few cat-friendly herbs, grasses and plants.

 

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
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Catnip

If you have cats, you can’t have an herb garden without catnip, Nepeta cataria. Even if a cat doesn’t respond to the herb (50 to 75 percent have some type of reaction), he might still enjoy gnawing on it. Catnip typically has a stimulant effect on cats when inhaled and, conversely, a sedative effect when eaten.[1]

Valerian Root

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
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For humans, valerian, Valeriana officinalis, acts as a mild sedative.[2] In cats, it has the opposite effect, acting as a stimulant and making it an excellent substitute for catnip for many cats.[3] You’ll love the delicate white and lavender blooms of the valerian plant and your cat will adore the root. After your cat has dug up the root (and he probably will), store it in an airtight jar away from sunlight to maintain its efficacy (and to enclose its awful smell), or dry it out and crush for some longer-lasting herbs your cats will love.

Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
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Many cats will gnaw peppermint plants, Mentha × piperita, down to stubs—and that’s OK, because this hardy plant will just regrow. (Catnip is a member of the mint family, so it makes sense that a cat might be drawn to peppermint as well.) In both people and pets, peppermint is said to have a soothing effect on upset stomachs.[4] I always have planters of this stuff growing around our yard. It smells amazing and attracts all things good (especially cats). When planting this herb, you’ll want to give it its own planter as it will take over any garden rather quickly.

Silvervine (Actinidia polygama)

Silvervine

This beautiful plant, Actinidia polygama, is native to Japan, but can be grown in zones 4 to 9 in the United States with special care. Silvervine is a great alternative to catnip and considered much more potent, so even if your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, he might respond to this.[5]

Cat Thyme

Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)

Teucrium marum is not actually thyme, even though it looks similar to it. Cats, however, don’t care what it’s called; they love if for its pungent scent. Most will roll around in it and if given the chance, squash it flat while taking a nap on I (fortunately, it’s also a hardy plant). Cat thyme is also good for any garden as it attracts pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.[6]

Growing Guidelines

  1. Choose a heavy container: If you’re not planting directly into the yard, select a planter your cat will not be able to overturn. If you have more than one cat, remember that bigger is better.
  2. Decide on the grasses or herbs you would like to grow. There are thousands of safe plants you could grow for your cat (The ASPCA offers a list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats.)
  3. Enjoy watching your cat as he munches or rolls on his fresh garden

About the Author: Stacy Mantle is a fulltime freelance writer, bestselling author and founder of PetsWeekly.com. She resides in the deserts of the Southwest with a few dogs, several cats and a very understanding husband.

[1] Landsberg, G. M., Hunthausen, W. L., Ackerman, L., & L, G. (2012). Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat (3rd ed., p 144) Oxford: W B Saunders Co.

[2] Vaughan, J. G., & Judd, P. A. (2006). The Oxford book of health foods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[3] Bol, S., Caspers, J., et al.. (2017). Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria). BMC Veterinary Research, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6

[4] Vaughan, J. G., & Judd, P. A. (2006). The Oxford book of health foods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[5] Bol, S., Caspers, J., et al.. (2017). Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria). BMC Veterinary Research, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6

[6] Mountain Valley Growers. (n.d.). Teucrium maru, cat thyme. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/teumaru.htm

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