You can start today to make a garden that your cat will love!
The layout of the garden
Cats love to go outdoors and lie in the sun so do consider this at the planning stage.
They also love to explore, so a garden with patches of bushes or long grass will provide hiding places for the little "hunter." Grass is important because cats eat it to clean out their stomachs. Don't cut it too short.
Cats like climbing trees, but a tree can take up the whole garden and most plants will not grow well near a tree. But if you have a large garden, you could plant a tree. Choose a tree with no thorns. A dead hollow tree stump would make a good playhouse for a cat!
Cats like to be up high. They'd love a kiddies jungle gym to climb. If you have little space, erect gum poles at different heights and let the cat jump from pole to pole You could also make a catwalk with planks.
If you don't want your cat to wander, and if you want to keep other cats dogs out, the cat garden can be enclosed with bird wire. Bird wire is a mesh with small holes. Even a tiny kitten cannot get through bird wire. It is not strong enough to keep dogs out. For dogs you need diamond mesh (chain link). You will need make a roof with a light mesh, or the cat will climb over. Another solution could be to tilt the fence inwards at an angle at the top. It will also prevent your cat from catching birds. You may not want to enclose the whole garden. An elderly cat may not be able to climb.You may wish to enclose only a small area where the cat can go out a window. An elderly cat may not be able to climb. You could place a bird bath & bird feeder outside the cat garden so that the cat can watch the birdies!
To erect a fence, you will need gumpoles a roll of wire to support the mesh, bird wire, brandering to make a frame for the mesh roof, staples, binding wire, pliers and a hammer. You also need a gate so you can go in and out to feed the cats and clean up mess.
If the cat urinates & defecates daily in the same small area, germs will build up. You must provide a litter box which should be out of the rain. You may wish to pave the cat garden and have plants in containers.
A cat might lie on a plant, or dig it up. If you want to protect a plant, cut up small acacia branches, or any thorn branch, and stick it in the ground around the plant like a fence. You can also place logs or stones around the plant.
Plants that cats like
There are many aromatic plants & herbs that your cat will find interesting. You may need to protect the baby plants with wire mesh until they are established. You could also place rocks or bricks around the plants to stop pets lying on them or digging them up. As your cat gets older, he may become visually impaired. He can find his way around by feeling the different surfaces with his paws - lawn, flower bed, gravel, etc. Put gravel or bark round things he may bump into. Aromatic plants like lavender (and many indigenous plants) will help to guide him. If he can't see it, he can smell it.
Catnip is much-loved by cats, so plant lots of it. Spring is the best time to plant everything. You can also try cat mint.
Another plant that cats like is valerian. (Valeriana officinalis). The roots have a smell that is fascinating to a cat. Some say it smells like cat urine. Place rocks or logs round the plant so that the cat doesn't dig it up.
Other plants your cat may approve of are burdock, milk thistle, peppermint, & rosemary. If your cat is sick, he may instinctively nibble at these medicinal herbs.
Lavender, African basil, & marigold are said to keep insects away. (Insects can bother pets)
If you bath your cat, try making a herb rinse of catnip, peppermint, rosemary, dandelion root, & licquorice root (or any one of these). Chop the ingredients and pour a mug of nearly-boiling water over them. Leave to stand till cool. After you've rinsed off the shampoo, pour the herb rinse over the cat. The cat will enjoy licking himself, and it may help to sooth itching. Don't put essential oils from a bottle on the cat, as the concentration is too high and may be toxic. Oils can also be harmful if used to perfume a room in which the cat sleeps.
Plants that are bad for cats
Pennyroyal, lilies, dagga/marijuana, tulip, narcissus & many other bulbs, azalea, rhododendron, oleander, cyclamen, yew, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, & ivy.
Cats usually know what to avoid, but a kitten might eat a plant playfully. If you suspect your pet has eaten a poisonous plant, take the cat, along with the plant, to the vet.
A dog kennel will provide a dry place for the cat to sleep, eat, and hide. If you can raise a wooden kennel up on stilts, your cat will feel safer. Cats like to be up high (preferably in a tree!) Cats & dogs need shade from the sun, and shelter from rain.