22 Cat Safe Outdoor Plants For Your Garden

If you consider yourself a bit of a green thumb and you like to let your cats wander about outside then you might worry about them eating something toxic in your garden. While I’ve already called out several of the most common toxic plants in this article here I also wanted to call out some great plants you can grow knowing full well they aren’t dangerous for your cat.

While you can always check the ASPCA’s much more comprehensive database for the safety of a specific plant, this article is intended to call out some of the plants that will not only look nice, but also seem to really encourage your cat to enjoy the garden area.  So let’s get to it, let’s take a look at some cat safe outdoor plants for your garden! I broke it down into four major sections for ease of navigation, use the quick links to get there fast:


  

The Most Obvious Cat Safe Outdoor Plants

cat grass

While it probably really isn’t necessary to call out these two plants because they have the word cat in their name, I’m gonna do it anyway:

  • Catnip – While probably the most obvious and the most likely to pop to mind when asked what cats go nuts for, it is definitely a go to choice worth calling out. Catnip is easy to acquire at places like Home Depot and looks respectable in any garden. It’ll also make your cat either really hyper or really happy, my experience is that it depends on the specific cat!
  • Cat Grass – Cat grass is one of the most common types of plants you’ll see made available for cats because they love to eat it. If you’re curios why you can check out my article on cat grass here and you can also find out how to grow your own here. Cat grass is super easy to grow and it grows really quickly too so it makes a nice filler in a pot or right in the garden!

Herbs and Spices

  • dill on a cutting boardDill – Dill is a wonderful aromatic spice to keep around your kitchen. If you’re not already using it today you definitely should! Dill is best when used fresh as it loses its flavor rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves retain their flavor relatively well for a few months.
  • Parsley – While parsley can be a pain in the neck to grow from seeds, it is an awesome addition to any Italian dish. Once it gets its feet under it in the garden it is easy to grow and completely safe for your cats.
  • Basil – Basil is completely safe for your feline friends and boy does it make a wonderful Caprese salad!  There are a bunch of different kinds of basil and you can explore all of them in safety with your feline pal in mind.
  • Cilantro (Coriander) – Are you into Mexican food? Cilantro makes a wonderful addition to any kind of salsa you might be making at home. It is also a great general garnish for pretty much anything you’d like to add it to.
  • Thyme – Thyme is most commonly used to season meats, a wonderful example is chicken. Thyme grows really well in hot and sunny locations where it won’t get too wet.
  • thyme plantRosemary – Rosemary is an excellent herb to add to your vegetables when you’re cooking at home. On top of this it grows very well in climates that might be subject to drought on a frequent basis.
  • Sage – Referenced in the beautiful song Scarborough Fair along with its friends parsley, rosemary, and thyme, sage is considered one of the essential herbs to have handy in your kitchen. It has a savory, slightly peppery flavor. It appears in many European cuisines.

Vegetables

  • small pumpkinsPumpkins – Pumpkins are one of those plants that grow gigantic and take up loads of space, but in doing so they create all sorts of wonderful shady spots for your cat to take refuge from the sun or just to enjoy padding around and stalking whatever prey might be out in your garden.
  • Cucumbers – Cucumbers are a wonderful addition to any garden. Not only are they incredibly refreshing to eat on their own or when used to infuse some water, but they are also 100% feline approved from a safety standpoint.
  • Squash – Squash plants grow to have leaves with huge surface areas that make a wonderful place for your cat to take refuge in the shade or just find a nice hiding spot.  Squashes are also great vegetables to have around to cook with too!
  • Beets – Beets are simply delicious in my mind, and they are also pretty hands off once you get them to sprout.
  • Kale – We’ve seen kale grow from a mostly unknown plant to the center of the ‘super food’ list in the past few years. There are a wide variety of different kales available and they are a very durable and hardy plant that can be started early in the year to give your garden some color right away!
  • Carrots – You’ll find carrots mixed into all sorts of wet cat foods and you might also be surprised to discover that cats seem to enjoy plain cooked carrots as a treat! Try growing your own and cooking them up for your cat. Raw carrots can be harder for your cat to chew and digest, but they aren’t poisonous so the plant is safe!

Flowers

  • Impatients – Impatients have been one of my favorite plants ever since I was a kid. In general they are easy to grow and I swear every year I see them growing larger and larger, people must be feeding them plant steroids! That being said they are gorgeous and they are relatively durable too so they make a nice plant to run along the sides of your garden and add some color.
  • Petunias – These flowers bring wonderful purples and pinks to your garden and despite originating in South America they grow fine almost anywhere in North America in the summer months.
  • ZinniaZinnias – If you’re looking to bring a bunch of color to your garden this is your go to plant. Zinnias come in a huge range of different colors and even different shapes too. Keep in mind they aren’t a super hardy plant so you’ll have to wait for the warm weather to come before planing these guys.
  • Nasturtium – Newbie gardeners often go for Nasturtium because not only do they have pretty flowers, but they are also edible for humans. They are of course also non toxic to your furball as well!
  • Sunflowers – One of the easiest plants to grow if you have a sunny yard, the only thing you need to keep an eye on is if they get too tall. You can aim for dwarf sunflowers as well to keep them lower to the ground. Given the way sunflowers grow they don’t have a lot of ground cover so they give your cat a wonderful place to go stalking if you plant a few of them in rows!
  • Geraniums – Geraniums come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they have a wonderful aroma. Cats love rubbing their faces all over geraniums and on the bright side it is 100% safe for them to go to town.
  • VioletsViolets – Also commonly known as pansies, violets have actually been cultivated for over 2500 years! The Greeks were growing them back as far as 500 BC, perhaps it was to ensure their cats had cat safe plants around!  These are gorgeous flowers that bring excellent color to your garden.
  • Snapdragons – One of the most unique flowers I’ve ever seen in my life, snapdragons actually look like the face of a dragon!  Maybe your kitty and the snapdragons can have a staring contest to see who is more vicious and the victor will bite the loser!
  • Cornflower – You may have also heard this beautiful blue flower called bachelor’s button, this is an annual plant that brings gorgeous color to any garden.  It gets its name because it often grew in corn fields and was considered a weed to the farmers growing the corn.

Anything Else to Consider?

green beans on a tableWhile most vegetables are deemed relatively safe a few other things you should keep an eye on are the green parts of potatoes and tomatoes. In my article on poisonous plants I explain a bit more about it, but to be safe you should probably keep an eye on your cat if you have tomatoes and potatoes around to ensure they aren’t eating the green parts of the plant.

Beans in general (green beans are a great choice) can also be used in your garden and are mostly cat friendly (avoid castor beans). Since beans tend to grow in a very vine like fashion you can do all sorts of cool stuff to create hiding places or hidden paths for your cat. You can even make a bean teepee for them! And if your cat nibbles on them, which in all likelihood they won’t, they are not considered toxic.


Closing Comments on Cat Safe Outdoor Plants

While you can of course limit your own garden the cat safe outdoor plants I’ve outlined, if you are letting your cat outside she might have access to other gardens as well.  If you’re worried your cat has eaten a poisonous plant then get your cat to a veterinarian as quickly as possible and bring the plant along with you for ease of identification.  If it is after hours and you need help immediately then you can try one of the following:

  • Contact the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at one of these numbers: 1-888-426-4435 (a $65 dollar charge might apply)
  • Call the Pet Poison Help Line at 855-764-7661 (note there is a $59 dollar charge for their help)

Please share any experience you have in keeping your cat from eating plants, poisonous or not. Feel free to leave a comment about it below or email me directly at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com. I’ll be happy to update the article to reflect any additional information!


Please note that StuffCatsWant is providing this information as a service to the public. I am not a veterinarian and nor do I claim to be. While this list was thoroughly vetted against multiple sources you can always check with your veterinarian if you have any doubts. StuffCatsWant disclaims all warranties and liability related to the veterinary advice and information provided on this site.

StuffCatsWant.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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16 thoughts on “22 Cat Safe Outdoor Plants For Your Garden

  • August 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm
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    Hi Craig! Your article has enlightened me on creating an healthy or safe environment for cats specifically and animals in general. I don’t have cats and I don’t have dogs, but my neighbors do. Their owners have told me to stop whatever I was doing because their pets wanted to spend more time at my place than theirs – lol. I never thought about creating an healthy or safe place for them in my yard. Your article opened my eyes.

    All the best to you,
    Don

    Reply
    • August 6, 2017 at 3:15 am
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      Too funny Don, you must have quite an amazing garden planted over there! I’ll have to come check it out at some point :).

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  • August 4, 2017 at 7:16 pm
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    Cats are so curious little things that they explore everywhere, and some even try to do something they shouldn’t do. For that reason, it is so important for us to consciously plant cat-safe trees and bushes to keep our curious kitties out of harm. This article helped me what I can get and still not to worry about my cat getting sick. Most of herbs and flowers listed here are my favorite, so I am glad that I can grow them without hurting my cat. Thank you so much for great tips!

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    • August 6, 2017 at 3:13 am
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      So glad to hear you found the article helpful and that it sounds like you’ve already got great taste in cat friendly plants!

      Reply
  • August 5, 2017 at 1:37 am
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    After reading this, we will definitely check out what type of plants do we have in our garden and if they are ‘compatible’ with our cat. This really helps and thanks for writing this.

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    • August 6, 2017 at 3:14 am
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      No problem, glad it was useful in keeping another cat safe!

      Reply
  • August 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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    The way you explain the danger of cats and plants, is interesting to know because my wife is always planting something.

    Even me and cats do not get along doesn’t mean I wish the any harm.
    I will make sure my wife sees this post.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2017 at 12:29 am
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    Hey! In my neighborhood we have all sorts of cats that just hang out (my neighbor is active in a catch-spay-release program). We also have a garden that is full of tomato and basil plants. We will have to be careful about the green parts of the tomato plant, but everything else should be fine. Thanks!

    Reply
    • August 8, 2017 at 1:21 am
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      That’s great! TnR programs are wonderful and are far more effective than trapping and relocating cats. Most cats don’t really mess with the tomatoes on their own, but definitely keep an eye on them :).

      Reply
  • August 7, 2017 at 12:49 am
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    Before reading this article, I have not given much thought to what is in my garden, my front yard or my backyard. Luckily, from your article, we are good with our Betty Bop. We also have a puppy, Prince. I am assuming this would be the same for dogs. Both of them are explorers, so we must be careful. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2017 at 1:20 am
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      Surprisingly dogs are actually impacted by some of the same things, but there’s a bunch of stuff that dogs find toxic that cats do not. You might want to double check the aspca list of poisonous plants for dogs. You can find it at the same ASPCA link above I provided.

      Reply
  • August 7, 2017 at 10:01 am
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    Hi, Craig. My cat Archie loves to eat grass (and throwing up). Everytime he gets supervised outdoor time, he’d be chewing on grass! So I decided to get him cat grass and he loves it. Which I also think is better for him since it’s organic and meant for cats. I have a rosemary bush outside too and several other local plants but he doesn’t get to chew on any of those. LOL!

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s very useful information.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2017 at 9:15 pm
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    What a helpful and creative list of plants! I noticed that you are missing one of my favorites: Catmint, aka Nepeta x faassenii. It grows into big fluffy mounds with gorgeous purple flowers, and cats really enjoy it. They roll in it and flatten it! I am going to try some of the others you have included. Great article!

    Reply
    • September 4, 2017 at 2:14 am
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      Catmint is a wonderful option as well. While I believe it is technically a subset of catnip you’re 100% right that the naming at the store will likely be different. Cats love it as well and it is a great option for any garden! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Reply

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