Cat-friendly Enrichment Plants

by Jan Van Horn

When you are planting your summer flowers and favorite vegetables of the season, it’s a great time to put in a little love foliage for your favorite feline. We all know kitties love cat nip, but there are a few less-known herbs that they also find favor with—and you can, as well! We have put together a short list of plants that you and your feline fur baby can both enjoy. Whether you are a big farmer of land, spreading out far and wide, or more of a patio container kind of Mr. Green Jeans, these few plants are grown with ease and minimal care.

LEMON GRASS: Makes a lovely tea and is pleasant to flavor food with. As far as kitty is concerned, it is a stimulant (similar to other cat grasses) that cats love to smell and nibble on.

LICORICE ROOT: As someone who found licorice disgusting as a child and still as an adult, something called licorice root really held zero interest for me. However, in the name of broadening my horizons, I have opened my narrow childhood mind to the fact that licorice root is regarded as one of the best medicinal plants with a long list of do-good qualities. It is a consoling balm to an itchy kitty having anti-inflammatory characteristics and a natural cortisone. Bonus: kitties love the taste!

VALERIAN: Presents itself with bunches of small white or pink blooms and is extremely pungent. It is well-known for being an aid to relaxation and restful sleep. However, that is not the case for your feline friend. It is quite stimulating when eaten (much like catnip) to cats and has been known to put the laziest lounge lizard of a kitty into Richard Simmons exercise mode. So if you are looking for putty tat to get going while you nap, this is your plant.

PEPPERMINT and CATMINT: A very easy and rampant grower, peppermint is lovely to have around to flavor your iced tea, to make a mint julep or just to take in the sweet smell. Cats are attracted to the smell, and mice find it unappealing. There could be the added benefit of Mr. Whiskers not leaving Mr. Mouse at your feet if you choose to grow some peppermint. Typically, cats are more opt to frolic in peppermint than to eat it. Catmint will not only draw your kitty in with it’s pretty purple blossoms, but it also attracts bees and butterflies.

DANDELION ROOT: Once you have blown the fluff and made a wish, you can thank this little gem for all of its medicinal purposes! While generally purveyors of lawns are not happy to find dandelions, they perhaps should reassess their thinking on that. Dandelion root is a soothing anti-itch remedy for kitties bothered with allergies. You can also make you favorite feline a yummy salad from the leaves.

As always, it is wise to check with your vet when introducing anything new to your pet. Hopefully these suggestions may give your beloved house plants a bit of a rest while kitty is occupied with some new feline-friendly foliage.