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Bringing the great outdoors to your indoor feline friend

News-Bringing the great outdoors to your indoor feline friend-Scratchy Things

It's a fact that indoor cats live longer, but what about the quality of their lives and the things they're missing out. Surely there must be a solution that'll enhance their experiences, stimulate them more mentally and physically. Despite our good intentions and best efforts, cats who never venture out into the great outdoors miss out on some of the things that makes life interesting.

 

According to Wikipedia and ASPCA, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13-17 years, and many may live to be in their early 20s. The oldest cat on record was Creme Puff who lived an astonishing 38 years.

 

It doesn't matter how old your indoor cat is, one thing is certain, we almost always forget that there are things in life a cat should experience. Although our love and attention, and spoiling them with delicious luxury foods and toys may seem like we're doing enough, there's always room for improvement. And if we're lucky, our feline friends may give us a few years more, maybe we could even dream of them surpassing Creme Puff.

 

So what are we to do, what's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about cats in the meadows, surrounded by bees, with birds chirping and flying high, grass brushing against the soft cat fur. It's the smells of the grass and flowers, the scent that lingers in their fur, stays deeply embedded in their noses.

 

The Internet is full of articles about cat-safe plants and we're going to name a few that worked well in our home.

  

Catnip

 

The first thing that naturally comes to mind is catnip. Doesn't matter if it's fresh or dried, 2/3 of the cats love it. There are numerous kinds of it and it basically grows like a weed. It loves sunny places and will thrive on your windowsill, soaking in the sun just like a cat would. Fresh Catnip may not be the prettiest plant, but that's just our opinion, and we're not always right.

 

 cat and catnip

 

Cat Grass

 

It's not a specific kind of grass, but a mixture of barley, wheat, oats or rye which are grown from seed. This isn't your standard lawn grass, but a grass that's specifically grown indoors for household pets. The grass is great because of it beneficial to a cat's digestive system. The grass contains folic acid, a vitamin that aids the bloodstream. It also works as a laxative, helping push out hairballs or bits of food the cat ingested.

 

The downside of cats eating grass is that it's likely you'll find barfed traces of it. Not to worry, it's a good sign that she unclogged a hairball that was stuck.

 

We generally always have a batch of freshly grown cat grass at our home and we serve it on our Wally Step Feeder shelf.  I remove a dish and replace it with a planter of cat grass (I prefer using IKEA's Socker planter because it looks best beside the bowl), after a few hours I remove it because some of our cats start digging the soil.

cat grass

 

Some cats will be enticed to eat grass and drink more water, so I sometimes leave the pot right beside the cats' fountain.

 

The other thing I've found is putting a planter of grass in the middle hole of a Floory Feeder (ours is a 3 dish kind) because it instantly feels fresh and calming and acts as a dividing wall between two cats eating, which I find is a great confidence booster in our more timid foster cats.

 

Important: If your cat starts excessively overeating cat grass it may be a sign of sickness. Take her to the vet to be sure there isn't an underlying medical reason that's making her sick.

 

Spider plant

 

Ideal for those of us without green thumbs. It can thrive in low light and appears hard to kill (mine is a 2yearold and I may be the best cat parent, but I'm also the worst plant person. I'm a cold-blooded killer of plants, and I don't even try to kill them. But I'm the one who forgets about them, uses the wrong water, when it's too dry I make them a monsoon kind of swamp thing... Yes, I truly am the worst). Spider plant sprouts spider plant babies, which you can pluck off and propagate in water or soil(never tried it because my cats chew of the baby plants and carry them around the apartment. Nothing survives such a vicious cat attack.)

 spider plant, cat safe plant, non-toxic

Spider plant is one of those plants that looks great up high, so I love putting them on shelves that my cats can reach, or I'll put them in a Wally Step Feeder up on the wall, along with a few snacks in the bowl beside it, just to entice my lazier cats to climb up and get a double treat. Oh, and the fun part, Spider plant has a hallucinogenic chemical substance similar to catnip. So, while it's all pretty and cascading great down the shelves, keep in mind that cats are sometimes lovely idiots who might think the floor is lava and you're a giant mouse, and might act accordingly.

 

I would recommend you don't have it in cats reach at all times because there soon might be nothing left but a grassy vomit littering your fav carpet.

 

Conclusion: Spider plants may be pretty and hard for us to kill, but a good "trip" might be something your cats might enjoy even more, and inevitably kill the poor thing. We can't all be winners.

 

Parlor Palm

 

Now, this is a real stunner and goes perfectly into that corner of your home that needs just a simple touch of light. It's another hard to kill plant, and although when you hear the word "palm" you instantly think of a sunny, balmy climate, it's one of the most resilient indoor plants there is. It grows slowly, and it might grow even slower if put in a corner away from the window, but it'll survive. The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world(says Wiki) and can be seen in many eye-catching pictures of stunning interiors. It truly brings out the best in a space, purifies the air and your cats will love it. The bigger the plant, the harder it is for the cats to kill. Almost all of mine are alive(well, one got knocked down to our bunnies' pen and well, you can guess the rest. May it rest in peace) and I've been buying them like crazy in all sizes. The smaller ones get more cats' attention, but they eat only the tips of the leaves, everything else is intact.

 

Bamboo Palm /Areca palm

 

Similar to Parlor Palm. It's another statement plant that doesn't need too much maintenance. If you have space, even a shady dark corner, put it in. It'll brighten up the room.

 

Prayer plant

 

These plants are lush additions to your decor, with striped multicolored leaves that fold together at night, like a pair of praying hands, hence it's name. They need low light and there are about 40 various species to choose from, one more striking than the other. One thing they love is humidity, so keep the soil moist.

 

Most of my cats don't show any interest for it, which is great because it would be a real shame to lose those pretty pink patterns that look super stylish.

 

My personal favorites are Rattlesnake Calathea(Goeppertia insignis) and Pinstripe Calathea (Calathea ornata).

 

 

 

Ferns (Ball, Bird's Nest, Blood Sword, Christmas, Duffi, Dwarf Feather, Maidenhair, Rabbit's Foot, Staghorn and Verona are all safe for cats)

 

Ferns are almost perfect indoor plants. Boston Fern is probably the most common one. Some are trickier to keep up, require low to bright indirect light. Some like real humidity and moist soil but can put up with odd dry spells. They offer an abundance of greenery and are ideal bathroom plants.

 

I prefer putting them in hanging planters and I try to mist them daily(try is the keyword here). Because of the cascading abundant greenery, they're ideal to put up on the shelves, and some species (that in nature grow on rocks and trees) can be hanged in vertical planters on the walls. They look great between my cat shelves and under hanging bridges, and cats generally don't eat them too much, but then again, our cats have cat grass available at all times(apparently it's the yummiest).

 

Cast Iron Plant/Bar Room Plant

 

Its name points to how much neglect it can handle, so basically it's a perfect house plant for cat owners. It requires very little attention and can withstand drought, pest and poor light.

 

Superhero strength plant, or the nearest thing to an indestructible house plant.

 

This is the one I'm going to buy next and write an update if it survives our home and neglect.

 

Peperomia Green / American Rubber Plant(Peperomia Obtusifolia) and Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)

 

Both very decorative with waxy, fleshy, leathery leaves. Peperomia Green can grow pretty big in the right conditions, while Watermelon Peperomia tends to be small.

 

They're popular houseplants that look best as desktop plants and remove toxins from the air.

 

I love the Watermelon one, and my cats don't touch it. They generally don't chew on waxy, fleshy plants.

 

Succulents(most are safe but avoid aloe, jade and pencil cactus)

 

Easy to care for and you can stick them anywhere you like. Most like indirect light at low humidity. They're trendy now.

 

 

 

Humidifier-as most of the plants named here really like humidity, I would suggest buying a humidifier. It's not only great for the plants, but works wonders for cats too, and your skin and nose will be thankful too. Humidifiers are great for feline asthma and URIs, as they help with congestion and keep their airways moist. I'll be writing a longer post about the benefits of humidifiers, but need to get all of my info ready.

 

If you're uncertain if some plants are safe for cats or not, you now have plenty of apps available to download on your phone that will help identify the plant, based on a picture or two. If an app gives you the name of the plant, try an additional google search just to be safe. I trust ASPCAs list of pet-safe plants, as I've found a couple of articles that list toxic plants as safe. Always double check!

 

I've been researching pet-friendly plants for years now, and generally know what I'm looking for, but once I'm at greenery, I'll be the one double-checking every single plant on google, just to be safe. We've got free-roaming bunnies in our home too, and those guys will eat everything, so I'm going to check everything before it enters our home.

 

 

 

I'm going to update this list as I add more plants to our home. I know I'm missing a few flowery ones, but I'm more for the leafy greens than the flowers. And I guess my pets would chew at every single flower, just to prove to me that they are the real stars in our home. Nothing can be more beautiful and cared for than them (that's part of the reason we can't have some of the nice stuff, but try to produce our own almost indestructible stuff).

 

 

 

I've always been the one looking at other people's homes full of plants, wondering what I was doing wrong, even before having this many pets at home. Now I've got a certain balance, some plants can withstand the suffering my cats and I put them through. If they can't, well it wasn't meant to be. I've killed so many plants that all I can do is fill my home with as much greenery as I possibly can and I'll always have enough of the plants looking alive and healthy :D Sometimes you gotta beat the system.

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