Growing Herbs for Cats
In case you missed it, we welcomed two little kittens into our homesteading family this past summer. They instantly became part of the family and entertain us daily with their unique quirks and attitudes. We have two tabbies, one a tuxedo tabby, and the other a tortoiseshell tabby. Of course, being the weird people that we are, we had to look up what exactly a "torbie" was after adopting our Hazelnut, who was labeled as such. Apparently they are a good luck charm! Tortoiseshell tabbies are fairly rare to find, all female, and are thought to have distinctive attitudes, though this is not scientifically proven. I was most excited to learn that in Irish and Scottish folklore, finding a torbie that attaches itself to you is very good luck indeed and bring good fortune into the home. That's all I needed to know! Poppyseed is our tuxedo cat, who we also call Ruby Sue because she's a bit crosseyed. She follows Tad around like a lost puppy!
I knew instantly that welcoming our feline friends into the home meant also that I could introduce some indoor growing herbs as well! Can you picture me rubbing my hands together in glee? Actually one of the major things we wanted to look into before bringing the two cats home was which plants and flowers were toxic to them. You see, we had a cat once before, while I was growing up and she loved to eat any flowers we brought home and placed in a vase. She always ate all of my roses I received after a dance recital! These two don't seem that much interested in eating flowers or succulents (phew!) but here's a quick list of which plants your cats should not eat:
- Aloe Vera
- True Lilies
- Tulip and Narcissus bulbs
- Spanish Thyme
- Jade Plant
Don't let this scare you! There are quite a few plants that cats can eat in the home safely, though don't expect them to show a ton of interest. Cats eat a primarily meat diet (hopefully) and will only eat plants when it interests them. Providing your cat with herbs around the home specifically for them can be a great way to provide them with better digestion, less hairballs, and can help keep them away from your other plants that don't want to be chewed on! Here are some herbs and plants you can grow for your cats to nibble on:
Cat Grass. Cats eat grass! It can aid in many areas of a cat's health such as inducing vomiting when they've eaten something bad, acts as a dietary substitute and is filled with B vitamins, and can even help them more easily cough up hairballs. In fact, feeding them cat grass may help prevent the build up of hairballs all together. Yay! I honestly think that can be the worst part about having a cat. Growing up, my first cat would always choose to cough up a hairball at 3 AM in my bedroom... why?
Catnip. We all know this one really well. It makes cats go crazy, but it all acts a great tool for calming stress and nervousness. Our Torbie, Hazelnut, can get into moods where she wants to hide and scurry off. I noticed after letting her around the catnip now and then, she becomes a lot more relaxed around us and playful. Apparently a catnip bath can help a kitten with itchy skin? I mean, you can try that, but good luck! Ha!
Valerian. A good stimulant for cats, this herb is extremely attractive to them and helps to invigorate their desire to play. It also works well as an immune system booster.
Dill. Does your kitty have gas? It's the worst! Dill is a natural antispasmodic that helps keep down bloating and calms the stomach. It works the same for humans! You can give some fresh dill to your cat to help them with their stomach issues.
Mint. A natural pest repellent and skin soother, mint is a great herb for cats to try! Most often peppermint or spearmint are recommended, though peppermint can often be strong as it has the highest volume of menthol compared to other mint varieties.
Bean sprouts. Remember my post on growing sprouts for chickens? You can also grow sprouts for your cats! In small amounts, they are harmless, and can be a great way to add some green roughage into their diet. Be sure to only let them get to the sprouting stage and not to let them grow into fodder. Sprouts are well known for carrying bacteria, so play it safe!
Edible Flowers. Yep! There are apparently flowers that your cats can eat, which are very similar to the ones that we can eat as well. Roses, zinnias, Gerbera daisies, nasturtiums, sunflowers, snapdragons, and cosmos!
How to Plant Herbs Indoors
What You'll Need |
- Pots or a container like this one that I was gifted from Freckled Hen Farmhouse! You just want something that can easily drain after being watered. This container probably was not meant for growing anything in it, so I added some small rock to the bottom to allow better drainage and carefully water.
- Potting soil (preferably organic if you can!)
- Seeds (I buy my seeds through Botanical Interests. They have a wonderful selection of organic seeds and all of their packets are non-GMO!)
- Prepare your container. If you are using a regular clay pot, then fill your pot until about a 1/2 inch of space is left. If you are using a container without a drainage hole like mine, I suggest filling the bottom with some small pebbles to help with drainage. You don't want to let your plants' roots soak.
- Read your seed packets and plant accordingly. Larger seeds need to be buried deeper than smaller seeds. If you like, you can mix some organic matter into your potting mix like worm castings or compost. This will help immensely!
- Water thoroughly. When starting seedlings, you want to keep them moist but not soaked until they sprout. After they've sprouted and begin making some progress, only water when the topsoil and about a half inch to an inch of soil below is dry.
- Place in a sunny window, preferably a south facing one, and let those seeds grow! It's really not that difficult, and you can't fail with cat grass. It grows so quickly! I actually left these herbs in the window and completely forgot about them... oops! They really just keep holding on with minimal watering.
- For the cat grass, you'll have to keep replanting as your kitty eats it up.
There you have it! A wonderful little gift to give your fur baby and to keep your green thumb in tact through the winter. Be creative and grow them something tasty. Also, I just like having the safe knowledge that if they perhaps did get into my summer bouquets of flowers, they would be okay. It's always a funny little surprise when you come downstairs in the morning to find your vase of blooms dismantled. I hope your kitties enjoy their green treats!