5 Cat-Friendly Shrubs (These Are Non-Poisonous)

5 Cat-Friendly Shrubs (These Are Non-Poisonous) - Green Garden Tribe

Your cat’s taste for shrubs in your garden can not only damage your plants, but it could also lead them to a costly visit to the vet when they eat something toxic. To keep cats safe, you must plant only cat-friendly shrubs.

Many things can enhance your life, and one of them is having a cat and plants in your garden.

You can create a happy co-existence between your cat and plants by ensuring that your plants are cat-friendly.

It is common for cats to chew plants, although the reasons for doing so are not always clear. It may be to calm their upset stomach or satisfy a nutritional deficiency. Some cats just like to chew plants while they are playing.

Whatever reasons your cat may have, choosing cat-friendly shrubs or shrubs that are non-toxic will prevent them from getting sick.

Even safe plants can sometimes cause some minor discomfort if ingested by your cat. Effects, though, are often temporary and nothing to worry about.

Suppose your cat is showing some interest in your plants. You can keep them away for their safety and to keep your plants from having unsightly damage.

5 Cat-Friendly Shrubs

Scrubs in your garden can make your cat comfortable. However, not all scrubs are safe for cats, especially that they tend to eat them. Here are some cat-friendly shrubs you can have in your garden.

1. Autumn Olive

Autumn Olives (Elaeagnus umbellata), also known as Russian Olives and Silver Berry, belong to the Elaeagnaceae family. This deciduous shrub is usually planted near ridges and roads to control erosion.

They have now become commonly planted shrubs in gardens. They have elliptically shaped leaves and grow pale yellow and bell-shaped flowers in early spring. They also produce red berries.

Autumn Olives can grow to as tall as 20 feet and as wide as 30 feet.  They are cat-friendly shrubs and are also non-toxic plants for dogs.

2. Bottlebrush

Bottlebrush (Callistemon species), also known as Weeping Bottlebrush. Crimson Bottlebrush or Prickly Bottlebrush belongs to the Myrtaceae family.

The Bottlebrush plants are attractive shrubs that grow pink, yellow, or cream brush-like flowers. Their blooms show up in spring and summer. They are easy to care for and maintain. Birds that feed on nectar and bees love hovering around Bottlebrush shrubs.

Bottlebrush shrubs are cat-friendly shrubs and are also safe for dogs.

3. Chenille Plant

Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida), also commonly known as Foxtail, Red-hot Cat Tail, or Philippine Medusa, belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family.  This plant grows exotic flowers that look similar to strands of chenille yarn.

This tropical shrub originated from the South Pacific (the Malay Archipelago and New Guinea). This shrub can grow to as wide as 8 feet and as tall as 15 feet in suitable climates (hardy to Zone 10). It can also be grown in containers but will grow much smaller.

Chenille shrubs grow bright green and large heart-shaped leaves. They grow arching to branched upright stems.

They love the humid and hot climates of summer, and in tropical areas, they can become large shrubs. Continuous pruning can manage their size.

Chenille plants are non-toxic shrubs for cats and dogs.

4. Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium), also known as Oregon Grape Holly, Mountain Grape Holly-Leaved Berry, or Mahonia Aquifolium is a broad-leaf shrub that thrives in shady spots.

This shrub grows burgundy and green foliage, yellow blooms, and purple-blue fruits.

The Oregon Grape shrubs can grow to be 5 feet wide and 10 feet tall. Its fruits look like grapes in color and shape and are edible, too, and can be made into jellies, jams, and preserves.

This shrub has evergreen leaves that are sharply toothed. They grow cheery yellow flowers in clusters in April and May.  They are ideal as privacy screens.

The Oregon Grape is a cat-friendly shrub and is also safe for dogs.

5. Crapemyrtle

The Crapemyrtle (Crape Myrtle is a deciduous shrub that can be grown as a shrub or a tree.

It grows wrinkled-pedaled flowers (like crepe paper) and wide panicles in many pink shades from late spring through fall. Its dark green foliage changes to shades of red.  Orange and yellow in the fall.

This shrub has gray and thin bark that exfoliates to expose a smooth under-bark in colors ranging from gray to brown. Pinching new growth during its growing season can increase the number of flowers and branches.

This shrub grows in a vase-like shape and thrives well in sunny and hot climates. It also grows well, even in soil with limited space.

The Crapemyrtle shrub is non-toxic and safe for cats.

Reasons to Create a Cat-Friendly Garden

Most cats love the outdoors as much as the indoors. You, therefore, need to make your garden cat-friendly to provide them with an enriching, enjoyable, and safe outdoor environment.

A cat-friendly garden will provide your cat with many benefits:

Keep your cat from wandering out of your home, which could pose many dangers and hazards.
Keep your cat from being frustrated and bored.
Keep your cat less stressed and more relaxed.
In a multi-cat household, your cats will be able to get along better and have less conflict.
Your cat will be more independent and will be less demanding of your time.
More time outdoors will make your cat more fit and active.
Providing an enriching and safe outdoor environment for your cat will also make him feel more secure and safe.

Making your Garden Cat-Friendly

A cat-friendly garden’s main idea is to provide your cat with everything they need to have an enriching and enjoyable outdoor environment.

Your garden should, therefore, include these resources:

Sources of fresh drinking water.

Your cat should be drinking enough fresh water. Your garden should, therefore, have a faucet for tap water. A water butt, large dish, or any container to collect rainwater will also be a good option.

Providing many water sources in your garden will also reduce conflict if you have more than one cat.


Many cats enjoy being out in the garden, even if it is raining or cold outside. They will appreciate some shelter in your garden to keep them warm and dry.

You can build a “cat house” or place an old wooden box to provide a perfect shelter for your cat.

A substrate your cat can use as a toilet.

You should provide an area in your garden with sand, woodchips, or loose sand for your cat to poop. When given an opportunity, cats are clean animals. They prefer to have a suitable and safe latrine in the garden to use as a bathroom.

This area should not be near their sources of water and food. It should give your cat a little privacy, too. A good area for a latrine is one surrounded by a few shrubs and plants.

A high place that can serve as a look-out point.

Cats feel safe when they are up high so they can have a good lookout point to check for any imminent danger. They also want to have an idea of an escape. High places are also safe places where cats can relax on sunny days.

Ideal high places could be ledges, shelves, benches, and tables.

Comfortable spots to rest.

Cats love nice spots where they can sleep or rest in the garden. A nice spot could be a cat house with an old throw pillow and some blankets.

An area to scratch on.

Cats love scratching surfaces. This action keeps their claws in top shape. They also scratch to make other cats feel their presence or to make them feel safe. Cats scratch either visually (by leaving behind scratch marks) or through their scent (by leaving gland deposits).

Cats scratch on horizontal and vertical surfaces. A good scratching spot for your cat can either be a large branch or an old tree stump. Aside from being a scratching post, they can also be used by your cat as a resting place or for perching.

Provide your cat a safe haven.

A good hiding place in the garden can make your cat comfortable. If your garden is too open or bare, your cat will feel too exposed. They will feel frightened and uncomfortable that they do not have a safe hiding place when they see an unfamiliar cat or other animal entering their territory.

You can create a safe hiding place for your car by planting dense shrubs and foliage. These plants should have patchy parts so your cat can access his “hiding place.”

Make sure to plant only non-toxic or cat-friendly shrubs.

Final Thoughts

All cats love the outdoors, and it is common for them to enjoy running around and exploring your garden. They also love to sleep and relax in the garden.

It is always a wise idea to have cat-friendly gardens to keep your cat happy, contented, and safe.

Planting cat-friendly shrubs in your garden will make your cat happy and give you the peace of mind that nothing in your garden can cause harm to your cat.  These shrubs can also enhance the curb appeal of your home. Some of them can also be privacy screens.

Jenny M
Tribal Writer

Edited by
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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