Gardening With Cats: Social Distancing At Home In The Garden

By Bonnie Grant | April 8, 2020
Image by Bonnie Grant
by Bonnie Grant
April 8, 2020

We are all stuck social distancing at home amid the virus outbreak, and things can get boring. The good news is that spring arrived early in the Northern Hemisphere this year (2020), an unusual occurrence that has something to do with leap years and the Earth’s orbit. I’ll leave that for more scientific minds, as I am currently consumed by gardening, with cats.

The temperatures are rising and it is time to get veggie beds ready, prune some plants, and feed others, while keeping in check the dreaded weeds. I may not be able to socialize with neighbors, family, and friends in person, but I am not lonely. As I go about my early season tasks, I have the constant companionship of my cats, which can be interesting to say the least.

Quarantine Gardening with Cats

Cats aren’t for everyone. In fact, some people profess to hate the furry, complexly tempered creatures. I am not one of those and am, in fact, endlessly charmed by their personalities and antics. Just like me, as soon as temperatures begin to warm up, they want OUT.

They are allowed to wander as long as they stay close to me and must come inside when I do. Safety first. The first thing they want to do is pretty obvious. Any freshly turned soil will become a litter box. While this may gross some out, I wear gloves and ignore those little nuggets as just part of nature.

Their next task is to assault the newly budding catnip patch. I transplanted a division from my old house, but it isn’t taking well, so have put in some seedlings to expand the site. This was a bad idea because my little darlings laid on the seedlings, rubbed, and nibbled and all but destroyed the new plants.

Not to be outsmarted by these moggies, I erected a little fence around the area. They now rub and mewl about the structure but have not yet gotten in, and the seedlings are finally growing. Once established and big enough, the plants can go to flower for the bees and the cats can cavort all they want. Near the end of the season we cut and dry stems, and then freeze the leaves for winter time indoor fun.

Crawling on my hands and knees, scratching in fertilizer, weeding, and investigating my worm population, I am the Pied Piper of cats in the garden. Each follows me with a reverence that should be reserved for Buddha or some other holy entity. Head bumps and rubbing are standard ops. Tying up newly sprung vines is a challenge all itself, as the twine is suddenly a toy and eager paws sneak out to capture every strand.

I do not need an iPod to entertain me, as my feline companions keep up a fairly constant string of conversation, although they seem to know when to enjoy the peace and quiet too. They bask in the sun, giving moral support to my gardening efforts in the most benign way possible. 

Each has a gardening specialty. The tiger loves weeding, which is more than I can say for myself. The tortoiseshell is a fan of anything that has to do with long material, such as cutting back the pampas grass. Each blade is a veritable amusement park. My big orange long-haired cat is so mellow she could take on Jerry Garcia and is the prime source of the troubles in the catnip patch.

Each of my cats is a delightful partner and escort as we get our gardens ready for the growing season. Isolation and distancing aren’t part of my vocabulary when it comes to my ‘puddy tats.’ Between these family members and my garden, I have all the positive mental health I need while social distancing at home.

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