Gardening With Cats: Social Distancing At Home In The Garden

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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