If you aren’t a cat lover, you may get frustrated when neighborhood cats come roaming into your yard, enter your garden like they own it, and use your vegetable patch and/or flowerbeds as their own personal litter boxes.
Having cat feces in your garden is not only annoying and unsightly, but also unpleasant and potentially harmful, as the feces can contain dangerous parasites and bacteria. It’s not just smelly and gross… it’s something you need to stop.
But HOW do you keep cats out of your garden? How can you train them to leave your garden alone? It’s not easy. Let’s take a look today at some tried, true, and unique ideas for getting Felix to stop using your garden as his litter box, your shrubs as scratching posts, and your vegetable patches as sunbathing destinations.
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Scatter “Offensive” Scents Around Your Garden
There are some scents that cats really don’t like and will avoid. For some, an easy solution has been to scatter or dust your garden (or even just the soil beneath your grown plants) with heavily scented items that cats don’t like. No guarantees that they all work the same for all cats, but here are some relatively cheap household items that you can scatter or spray that will help to keep cats out of your garden:
- Coffee grinds
- Cayenne pepper (black pepper will also do, but cayenne is a far stronger and thus more effective scent)
- Citrus peels (grated, sliced, large or small. Cats dislike citrus scent, so citronella spray also works)
- Vinegar spray (50:50 water to vinegar solution)
- Anise oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea leaves
- A mixture of two parts cayenne pepper, three parts dry mustard, and five parts flour. (It’s a supposedly magical solution!)
And here’s one more rather strange idea that may have some merit. I haven’t tested it, but feel free, if you want to: You can also add some lion dung (you can purchase lion manure) to your garden soil. The theory is that the lion is an alpha predator and is scary to the cat. Cats won’t risk visiting in case they bump into him.
Adjust the Garden Soil Texture
Cats have delicate paws, and as such, they prefer soft soil. Perhaps that’s one reason cats are drawn to your beautifully turned garden soil… it feels great! Can you do something about that? You can make your garden less inviting to the neighbourhood cat community if you change the texture of the soil. How?
- Add prickly yard trimmings or push pine cones pushed into the soil
- Scatter twigs or small pine branches
- Lay down some chicken wire over the bed where they tend to walk
- Add some rough textured mulch
- Strategically place some pebbles and stones in your garden bed (don’t lay them down smoothly)
- Insert plant stakes, chopsticks, or similar materials every eight or so inches in the soil
Add Plants To Your Garden That Cats Dislike
Yes, cats do prefer some plants to others… one of the tricks to getting cats to stay OUT of your garden is to figure out which plants cats DON’T like, and then interplant them among your own greenery.
You could try roses or other prickly plants, but there are plenty of plants that cats commonly dislike that you can chose from (see here for a nice collection of cat-deterrent plant ideas). This may not stop them from roaming altogether, but they will quickly move on rather than poop in your flowers or lounge in your vegetables.
Cats Hate Water!
Since cats generally REALLY don’t like getting wet, use that to your advantage. Make them realise that if they go in your garden, they will get wet! How can you do this?
Stand On Guard
During the day, have your hose or lawn sprinkler system on stand-by, and be ready to pounce! Or, set your kids on a Cat Watch with instructions to soak it with water from their water guns! A few days of diligence and perhaps they’ll take the hint.
If you can’t be there 24 hours a day (and who can), you may be better off getting an automated, motion activated lawn sprinkler! Motion-activated sprinklers are available from most home supply stores. When a cat walks by, the motion triggers the sprinkler, which sprays a burst of water. This can be QUITE the effective deterrent for cats, or other animal invaders. Use motion-activated sprinklers to create a border around your yard, or just focus on areas of it where you want to keep cat-free. You can have these installed temporarily or permanently – it just depends on your preference and needs.
Add some wind!
This one could be fun. It won’t hurt the cat either. Stand at a ready with your battery powered leaf blower (or gas powered leaf blower) if that’s what you have. When you see that crazy cat, give it some air scare… and the noise of course won’t be welcome either. Do it a few times and it’ll be running off as soon as it sees you coming. (Yes, seeing you coming doesn’t solve the problem all the time. But blowing some serious air at an annoying cat would be kind of fun, I’d think.)
Let’s Get Serious. This Cat Is NOT Leaving!!
Go High Tech:
If that cat is not leaving, no matter what you’ve tried, you might want to look into an ultrasonic pest repeller. There are many different types and styles of solar powered or electronic waterproof pest repellers (scare away cats, dogs, squirrels, raccoons, etc). They all work basically the same way… they use a motion activated sensor that emits a mixture of ultrasonic, sonic and powerful flashing LED strobe lights that frighten the pests/animals into leaving the area. And as Kitty is likely your neighbor’s pride and joy, you’ll be happy to know they are safe and humane.
Go Extreme… Use A Low-Voltage Wire
Absolutely fed up with that cat? An electric fence can effectively keep cats out of your yard, or specific areas. As long as it is low-voltage, it won’t harm that cat, but only drive them away. You just have to put the fence about about 4 inches from the ground and it should work… it will discourage them from using your yard as a litter box. You can find electric fencing at hardware or home supply stores. (A personal note… please don’t do this option if you have young children who play near by.)