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cats in the garden

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Initial post: Sep 28, 2010 6:30:00 AM PDT
Mary Billek says:
hello. does anybody have suggestions on how to stop neighborhood cats from using my mulched garden beds as their litterbox? its frustrating to file my flowers dug up and piles in my mulch. i do not want to hurt the cats i just do not want them to poo and pee in my flowers!! please help! any suggestions would be appreciated, but like i said i do not want to harm the cats.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 2:25:30 PM PDT
autopoiesis says:
Can't remember where I heard this, but apparently lion manure keeps them away.

No, this is not a joke - and it makes sense when considered.

So, if there's a zoo nearby with large felines, drop by and see if they'll let you take a a bucketful. Mix (dilute) with compost and spread around the edges and - so I heard - cats won't come near.

1. If you have a cat yourself, it might not dare venture outside
2. There might be laws against it (I have no idea)

Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 4:40:19 PM PDT
Mary Billek says:
while that is a very interesting suggestion, i was more looking for an easier solution or home remedy. although, it is a good plan to fall back on if i can not find a simpler solution. i appreciate the idea though. i will have to research the legality of it... and the rationality!

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 5:48:13 PM PDT
Mark Stanley says:
Wow, I love that idea about lion manure, it makes sense, but its really not very practical. I just wrote a book about making compost tea. Making compost tea is like making beer or wine--where you are multiplying the number of microbes in the brew by the billions--hopefully beneficial ones. Cat feces can be quite dangerous for us because they can contain a protozoa that harbors a human disease called toxoplasmosis. I am a cat person and a gardener. Their habits in these regards can be very annoying. But now I know to be very careful about allowing them to have their way in my vegetable garden.Compost Tea Making: For Organic Healthier Vegetables, Flowers, Orchards, Vineyards, Lawns (Volume 1)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2010 5:52:12 PM PDT
Mary Billek says:
so how do you keep the cats from your vegetable garden?

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 7:37:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2010 7:38:15 AM PDT
Mark Stanley says:
Hi Mary
I put something [like wire fencing] on the ground when the plants are young.. before they have dominated the surface enough to keep the cats out. It only works with some plants. Eventually I will build a 7 ft. fence around the garden and orchard to keep out all animals.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 8:38:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2010 9:03:50 AM PDT
Mantis says:
1. Do not use pine bark mulch. Cats love it. Change to a less attractive smelling mulch.

2. Buy or rent a raccoon cage trap. Bait it with sardines. Transport cat out of neighborhood. Very effective with stubborn nuisance cats.
Havahart 1089 Collapsible One-Door 32-by-10-by-12-inch Cage Trap for Raccoons, Stray Cats, and Woodchucks

3. Own a dog. This is an expensive long term solution. Be sure that there is a fence to control the dog (dogs love to dig up and trample plants). It is easier to fence in a dog than a cat plus you get a home security burglar alarm.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 10:16:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2010 10:18:29 AM PDT
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Posted on Sep 29, 2010 10:38:22 AM PDT
Mary Billek says:
well in response to every1... i do not use pine mulch, i do use cypress (not sure how well that smells) but one small area also has hardwood mulch and the cats like both. these cats are stray kittens that we feed outside and 2 catch them i culd just walk up the them (or them walk up to me) and grab them, however; getting rid of the cats is not the solution i am looking for. i do not mind the cats out there they kill mice. i do use those traps to catch nuisence racoons though. the cats did get stuck in there accidentally and the sound was awful. anyway i am mainly looking for a simple solution to actually DISCOURAGE the cats from using the mulch as litterbox. i have used pepper and that just stops them from covering their poop but not actually from the act of pooping. i havnt tried the citrus oil yet but that sounds more like the solution i was looking for. i will try that though, hopefully that will work. pinecones sound like good idea too. the pinecones might actually look like a decoration (considering that i have a quorky style of decorating). i appreciate all the ideas though. still looking for the one that just jumps out at me like an obvious sure-fire solution, but i have several feasible options!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2010 12:40:31 PM PDT
Sonja says:
If you do trap the cat, please take it to a shelter or call your local government animal control person to take it away. Just transporting the cat elsewhere only makes it someone else's problem. Havaheart traps work well.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2010 2:47:24 PM PDT
I've heard this is also an effective rabbit deterrent...who knows?

Posted on Sep 30, 2010 6:02:13 PM PDT
Mary Billek says:
what is effective rabbit deterant? i use havaheart traps for racoons but i do not want to trap the cats... they are kind of like our outdoor cats. we have been feeding them since kittens and the kids are attached

Posted on Oct 1, 2010 7:00:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2010 6:54:04 AM PDT
Mantis says:
Dear Mary,
If you really love these cats, when they are old enough, please take them to the vet and have them neutered. Then they cannot produce more unwanted kittens. The nuisance male cat that I trapped (quickly within 24 hours) was spraying my garden, my house, my front porch area despite using professional scent deterrents, never feeding it, etc. When he also chose to spray Federal property (community mailbox), I called animal control to transport him out. Cat Gone Bad, you are going to jail!

Havahart 1089 Collapsible One-Door 32-by-10-by-12-inch Cage Trap for Raccoons, Stray Cats, and Woodchucks

Animal control is reluctant to come out unless the animal is constrained. They don't have time to hunt them down and capture them.

*Another option is to make your kittens permanent indoor cats with litter boxes. It takes more than food to be a responsible pet owner. Vaccinations and training also figure into the equation. Otherwise, you are putting your own children at risk for any diseases the stray cats may carry.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2010 11:03:42 AM PDT
D. Ewing says:
Hi there. I have had success with cayenne pepper. I bought some of the large containers at Costco and sprinkled in my flower beds. They still went in the beds right after I added the cayenne, but quickly stopped. Hope this helps!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2010 9:45:44 AM PDT
I have had trouble with not only cats, but squirrels and raccoons in my veggie garden. I mean serious, can't keep them away from the corn, quit going there water fights. Didn't work. The minute my back was turned, they were all back at it. Then I discovered a motion detector sprinkler! End of all the trouble. I heard it go off three times in the middle of the night when the corn was ready. I just cackled. I walked out one morning and was being seriously told off by the local pain in the A-- squirrel. My old cat won't go near the garden now. And the neighborhood cats hate the thing. Worth every penny to me. Take care and good luck, Trisha

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2010 10:14:07 AM PDT
D. Smith says:
I don't know how much ground you need to cover but I use a black cloth weed barrier in my vegetable/flower garden between rows. My cats never touched my garden after that. And it was GREAT for not having to weed. I don't have the name memorized but can get it. You can look online for different brands. Good Luck!

Posted on Oct 3, 2010 5:13:09 PM PDT
Mary Billek says:
so you used the 'weed block' on top of the mulch? i hadn't heard of that

Posted on Oct 4, 2010 3:38:04 PM PDT
Cayenne pepper or cinnamon will help--best thing is to go and get some pine mulch for another area (like under a bush or tree where it isn't as big a deal if they dig and use as a litter box). You can use sawdust or pine shavings too.

We own cats and when I first plant my veggie garden, Junior thinks it is great to dig and play -- he doesn't even use it as a litter box, but rather thinks he is a dog and he digs around with great abandon.

When he was a kitten (he and mom were feral--we trapped and fixed) he did use the garden as a litter box. I emptied a bag of pine pellets where he could use them. Solved the litter problem. Once the garden was "settled" he stopped digging in there even for fun!


Posted on Oct 5, 2010 7:11:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2010 7:13:32 AM PDT
Mantis says:
Dear Maria S.,
Please consider duplicating your above post (Oct. 4th) in the Cats Community where there is a duplicate thread. Your suggestion is insightful.

Posted on Oct 5, 2010 3:01:55 PM PDT
Sure. I'll try to find that thread...


Posted on Oct 5, 2010 6:01:10 PM PDT
Mary Billek says:
i check both postings of this topic to get insight from gardeners and cat people. i have had helpful suggestions but yet to have desired result. when i used pepper the cats still went potty in the mulch but decided not to cover it up. honestly there is not much left to teh garden and in order to replant the plants that they dug up i would have to dig through their... messes and i have yet to get motivated enough to put in the effort for them to continue ruining it. i havnt found the citrus oil yet so i am still searching for that in my hometown. i also am tryin to find a bunch of pine cones (another suggestion) but i havnt yet tried cinnamon which might produce a different result than the pepper. i do appreciate all of the suggestions though!!!!

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 7:10:00 AM PDT
Hi Mary,

I really think the thing that worked was giving him a litter pile of his own. The pepper spray, citrus oils and cinnamon are mostly to keep bugs away (be careful with the citrus--it will burn the flowers). Home Depot here carries the citrus oil although I think it's in a special gardening area with other organic bug sprays.

Both my cats play with pine cones and bark. Toss them up in the air and nab them!

I'm a little surprised they actually dug up the plants. Junior only did that once or twice with very small plants and then it was obvious he was digging for fun (no potty messes.) I think you'll find as they get older the digging is less of a problem. They will also tend to find potty spots further from play areas. Both our cats now actually leave the yard to potty unless it is cold. Even when they do use the yard, it's generally at the back. Since they now hang around the yard, I guess they don't want it to smell either!

Given time, I think it'll all work out!

Good luck,

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 9:32:49 AM PDT
Mary Billek says:
i considered an outdoor litter but we already have to change an indoor one and litter is the main thing i dislike about cats. (sorry i am more of a dog person my husband loves the cats) they have been using my mulch so long for a bathroom i am not sure if they would even use one outside (and if i use bedding or mulch instead of the clay how would they differentiate between my flower beds and their potty spot) i have planted and replanted my beds. my latest attempt was sum small dianthus plants. the plants are now in about 4 different mounds from them poo-ing and covering it up. since the plants were small and not so deep it wasnt much trouble to dig up i am sure. they dont seem to play in the mulch (digging) it seems like just dig when covering up their 'presents'. the most i see them play is with each other or with bugs or with leaves. im close to giving up because plainting close to 40 little dianthus plants individualy was a task. probably spent a couple hours out there and then i put pepper hoping to stop them from continuing their rampage. truth is i think the wind or when i water plants just eliminated the pepper rendering it usless and i am once again defeated. we are going to get them fixed soon (they are 2 boys kittens) maybe they will have less of a marking tendency after that but until then i think i will just acquiesce. maybe i will try planting again in the spring

Posted on Oct 6, 2010 11:00:07 AM PDT
I think that where you are putting plants is the easiest for them to dig up.

I didn't mean put an actual litter box outside--just put a pile of easy to dig in pine shavings. If you buy pine pellets (from petsmart used for litterboxes) they will actually just disintegrate--you won't need to be "cleaning" the litterbox at all. You can gradually move them away from the mulch.

Yes, once they have declared an area a bathroom, it is hard to get them to change. They have now determined that is where they go so the best thing you can do is (probably) to move them away from that area. It was probably easier for me--we have a large yard. I used the pine pellets and just moved little Junior's habit away from my garden until he determined it was better to go outside the yard. It didn't take long. Cats love piles of lose things--you could even pile up leaves under a tree and they would likely migrate to it. A good rain will start to get rid of anything in the garden and once they are out of the habit of using it, you should be fine. Avoid mulching it for a while though. Any fresh mulch is either playtime--or in the case of a spot already picked for bathroom, well...

Good luck. Cats really can be trained to go in a certain area. Especially when they are that young.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2010 2:23:38 PM PDT
there is something that you can buy that has stick like things poking up out of it so the cats wont want to walk on it. I haven't used it so I don't know how effective it is. Something I have found effective for protecting potted plants is putting sticks in them (or dowels). Something you might also consider is planting some catnip somewhere away from your garden or if you have a place way out of the way you can just put a sandbox full of dirt or sand or just a pile of dirt or sand. The cats will be very attracted to it and will most likely make it there pooping and peeing spot (I have four cats and they cannot resist a pile of dirt). Good luck. I know it can be frustrating.
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Discussion in:  Gardening forum
Participants:  152
Total posts:  223
Initial post:  Sep 28, 2010
Latest post:  Sep 3, 2014

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