I have a garden pest: CATS!

annewaldron(SoCal,10)January 25, 2006

Several neighborhood cats have decided that MY flower bed is their litter box! Only the hardiest and most well-established plants have survived- some have even been unearthed by the cats' digging. I have several containers of vinegar scattered about- I'd heard the smell was a deterrent, but just this morning, I watched a cat approach, sniff, disregard, dig, and pee!


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I had the same problem. Went to Home Depot and bought some sprinkles that claim to deter cats but that didnt help. Finally I decided to confront the cat owner and he claimed it was a stray cat and its not his problem. I got mad so I captured the cat and send him to the pound. It sounds bad but I had no choice. Either my garden or the cat.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 2:53PM
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Ha- well, unfortunately the cat owner is my dog walker, so I can't risk damaging the relationship. Also, there is definitely more than one cat coming around, so I have to figure something out! A wire fence? I don't know...

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 3:46PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Havahart makes a granular product called Critter Ridder thats pretty effective; WalMart carried it last year.

I see Havahart is also selling a motion activated sprayer that looks very much like the Scarecrow by Contech that I have (not sure how they compare price wise) -- the Scarecrow is very effective and should work well for you in your climate. (It has to be connected to a garden hose, so not a freezing weather option)

Another option is to cut (wire cutters)lengths of chicken wire and lay those in between your plants, usually where cats can't scratch in soil, they don't go. It's not altogether attractive, and does not stop a spraying cat though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Havahart

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 4:08PM
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I just ordered some Critter Ridder from a site that has a great sale on the stuff- thanks!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 7:26PM
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I had problems with cats using the mulch by my livingroom windows as their litterbox. My neighbor suggested that I sprinkle cayenne pepper on my mulch. I sprinkled it until my mulch was red. It took a few days, but I didn't have anymore problems with the cats or the neighbor's dog for that matter. One sniff and they decided to go elsewhere. The downside is you have to reapply after it rains but I usually buy my cayenne pepper at the discount store.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 9:08PM
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Just don't use mothballs, a frequently-suggested "solution" when this problem comes up. They're very toxic.

There's a long list of solutions in another thread -- see 4 or 5 posts down in the link below. Different people have different degrees of success with the various methods so you may have to experiment if you want to try some of them. I ended up putting chicken wire down (just under mulch) but other, simpler methods may work for you.

The motion-activated sprayers work great, I've heard, at least for deer.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: cats

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Cats that are in your yard are considered stray cats. Once they start using a certain area as a toilet, it is almost impossible to stop. The motion sprayers sound like a good idea, but I have not tried one because I did not think I should pay for irresponsible owners letting their cats roam. I used to get a cat trap from the humane society, trap them, and turn them in. Now I own a cat trap. Arrowhead also has a good one.
If you are going to trap cats, you need to contact your local humane society & they will tells the laws/rules you need to follow.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 9:30AM
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becky_jean(z8 GA)

I recently saw in online catalog some plastic or rubber squares with little spikes sticking up to deter cats but won't harm them (though harm wouldn't hurt MY feelings). I think it was garders supply.com. I've had cat problems, but with them killing my birds, so recently had animal control put out trap; they caught the worst one last week & going to place it out again for the other one.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 9:16AM
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michelelee(z8 WA)

This is what I do (I don't do this when its cold out))

This sounds terrible but it has worked for me.

I bought a live animal trap (a cage), fix it with bait,wait for a cat to get caught. Then I take the hose and spray them down while they are in the cage. I let them sit there awhile, come back and do it again, then I let them go. It doesn't hurt them, just gives them a good scare.
I feel bad but I am fed up.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 10:24PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

As long as you've got them in a cage, see if you can get them neutered! Your local SPCA will have a list of free spay/neuter clinics.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 10:31PM
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I have read all these suggestions, and while I may agree with some, MY problem is that they are MY cats! I love them too much to have them taken to the pound and I have too much garden space to put down cayenne pepper... any suggestions?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 10:20AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Gardenangel, the average lifespan of a totally outdoor cat can be as brief as about a year and a half, while a totally indoor cat is expected to live upwards of 15 years. My mother lost her 18 year old siamese last year (acted like a kitten up to the last week of her life)...she had never been outdoors. She had never once been sick, never had a single flea ever, never killed a songbird.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 11:26AM
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Cat Deterrents for your Garden:

Keep in mind that each cat is different (like people), a deterrent that works for one may not necessarily work for another. On the plus side, most cats will keep pesty squirrels, moles and other critters out of your garden. They're great for keeping out moles, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters which can do more damage in your garden than a cat ever will. If the cats have owners, talk to them without being confrontational. The cat owner who allows his cat to damage other peoples' property is as guilty as the cat hater who kills the cat for trespassing. Remember, cats will be cats, and it is unfair of us to blame them for being what they are and how nature intended them to participate in this world.� After-all, we praise them when they catch mice or rats or other creatures we deem to be 'pests'.

* amonia soaked (corncobs, etc)
* aluminum foil
* bamboo skewers
* black pepper
* blood meal fertilizer
* bramble cuttings
* Carefresh - "recycled" wood pulp
* catnip - donated into your neighbor's yards (so they'll stay in their own yards)
* cedar compost
* chicken wire (metal or plastic)
* cinnamon
* citrus peels
* citrus spray
* cocoa bean shells
* coffee grounds -fresh & unbrewed, not just a light sprinkling (highly recommended by MANY Gardenwebbers!)
* dogs
* electric fence for animals
* essence of orange. essence of lemon, lime (citrus essential oils)
* fresh manure(ditto)
* garlic cloves
* gumballs from the Sweet Gum Tree
* gutter covers
* hardware cloth
* heavy bark mulch
* holly leaves
* keep the area damp, they like dry soil
* lavender
* liquid manure (good for your garden too)
* motion sensor sprinkler
* pennyroyal
* pinecones
* pipe tobacco
* plastic forks
* predator urine
* red wine vinegar
* river rocks over the exposed soil
* rocks, crushed
* rose bush clippings
* rue, an herb (Ruta graveolens) (highly recommended in plant form only)
* short twigs throughout the planted area about 6" apart
* six-inch bamboo skewers (pointy side up)
* Spray on your leaves (not the cat): fill a spray bottle with 1/2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper, 1 t dish soap and water
* squirt gun with water
* talk to your neighbors
* tansy
* thorny berry, lilac, hawthorn, rose clippings
* toothpicks
* upside down vinyl carpet
* vinegar sprayed on areas where they roam
* water bottle on "stream"

*** chili powder, red crushed pepper, cayenne pepper (NOT recommended), it gets on the cat's paws then they wash themselves and they get it in their eyes, beware cats have literally scratched their eyes out because of this. Even if it's one cat out of 500 infected in this way, that's one too many for me.
*** Don't ever use mothballs or flakes. Those little toxic waste pellets destroy cats' kidney function, could seriously harm people who handle them, and yes, contaminate your own garden soil. Their packaging even warns against using them this way.

Give them their own areas:

(To keep them out of where you don't want them)
(If you don't mind them protecting your garden from other critters)

+ pick the cat up and bring it to eye level with the plant to see and smell it up close. She noted that once her cat has seen and sniffed at the plant, she usually doesn't bother with it later.

+ give them their own plants - i.e., pots of grass for her to chew on and a place in a large planted container on her balcony with some miscanthus grass in it (the cat likes to curl up in that for some reason)

+ if the cats are strictly indoors and attracted to your houseplants, grow catgrass for them. If someone forced you to remain inside one enclosed structure all your life, you might be attracted to the plants too.

+ Barley Grass
+ Any type of "catgrass" from the pet store
+ Carex elata 'Bolwes Golden' but put it in some shade
+ Catmint Nepeta mussinicultivars (Simply put, Catmints are Catnips without any culinary or feline use. In any case, they are, however, phenomenal, long flowering, hardy perennials that belong in every fairie or flower garden.)
+ Catnip Nepeta cataria (in your own yard) The oils of which also work as a mosquito repellent that works 10 times better than Deet! Catmint is the common name for all varieties of Nepeta. Catnip is the common name for the specific variety of Nepeta called nepeta cataria, which is the variety that cats are most attracted to.
+ Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)
+ Flax
+ Oat Grass
+ Jacob's Ladder
+ Lemon Grass
+ Loose soil and mulch like small bark mulch
+ Mints
+ Purple Fountain Grass so the cat lays in the long leaves all day. Maybe put something in that the cats really like and - you know cats won't winky were they like to hang out.
+ Sandy area
+ Silver vine (Actinidia polygama)
+ Striped Ribbon Grass (can be invasive)
+ Sweet grass
+ Trificum aestivum (type of cat grass)
+ Various Varieties of Cat Mints (Catnips)
+ Wheat Grass
+ Wheat Berries
+ Valerian

This list compiled by Violet_Z6, email at violet_z6@yahoo.com for comments and suggestions regarding this list.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 5:52PM
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Great information from Violet! I have to do something to stop the neighbor's unneutered tom from destroying my beds---cannot smell the flowers because my boxwood bed reeks of his urine.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 7:05AM
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