cat poop found in leaves-are the leaves no good for mulch?

ameera(z11 Dubai)March 18, 2011

This is probably a ridiculous question to ask but I really am not sure.

I have been slowly collecting leaves falling in our courtyard and the leaves on the sides of the road as mulch for my tomato plants.

Today I decided to go up on our roof (its flat) and there are enough leaves up there to fill around 3-4 65 gallon trash bags.

I collected one trash bag worth and went through about a 5th of it to rid them of the little twigs and to crush.

While doing this I found about 5-6 clumps of dried cat poo and I am assuming if a stray cat would poop amongst the leaves it would also pee.

I am assuming there is going to be more poop clumps in the big bag... should I throw all the leaves out or are they ok to use as mulch so long as I take out all of the cat poo?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No problem as far as I'm concerned. Cats and all sorts of other animals regularly poop and pee in gardens. Be nice if they didn't but that's life.

I have armadillos that routinely fertilize my gardens while tilling them for me. I just wish they'd do the tilling before I plant rather than after. :(

But you can always just stock pile the leaves and let it compost first if you aren't comfortable with it. It decomposes quickly.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 5:46PM
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Both dog and cat manure may contain organisms that cause human health problems. Rule of thumb: Don't use manure from meat eating animals. The health hazards associated with cat and dog manure are greater than the potential benefit from its fertilizer value.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:24PM
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Use it under the bushes. If you're asking if it's okay to use it then you do have concerns. Act on your instincts and don't use it to mulch food plants.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 7:31PM
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ameera(z11 Dubai)

ok thank you!! I am not going to use them then.

could I use the leaves as mulch for the base of some young trees out in front of our home? there are no food plants in the near them. And for sure we will never plant food plants there.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:14PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

That will work.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:28AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I have a similar concern. We have had our son's dog visiting and she managed to get into one of the perennial beds to leave a few 'presents'. I have dedicated raised vegetable beds where I exclusively grow my vegetables, but this year, I wanted to try to find a way to squeeze in a few more tomato plants and I was considering planting tomatoes in that particular perennial bed. If I have removed the 'presents' and plant a tomato plant about 4 feet away from where it was deposited, is that something to be concerned about?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 3:33AM
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prariemoon I wouldn't be concerned.

ameera, that should be fine. The point is that I think it unwise to deliberately dump more dog and cat "manure" on food crop beds and if I saw a dog or cat using my veg gardens religiously as a litter box I would try and discourage them.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 8:36AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

As I said above it isn't a big concern.

But you also don't need to throw out the baby with the bath water! Of course you don't ADD clumps to food crop beds and of course you discourage the beds use if possible. But you also don't pitch all the mulch or refuse to use the bed just because a cat or dog left a present there.

Put things into perspective folks. Plants have a built in filtration system otherwise we wouldn't be able to eat anything we grow because of all the bacteria in the soil. Low growing leafy green may come into direct contact with the soil and its contents (which is why they need to be washed well) but unless your tomatoes are laying on the ground there is no direct contact.

You have do to what you are comfortable with but disposing of the poop clumps themselves is sufficient and you'll find many discussions about this particular topic over on the Soil, Compost & Mulch forum here.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 10:07AM
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My fave disposal is to throw them under the 'bush of the week', then when I mow, I take a catcher-bag of grass clipping and cover the dog bombs under that bush. They're now out of sight and are being used in a beneficial way. And the bushes seem to love it.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thank you Dave and Big Daddy for very reassuring and clear information on the subject! Made a lot of sense.

Trudi, I was considering doing that, thanks for the reassurance that it works out well. I will give that a try once the lawn offers up some clippings .

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 5:17AM
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In the spring, I actually collect our dogs' poo and bury it about 6 inches below the surface in my tomato beds. Plants love it and I feel there is no additional risk because our dogs are regularly wormed and sleep with us anyway but more importantly, plants do not uptake pathogens through their root systems. It is one thing to be dumping carnivore waste directly onto a leafy green that you will be eating and another to feed a fruiting plant with waste that will never contact the fruit you eat. Stray cat poo is a little different because you do not know the health status of the animal but I still don't think it would be a problem if there was no contact between the poo and the fruit. Americans can be a little squeamish about nature and make generalizations about benefits not worth risk but with reasonable care, I really don't think anyone can draw up a specific scenario that could lead to a harmful result.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 12:22AM
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Plenty of info indicating it best to avoid dog and cat "manure" in one's vegetable garden:

Here's just a few sites. I found NONE recommending the use of cat or dog manure on vegetables. There are so many better fertilizers anyway, why would one risk their families health needlessly?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 6:53AM
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You are on the money, bigdaddy. While it may or may not be hurtful, it certainly isnt helpful, and it encourages animals to continue to use the area as their personal restroom. Nothing quite like stepping in a pile of poo while strolling through the garden in early morning to get your blood pressure up! And lord help me the one time I tracked it in the house before I realized I stepped in it and MrsOkra discovered it in the carpet! ;)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 8:11AM
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You would have to deal with parasites and their eggs.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:18PM
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I don't mean any disrespect to others who may have answered differently, but I am going to have to go with this:

Here is a link that might be useful: No Dog or Cat Feces in the Garden

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:20PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Xxian: That article offers sound advice, but the main point is not that cat and dog feces will contaminate your produce. The danger is primarily to the human who comes in contact with the feces while gardening. If you make every effort to keep the stuff away from your garden, carefully remove any you find, use gloves and wash your produce, it's very unlikely you will have a problem.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 4:32PM
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In my mind, I have to say that,yes...once you see feces in the garden,it changes the information you have to deal with. But it is still besides the true point. As Dave points out, urine happens all the time(many things happen in the night-time with the garden. And urine is hard to see,very hard. I understand the concern you have, now that you have the information. It's half and half, one you can see, the other you cannot. I would say you are over-thinking through concern,which is good. To be honest, I used to think about this situation quite a bit. Nowadays, I just concentrate on the cleaning process during harvest,especially with leafy,ground crops.

Take care,

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 10:30AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

We have squirrels, raccoons, and possums that come through our yard every day. My guess is that depositing some known and trusted cat and or dog poo on in your compost pile or garden bed pretty much assures that those wild beasties won't leave any of theirs there. I would have no problem digging that cat or dog stuff well in under top-side edibles. As for root vegetables, I probably would.

For wilder dogs and cats, I'd have to say that the risk is not from the food growing out of those beds, but from the ungloved hands that handle the soil in those beds. But then again, there are those squirrels, 'coons and possums. Wash your hands.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 11:20PM
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Perfect to the point. Those varmits eat moreless more natural than most of us do. The circular model of life.

Take care,

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:59PM
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