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Keeping cats out of the garden

The stray cat population has exploded around here lately. (Hmmmm inaccurate description, bad visual...) what I mean to say is that the number of felines roving our urban neighborhood has increased, and they enjoy using my freshly-dug garden as a commode. I'm a litte surprised b/c we have two noisy Boston Terriers who love to chase cats. I would have thought that the dogs' smell would keep the cat away, but maybe not out of the raised beds (where the dogs do not "go," for obvious reasons).

I tried laying old window screens on top of newly-seeded beds, and that works reasonably well but I only have so many old screens and they only work until the seedlings get so high. Also, the cats have become bolder lately; one grey fellow sunning himself on our picnic table merely gazed at us when I brought the children out into the yard. Any other ideas to discourage unwanted feline visitors?

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  1. I hate to say this, but you need to call Animal Control and put out traps. They won't go away and they are fixin' to reproduce. Let me qualify by saying I'm a cat and dog owner and love them both, but the feral cat population will decimate your natural bird population. Birds are a natural part of the food chain, feral cats are not. Ignoring them won't make them go away.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sue in Mt P

      And feral cats carry lots of disease. Animal Control that I've been experienced with use live traps, spay/neuter, etc.

      I read once that having a male (cause they pee standing up) pee around the edges of a garden to keep raccoons out. I wonder if it would work with cats.

      1. re: c oliver

        It's worth a try. It's not like it's hard, lol! Everybody's gotta go. But feral cats are unrelenting.

        And yes, live traps.

        1. re: Sue in Mt P

          Five or so years ago a bear broke into the house next door. Bob was gone so I 'collected' my urine and poured it below all accessible doors and windows.

      2. re: Sue in Mt P

        Thanks Sue, I will give our AC office a call. Unfortunately our street seems to be a cat haven - there are a few unkempt/dilapadated houses that provide lots of shelter - so I wonder if new cats would just move in even if the current bunch is moved on.

      3. A method that will work in small areas is aluminum foil. You can pierce it to allow water to go through. Cats fear and loath walking on aluminum foil....it freaks them out. A company in Canada called Lee Valley Tools also sells a product to deter cats, it's a set of little mats with spikes (soft enough to not damage paws!) that cat's won't walk on. As I recall, they're pricey. I'll find a link for you.

        Here you go, the unfortunately named "Cat Scat" mats:


        1 Reply
        1. re: SherBel

          Thanks - the foil is a great idea!

        2. I've used cayenne pepper around the border but it must be renewed and only works sporadically. Our dogs were helpful but they were fenced out of the raised beds so could only alert to the intruders. Animal control is my ultimate answer.

          1. You might try installing a motion-activated sprinkler. I have a friend who swears by his. And they have great entertainment value, too - at least until the critters catch on and simply avoid the area.


            2 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              oooo LOVE IT. That would work great in the new side yard. Bet it would keep the skunks away from my flower bulbs, too.

              1. re: gimlis1mum

                The only problem is if they spray back.

            2. I've read that fox urine deters rodents (squirrels and such). Wonder if it'd work for cats. And NO!, you don't collect it yourself!!! :) Purchase it at a feed store or co-op.

              7 Replies
              1. re: CocoaNut

                And I'd like to know how the coop collects it :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  When you find out..... Do tell!!! Or maybe it's best not to know?? :o

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Not that-that *method* doesn't occur, but don't think you'd find the resulting product mainstreamed on retail shelves.

                        I'm sure any vet could explain the procedure as they perform it often on our beloved four-legged family members.

                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          Procedure? What procedure? Foxes are raised for their fur in cages. They urinate as a matter of course, and that urine is collected, bottled, and sold.

                2. One of the best deterrants for cats is moth balls. Distributed around the areas where you don't want them and it generally keeps them out and doesn't harm much else, except moths

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    mothballs are highly toxic and may kill beneficial insects in the soil. the chemicals in mothballs may bond with the garden soils, and while naturally occurring soil microbes will break down the toxic component of mothballs over extended periods of time, how much time would be needed? IMO, mothballs are not worth the risk of poisoning the soil (and any critters or children that may eat them).

                  2. Thank you for all of the replies and ideas!!

                    1. I've also seen pictures of gardens with packages of plastic forks stuck in the ground, tines up -- don't know if it works, but having a fork in the butt sure sounds like a deterrent.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        ha! That might work if my kids were a little older - fork in the mud sounds like an invitation to eat dirt :-)

                      2. I added some cheap hoops and mesh to my raised beds and it keeps the cats out. I also filled some old, 12" diameter pots with extra soil, put them in a sunny spot and the cats seem happy with the solar-warmed dirt beds. They're often curled up in the pots, asleep, and not bothering my garden. Except when the rain is pouring as it is this week. I don't know where they go or "go" during the storms.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kellylee

                          I feed several stray cats/ Yes, they love to dig in my garden but I'm an animal lover and would enver call animal control. So I bought chicken wire and some wooden stakes and put up a fence around my garden. It's easy to pull it open, and the cats stay out. I just left them an area to dig, and they're quite happy with it. I also left a few pots of soil out there, as kellylee suggested, and they use those as well. Cats are good because they chase mice and rats so I want to keep them around.

                        2. We live in the country and have barn cats, yard cats, house cats, cats that just stop by for a while, we've had three neutered males move in with us who evidently didn't care for their people. They do get in the garden and dig, sometimes they use the newly planted soil for a litterbox. But compared to what the deer can do, and the devastation that raccoons can do to a corn field over night, I've never even worried about what the cats do. We've used flashing lights, a radio and an electric fence trying to keep those critters out. The electric fence did help with the raccoons. Deer don't care. I've had them to dig into the ground and bite the tops of beets and pull some up completely to eat them.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: MellieMag

                            The wretched deer ate most of my newly planted lime tree! What? The branches have (had) little spikes every few inches- I am shocked. The veggie beds have fencing/netting for protection but I thought the lime tree could defend itself...

                            1. re: kellylee

                              Deer can jump an 8' fence on level ground.

                          2. scarecrow...motion sensor detects a critter, and they get a little blast from the hose. I've had mine 5 years, works great. Got mine from lee valley, but now they seem to all over the internet reasonably priced

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                              It IS important, though, to put a Post-It on the back door to remind yourself to turn off the sprinklers before wandering out into the back yard.

                              On the other hand, a cold shot from the sprinkler is nearly as effective as coffee at waking you up in morning.

                              The coronary at the shock is not so great, though.