Help! My cats are using my mulched rose garden as a potty box. What can I do to make them stop? These are not house cats, they are all strays that have taken up residence. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
Trinidad from Granger, WA
You have a number of easy options. However, I don't know how any of them effect roses and the dirt around them, hopefully you do so you'd know what to not try.
1. Orange, lemon, and citrus in general repel cats. The peels of these fruits scattered in the bed may help.
2. Vinegar, the cure all for everything. Cats don't much like the smell of vinegar. If you have wood chip mulch I think you could soak some of it in a cup of vinegar and then spread it around. However, it may effect the pH of the soil.
3. Shiny things. Especially shiny, crinkly things. ie crumpled coke cans, foil. Cats don't like stepping on foil, so if you cover the ground with foil and secure it with rocks they're not apt to step foot in the flower bed. I don't know if it would effect how much heat the soil gets though. Crushed cans with the tabs left on and strung up on a string just high enough they can swing freely deter cats, but may not look too swell. (10/19/2007)
You can also put down a layer of chicken wire. They don't like scratching the chicken wire with their paws. I use foil or thin aluminum squares. They are sold here as spatter-guards; don't know if you have them, but they are made the same thickness as aluminum pie plates. They rattle when stepped on. I use these in the house to keep cats off the stove and counters.
Glad you're letting them "take up residence" and I'm sure they appreciate it! (10/19/2007)
Spread a generous amount of organic prickly things around the garden such as pine cones, holly leaves or rock mulch. Cats don't like prickles under their feet. A combination of the above may be more successful than just one type.
Also, plant low ground cover plants on the bare soil between plants. I see cat leavings only in the bare soil areas, especially newly planted where I haven't yet mulched with bark chips. Low sedums make a great cover, and, although it is somewhat taller, plumbago does too, spreading underground and filling in bare spots. I believe these plants are hardy in the far north as well as in more temperate zones. (10/19/2007)
When I lived in Nevada there were around a half dozen wild cats using my flowerbeds for a litter box. I put down cocoa mulch. I found it at Home Depot. What it is is cocoa shells from cocoa beans. Now that it's becoming the rainy season I recommend you rake the shells at least once a week so that mold doesn't settle. This is a sure cure as to other products that lose their smells or just decompose. Try it. I'm sure the cats will find a new location, as they did in my yard. (10/19/2007)
We put the small rock in all our flower beds. You can use different colored rock. It looks pretty and the cats stay away. (10/19/2007)
I use citrus peels. As you use the fruit, just chop the peels into small pieces and scatter in your beds. They will have to be replaced as they lose their smell, but the cats soon learn to go elsewhere and then the problem is solved. I still put some out on occasion, just as a gentle reminder. My neighbor has 2 cats and when I started using the peels they soon found other areas that were more pleasant to them. (10/19/2007)
Cracked nut shells, pine cones, gumballs, and citrus peels keep them out of mine. (10/19/2007)
Moth balls. (10/20/2007)
I water the area that the cats are using as a potty frequently and they stop using that area. I think they don't like to use an area that is wet. (10/20/2007)
I also suggest the citrus peels. I used mothballs, but the smell from them was worse than the "litter box" smell. It also might help if you had a location in the yard that the cats COULD use that they might think of as attractive. My cats go crazy digging every spring when I have my garden worked up. Perhaps there is an area you could entice them to that would be suitable. I am also thinking that they might like the smell of those particular roses. Sometimes when I have roses from the florist, the cats won't leave them alone, so there is something attractive about some types, just like catnip. (10/20/2007)
Put mothballs in the flowerbed. You will have to spread more as they deteriorate. They work though. (10/20/2007)
You can also use dried eggshells. Crush them and spread them around. Cats don't like the sharp edges and they will not deteriorate like the mothballs. (10/20/2007)
A friend of mine says that putting hair (that is human hair, ask the hair dresser) works great! I've never tried it myself though. (10/20/2007)
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