Have your or the neighbor's cats decided to use your garden as their personal litterbox? What are some effective methods of keeping our furry friends out safely? This is a guide about keeping cats out of the garden.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
When we had a garden (and there were lots of feral kitties around us in that neighborhood which was near a park), we just scattered fresh orange or lemon peels throughout the areas and that seemed to do the trick. Cats do not like the smell of citrus peels, which are harmless since the kitties don't bother them at all.
Please do not ever put things like Tabasco sauce or other harmful things anywhere that a helpless little animal might be blinded or made terribly sick by eating or coming into contact with it.
Source: A lifetime of gardening, dealing with animals and looking for ways to do both safely and enjoyably.
By Julia from Boca Raton, FL
To keep cats out of the garden, make some small holes in the bottom of an old plastic milk jug. Put some mothballs inside the jug and put lid back on it. Hang it on your garden fence or close to the garden. A lot of animals don't like the smell of mothballs and you put them in the jug to keep them dry so they smell longer. This won't harm the little kitty.
By mamacrafter from TN
I grow sugar snap peas in a half-barrel, right outside my back door. The neighborhood kitties think that this is an ideal cat-box location and used the barrel as such, driving me (and my indoor cats) crazy! I got some of the plastic construction fence (comes on a roll) and cut a length long enough to cover the opening of the barrel, plus an inch or so on each side. I stapled the "fence" over the top of the barrel, at the top of the edge, making a perforated cover through which the baby plants can grow, rain can fall, and the tomato tower can fit for support. No more cat problems!
Yes, I can re-plant through the fence material - drop the new seeds in, poke with a stick or a pencil, and they are good to go! I am hoping to get this year's peas into the barrel this weekend. I like to plant them around Thanksgiving, but got distracted this year - we'll have fresh sugar snap peas for Easter dinner!
By MooseMom from Elk Grove, CA
Because cats like soft, dig-able soil, every year my flower gardens were at risk of my cat using them as a litter box and digging up my new seedlings, flowers or plants, but I found an answer!
Last year I bought sand (nothing fancy, just two of the cheapest bags I could find) and made an outdoor litter box by dumping the sand into a small pile, behind a stand of plants growing up a trellis, so she would feel safe to go out in the open.
I brought kitty outside and placed her in the 'kitty sandbox' and she immediately knew what to do and went to the bathroom! Occasionally we will go out and scoop up hard pieces, but the weather makes it largely self cleaning and there is no smell! This saves us time and money since she goes more outside than inside in the nice weather and reduces our buying of as much litter as in the past.
I have never seen her go in the garden again, to use it as a litter box, but she does check out the rabbit that lives in there. :) I have never seen any other cat use the box either since I think they avoid another cat's fecal scent.
Now my plants can grow unimpeded by my kitty!
By Donna 
Save all your lemon and orange peel after use and place them around the garden where the cats get in. Also, if you can identify the areas where they defecate (they tend to use the same spots ), put some peels there too. I put mine near the gate and on top of the wall, also on my flower borders. They hate it! I have not seen a cat for ages.
By Jeta from Cumbria, UK
A wire in-basket (the ones that look like a freezer basket) can work hard outside too. Turn one upside down and place it over young plants to protect them from curious cats and other creatures. The metal grid keeps pets from uprooting or trampling delicate plants, such as herbs, and will allow your plants to grow freely.
Source: Martha Stewart Living Magazine, March 2004
By cailifouhnofthemist from Williams Lake, B.C.
I keep cats out of my raised veggie bed, by placing bamboo skewers about 8 to 12 inches apart in a grid pattern. You want them to be close enough, so that cats are uncomfortable digging or even walking through the garden.
I buy the skewers at the dollar store. They are cheap and non-toxic. The skewers can be easily removed as the plants grow and fill in the space. One dollar package takes care of my whole garden and has been working for me for the last three years.
By Jeanette from Citrus Heights, CA
To keep cats out of your garden, lay down some chicken wire and cover with a thin layer of dirt. Cats love to dig, and they can't do it through the wire. Your plants will still come up through the wire spaces.
By Cheryl D. from Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Cats like soft soil and will make a bee line for where you've just been digging. Dig a hole, blow up a balloon, and bury it in the hole. When the cat comes to inspect the nice soft soil, thinks this is a nice place, and starts digging, bang! No cats are hurt.
By daff55odil from Kent, England
In the past we have had a problem with the neighborhood cats (and our own) using our garden as a liter box. Yuck! So to stop them in their tracks, so to speak ,we devised a way to stop them from digging. This method is completely harmless to the cats and other creatures.
We went to our local home improvement store and bought a large roll of plastic bird mesh. We laid it over every square inch of our garden. We also made sure that the edges were weighted down so that the more clever of the pets wouldn't be able to move it aside. As the seedlings come up, we cut small slits down the rows.
The kitties cannot dig and do not like the feel of it on their paws.
By Angi from Spokane, WA
Source: Absolute frustration with the neighborhood furrrrrs using my big pots as littler boxes.
By Eileen from Elk Grove, CA
I would lay down stones, rocks, pebbles, or pine cones. Unlike sprays, they're decorative, safe, inexpensive, and durable. Cats won't bother moving these around when they can find exposed dirt elsewhere.
Another idea I heard from Petkeeping with Marc Marone, is to lay down chicken wire around plants, and cover with dirt or mulch. His intention was for digging dogs, but it could also work for cats.
By CS7 from OR
I love to grow roses. I regularly trim the branches for size and shape. The thorn-covered twigs and branches are placed strategically around and in my garden. It keeps the cats and other critters from digging up my plants. Broken pecan and walnut shells work too.
By Tina from San Antonio, TX
This may not work in every situation, but it's worth a shot. Use some of the pointed wooden skewers (think kabobs), and insert them into the ground close enough together to keep the cat from being able to dig and bury. For just a couple dollars (maybe purchase the skewers at a dollar store), this method will avoid the need for chemicals, and is biodegradable and natural.
By webduck from Port Orchard, WA
I was going through my stuff to be free-cycled and decided to give some things one more try. I found a green giant jack, a beautiful green colored one, the kind you buy in a pack at the dollar store, and two plastic spinning tops the kids don't like anymore. They both have little tops that have about an inch protruding from the top like a little stem.
We all know how much we hate jacks loose in the house, well I thought to myself, maybe these will make cats not want to dig in the garden or in my potted plants, and if it doesn't work then I can use them for something else. I have found it works in the potted plants and I am sure it will work in the garden, just so long as I don't forget they are there and step on them or mow them. That is where I suspect that mosquito netting might come in handy to put around the garden or any material that allows water through, It would discourage our little darlings from using this as their own "place."
I like finding new uses for things. I hate to see a good thing go to waste!
By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN
Here is what I've found to deter cats from areas they are unwanted and prevent spraying.
Lime Essential Oil: My cats hate this smell. I splash a little in the area and they avoid it. Continuous use in an area eventually led to them leaving that area alone (e.g. countertops and houseplants).
Canned Air: If you see a cat approaching an unwanted area, use some canned air like you get in an office supply store and use to dust keyboards. All cats hate the hiss sound of this air.
If you can't be around enough, invest in a motion sensor topper for the canned air. It can be expensive, but it will cut down on the amount of cleaning you have to do and soon have the cats avoiding the area.
Enzymatic Cleaners: Lastly, invest in some good enzymatic urine cleaner. If homemade recipes don't work, you need the added power of these cleaners. I buy Bio-kleen from Amazon. Urine Destroyer works on really saturated areas. Cats will keep spraying an area that smells like urine, especially other cats' urine. You have to remove "all" the smell or they keep coming back.
My solution would be to lay down stones or pine cones around plants. It's decorative, reusable and free, or a one-time purchase. I also believe it's safer, more effective, and cheaper than sprays. Cats won't bother pushing these around, when they can find exposed dirt elsewhere.
By Chantal from OR
Lay down a layer of chicken wire, weigh it down very well, and cover it with a thin layer of dirt. Cats like to dig and they cannot dig through chicken wire but flowers and veggies can still come up through it.
By Cheryl from Wolfville, Nova Scotia
When I dug a hole and planted a tree, the cats decided to use the soil as litter box. Not wanting my new tree to be killed, I inverted a plastic tray from the nursery-the big mesh kind, and cut a hole in the middle the diameter of the tree trunk, and then cut into it from one edge to the hole. I slipped this around the tree trunk and the cats won't go near it.
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Here are questions related to Keeping Cats Out of the Garden.
How can I keep stray cats from urinating on my flowerpots? What is there that I can use as homemade cat repellent and stop them from using my garden as a bathroom?
By achongolele from Brandon, FL
The following is from the Purina Website. The site clearly lists Mothballs as a potential poison whereas cats are concerned. The use of mothballs is NOT recommended.
Please err in the side of caution when dealing with the health of any member of your family, be they two legged, fourlegged, winged or scaled.
Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, one or two balls can be life-threatening in most species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds, and alcoholic drinks.
By By Racer
By By Leila
A cheaper remedy might be sprinkling very hot pepper powder around the plant. A neighbor of mine used to mix up a concoction of the juice from garlic jars and ultra hot pepper powder which she diluted with water and sprayed on the plants. Animals can smell the stuff from quite a distance and it scares them away.
I used to have a cat, and one of the ways that I trained her to stay away from my plants was by spraying her with a plant mister whenever she went near them.
Another thing I would do was roll up a newspaper and hit the floor with it. Cats have very sensitive hearing. It bothered her greatly. It didn't take her very long to realize that there were consequences for playing with my plants, and she stopped quickly. I never had trouble with her and the plants again.
Perhaps you can provide a separate planter for cat use. Fill it part-way with kitty litter, and never forget to change it when company comes. This can work because it is easier to dig in litter than in a potted plant. I use this method for my garden; at each edge of our property, we have a pile of cat litter so cats can find an easy place to dig *other than* my vegetable garden! Mulches can help. I found that what cats liked about my freshly planted or freshly weeded beds was the loosened soil. So, as much as possible, I now cover my garden beds with a layer of mulch. Cats may actually like some mulches better than the real litter, so be ready to change kinds. One that discourages them is newspaper layered all over the bed, and held down with a few rocks at the edge and a sprinkling of something like peat moss. Indoors, you might try large gravel, decorative rocks, seashells, or knickknacks. I think that Spanish moss might work, and nut shells (saved from our snacks -- get unsalted) . You are looking for something that just doesn't seem suited for digging in.
You could put a piece of screen or hardware cloth over the planter, with openings the plant can get through. You might use the mesh that is used for flower-arrangements, and let the stems grow up through it. You could plant a ground-cover plant in the planter. We have some small trees in planters with moss covering the soil. In others, we have a *weed* that has edible leaves. In others, we grow grasses that have interesting textures. You can grow short plants under tall ones, short plants that tend to fill up the space and even show a tendency to sprawl. (Coincidentally, one nice plant for underplanting taller ornamentals is called catmint. An herb, rue, is said to deter cats.) This can be quite attractive and double the enjoyment of your container plants. You can group smaller pots in the larger planters. All those rims get in the way of digging. This can also save time when you are watering. Animals rarely choose to mess where they eat. So, if you feed you cats at the planters, if you put their food dishes or treats right in there, chances are, the cats will not use those planters as litter boxes. In the same vein, you might try growing shallow dishes of rye grass for cat nibbling, and place those in the planters. To sum up these ideas, you try to place something between the cat and the potting soil you don't want dug up, and you make sure the cat has a convenient alternative place to dig his potty.
Rose B, mother of three, in NC
Here are several easy, safe, and effective ways to deter cats from using your neighbor's garden as a litter box, but, unlike moth balls, they don't pose a health hazard to cats or humans. Or, heck, you could do what my boss suggested and try releasing a whole herd of gophers or mice. Then your kitties will be the guests of honor! (Just kidding!)
There are many herbs that cats don't like to be around, including lavender, rue, geranium, absinthe, and lemon-thyme. Also, a German professional gardener, Dieter Stegmaier of Essingen, has created a hybrid so repulsive to cats, they stay a yard away from it. It smells like schnapps to us, and is actually a pretty and hardy plant with blue flowers that bloom throughout most of the summer. Its Latin name is Coleus canin. You can order it through various mail order services in Germany.
This mixture is easy to make and can be used anywhere you want to repel cats (or groundhogs, for that matter):
Simply mix together and sprinkle.
By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer, Healthy Living Channels
I just hit on this idea three days ago...so far, so good. I have a 'serenity garden' filled with sand. I use a rake to make different designs in the sand. My cat uses his intestinal contents to mess it up. I had several rolls of black net that is used for covering trees so birds won't eat the fruit. This stuff is very inexpensive. I covered the sand with it and weighted it down along the edges with pretty rocks. My cat hates this stuff...his claws get stuck in it when he tries to dig. Extra perk: When the sand is dry, I can use the rake (Upside down) and still make designs right thru the net. Yippee!
Please help, my neighbour's cat is using my garden as a litter box. I've cleaned it once but the cat returned. If I put moth balls out will this keep the cat out or will the cat eat them?
I want to deter the cats & dogs from using our yard as a toilet but not deter wild birds or harm them what to use? We have feeders out on platforms on poles in yard & bird baths.
How do I keep cats out of my flowers in pots on my porch?
You can put rocks around the plant in the pot - as many rocks as you need to completely cover the soil. OR, you can get a roll of "garden fence" in various colors and cut a piece to fit the top of your pot. Cut a slit in the fencing, so that you can place it around your plant, and lay it on top of the soil or staple it to the rim of the pot.
If orange peels and lemon peels work, why not use orange or lemon juice in a garden sprayer and just spray the yard?
By Buddy J.
Ants would be attracted to orange juice. Plus the zest of the fruit is where the oil is and is what makes it so strong.
I am looking for solutions to stop outdoor cats from using my outdoor plastic shed as their litter box.
By cats rule
I agree with the previous poster regarding the lemons. There are some cat repellants that work, but their smell is almost as bad as the cat pee, and they all have to be re-applied after a rain. I think orange peels or grapefruits might work just as well. I have repelled them with lemon scented Mr. Clean splashed on my wall, where stray males were spraying their scent. Do not use something toxic like moth balls. Much worse than the cat smell, and far more toxic to you!
Hardiness Zone: 2a
By Linn from Halifax, Nova Scotia
Lay "chicken" wire or "rabbit" wire down in your flower bed. Since most cats will scratch a hole and then scratch again to try to cover the potty up, they are frustrated by the wire and will move on to a more kitty friendly source of dirt. I hold the wire down with rocks or tree limbs. You could use any landscape decorative weight to hold it down. You will probably have to wait till fall or spring to lay down the wire so you don't ruin this years flowers.
How do you prevent cats from using your flower boxes as litter boxes?
By Gerry S.
Recently there are feral cats who are doing their "business" in my flower bed.
How do I get them out of there?
By Lorraine from Bristol, CT
Plant onions and garlic around the border. They make nice flowers also when not harvested. The cat's won't like the smell. In the mean time, till the plants grow, puree a garlic and onion mush in a blender (raw), slowly add a bit of water at a time till it is thin.
Pour it into an empty hand dish detergent bottle with a flip tab (The pull up kind might get clogged with bits), then squirt a stream of the solution around your garden each morning. It will water your garden around the edges which some times get missed and keep the cats away. (Or so my mom and son say) My son's a pro.
I have a large planter in my yard and the cats use it as a potty. How can I keep them out of it?
By V Meyers from Discovery Bay, CA
Cats don't like it when there is something in the middle of the pot. Like tall spindly lights, or just one of the shorter wider ones from dollar tree. It makes it uncomfortable for them to get comfortable. Also if you shave some orange peels around the top, the cat finds it offensive.
I had problems with my cats thinking my flower pots were there beds. Something in the pot that is UN comfortable for them to lay on does the trick. Even if it is a dollar tree decoration, or even a few pointed stones. An ornamental stick from the ground etc...
If your planter has kitty smell, clean out and use some garden lime. The garden lime takes away the cat smell. Do all of these and there is less of a chance of cat problems.
How do I stop cats from going in the garden?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Jesus from Elizabethtown, PA
Here is what I did , take a pop bottle fill it halfway with water and lay it down sideways in your garden apparently they don't like the motion of the water it seems to have helped me, I read that mothballs also worked, but there is a plant called piss off from ritchers herbs go online and source them out I buy herbs from them. My brother uses netting all around his raised beds, I will try that too this year.
What can I plant in my garden to put off cats from using my vegetable patch for a litter tray?
Hardiness Zone: 3b
By Vinny from Liverpool, England
I know that they hate citrus so I would put a lot of peels around that area. I may have to do that this year too. Or hot pepper sauce mixed with oil or soapy water sprayed around there and repeat every week and if it rains. These are cheap and worth trying
How can I keep cats out of garden beds?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Lois from Toledo, OH
My garden is territorial ground for eight cats and it is driving me crazy. I have tried lots of deterrents with no success. Next is moving house. Can anyone help?
By J.S. Harris from Cheshire
I like the citrus peel solution for keeping cats out of the garden! However, would that encourage ants? We already have a problem with them, as we live at the beach and the soil is very sandy! I am sick to the back teeth of neighbours' cats in my garden, will want to try any humane solution.
By Annie L
I want to keep cats off my garden and stop them from coming into my house.
By Lindy from Wolves
Are there any non lethal ways to deter neighbours cat from doing its business in my nice gardens! argh!
By linn from Canada
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.
|I recently made a new area of the garden "mine". The cats had been using this as a cat box in the past (or so I think). Any ideas to keep them away? |
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||07/24/2003|
|Here's a similar request with lots of ideas about keeping cats of of pots. Maybe something here will help.|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||06/04/2004|
|If they have been using this already for some time, you may need to replace the soil or add in a good amount of topsoil. If you are planting vegetables you wouldn't want any of the known cat feces diseases to get into your food. If you are planting flowers, the acids in the urine may affect some types of flowers.|
|By Tawnda (Guest Post)|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||07/18/2004|
|Mix 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of mustard with 1 cup hot pepper sauce that contains habenero peppers, and 2 cups vinegar with 3 cups water. Blend well. Pour a thin stream in several areas of the garden. Sounds silly, but it works! The scent keeps cats away so it is harmless.|
|By Shirley Mac (Guest Post)|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||07/19/2004|
|Just a note on Shirley's post... vinegar can and will kill grass, weeds and your good plants, so be careful when spreading around the garden that it doesn't leach into the soil around your favorite plants. And those habo peppers should keep anything out, LOL. I have this marked in my favorites. :)|
|By Dee (Guest Post)|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||08/15/2004|
|In the spring, after you plant seeds or before you put seedlings in, lay fence down on top of the garden soil. You can use wire chicken-coop type fence if you want but the cheapest and easiest to use is the flexible plastic fence with 1 x 1 inch or 2 x 2 inch holes sold in roll. It is cheap and available at Walmart in the spring. The cats will no longer use the garden as a litter box because it isn't pleasing to scratch soil through the fence. |
The other thing I've used: After I cut back my rose bushes, I take the branches that have lots of thorns and criss cross and lay them throughout the garden. Cats and animals hate thorny branches in their way but the plants and seedlings don't mind, they grow over and around the rose branches. Don't bother with pepper spray or moth balls etc., once it rains it washes the smell away.
Using the fencing and rose branches stopped my 4 cats from using my garden as a litter box. However, now I have crows eating my ripe tomatoes so I have to do something. I bought a fake owl and move the owl to different posts every third day or so, but the crows got wise to it. Should I make a scarecrow?
|By Melissa (Guest Post)|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||08/16/2004|
|Regarding the crows eating the tomatoes. Drive a few wooden stakes among your plants. Attach some of those unsolicited ISP CD's you get in your mailbox. Just tie a string on them and tack them to to top of the stakes so they can swing. The shiny reflection will scare the birds away. If you don't have any CD's, go to the Post Office and pick up a few... they have AOL ones all the time. Harlean from Arkansas|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||04/28/2005|
|Has anyone tried "used" coffee grounds as a deterrent for the cats? I have read that they do not like the smell and stay away. With dogs on one side of us, and a cat on the other, this whole issue is a challenge!|
|By mamasix (Guest Post)|
|RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden||06/14/2005|
|Mothballs in the hole doesn't work, the cats kept using the garden as a spot to dig,urinate,and poop. I use javex around my garden edge and it works great, now I don't have a problem with cats.|
|By icewoman152003 (Guest Post)|
I have several cats in the neighborhood that come and go in my garden. Is there a natural remedy of something I can put in my garden to keep them out.
My problem is my neighbor's CATS. Don't get me wrong, I do love cats, just not in my back yard. I have an old dog but would not want to use anything that would either hurt my dog or the cats. I just want to be able to get them out of my yard and keep them out
How can I keep the neighboor's cat out of my garden?