Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

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.

August 10, 2015 Flag
4 found this helpful

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!

November 6, 20160 found this helpful

Pardon me if this sounds too harsh to all cat owners but in my neighborhood (suburbs) too many cat owners let their cats out to spray all over other people's belongings or shrubs leaving an awful ammonia odor. I also watch them torture the adorable, defenseless chipmunks which results in death after 1 hour of the cat "playing'' with it. Don't get me wrong, I like cats, coming from a family who had cats as pets, my favorite getting hit by a car after he escaped from the house - but I feel they should be kept safe in a house or tether them safely in your yard if you want them to go out.

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Anonymous Flag
November 19, 20160 found this helpful

July 26, 2011 Flag
5 found this helpful

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

July 26, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with you all the way. Orange peels may work, but if you don't have them, there are products sold that will help with the problem without having to harm the cats. The poor cats are probably out there through no fault of their own. Blame people, not the cats.


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January 3, 2011 Flag
5 found this helpful

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!

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April 6, 2011 Flag

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.

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July 29, 2011 Flag
2 found this helpful

I keep cats out of my raised veggie beds 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.

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May 8, 2012 Flag
2 found this helpful

Lots of pine cones, the stickier the better! Just put them all around the stem(s) and fill the pot with them.

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June 28, 2010 Flag
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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!

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June 23, 2014 Flag
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Here is what I've found to deter cats from areas they are unwanted and prevent spraying.

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July 26, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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.

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March 1, 2007 Flag
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Tips for keeping cats out of planters without chemicals.

Never Use Mothballs

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 Mrs Cohen - Northfield, VT

Jacks or Sticks

Buy some cheap "jacks" (the game you played when a child) and put a few around on top of the dirt on your plants. Cats do not like things that poke. I keep the neighbors cat from lying in my flower beds by sticking some small sticks in the soil. The cat doesn't even come near the area anymore, she knows it is not a good place to lay down.

By Judy

Water Spray

Newspaper wouldn't deter my cats. I keep several spray bottles around with water. I used to mix it but vinegar I got it in one of the darling's eyes and I'll never forget the pain on his face, even though he's been dead for years. I just spray them with plain water now, sometimes ice water. This is a great way to break up fights too, even with dogs. We call it "Dampening their enthusiasm."

By Linne

Nylon Netting

For keeping cats out of the soil of big potted house plants, try this. Buy some nylon netting at the fabric store, brown or black would blend in best, and cut it in a circle to fit on the pot (with a slit from one side to the middle). Slide it around the plant and lay on top of the dirt. Water and fertilizer can still reach the roots, and the cat doesn't like the texture of the netting and won't climb or dig in the dirt.

By Darby

Stones or Mulch

I have found that lining my planters or potted plants with small pebbles or rivers stones work great. For the really large areas, try mulch or larger hard pieces of bark. Good luck!

By Nicole

Red Pepper

We had several neighborhood cats using our planters for their potty but they stopped when we sprinkled the dirt with some red pepper. It really work.

By Nrsnice1

Thorny Rose Cuttings

To help keep cats out of flower boxes between blooms, save small rose branch cuttings and stick them in the box soil straight up. The cats push them out of the way if they are laying down. They should eventually get the drift that this box is off limits.

By Mary

Orange Peels

Use the peels of an orange. Toss them in your garden or planter, cats don't like them.

By fido5344

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil with holes punched in it laid over the dirt and then weighted down with a rock or two should work.

By By Racer

Chicken Wire And Mulch

Layer the soil with chicken wire and cover with a bulky mulch like tree bark. They can't dig and the bark makes it uncomfortable to lay on, while looking nice.

By By Leila

Fox Urine And Other Ideas

My mother used to have a problem with neighborhood cats; they used to come into her yard all the time and they would jump over the fence and trample all over her flower beds. Someone suggested that she use fox urine. You can get special containers for liquid fox urine. Just hang them on the plant, or sprinkle the powdered stuff on the dirt around it. It's very expensive, but it works, and it is completely nontoxic.

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.

By skbeal

Peat Moss

Cover the dirt in the planter with Sphagnum (peat moss). It kept my cats out of the planter and is actually good for the plant as it retains additional moisture.

By Nick

Rose B's Ideas

There are several approaches. One would be to put the plants where it is hard for cats to get to them. That is usually easier said than done! However, it will take a while before cats explore in places where they risk falling into water. So, some of my outdoor plants are perched on an "island" in a kiddy pool. Some of the indoor ones are set above the kitchen sink. If your planter is fairly easy to supervise, you could fill an atomizer bottle with a mix of half water, half vinegar, and spritz the cat who gets too curious about the houseplants. Don't get the vinegar on the plants! We keep a spray bottle handy, mostly because vinegar water is pretty effective at diluting and deodorizing erroneous puddles on the carpet (kittens make mistakes) and where a tom has sprayed. For the most part, when one of our cats starts toward one of the forbidden areas (the dining room table is so tempting!), we just have to shake the spray bottle and look the offender right in the eyes.

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

Keeping Cats Out Of Your Neighbor's Garden

We love our next-door neighbor, but I think she's trying to tell us something. She put moth balls all along the line between our yards, I guess to keep our kitties out of her garden. But moth balls are toxic!

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

Anonymous Flag
April 9, 20161 found this helpful

You should buy these things. It is NOT your neighbor's responsibility to buy things to control YOUR cat.

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October 9, 20160 found this helpful

July 29, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

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.

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May 16, 2013 Flag
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How do I keep cats out of my flowers in pots on my porch?

By Jodi

May 18, 20130 found this helpful

Plant Society Garlic most cats are offended by their odor.

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May 5, 2010 Flag

A wire in-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.

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June 12, 2011 Flag
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How do I keep cats from using my garden as a litter box? Is there anything I can put in the dirt that won't harm the cats or my roses?

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