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.

A cat sitting in a garden bed.
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Question: Keep Cats Out Of Planters

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):

  • 2 parts cayenne pepper
  • 3 parts dry mustard
  • 5 parts flour

Simply mix together and sprinkle.

By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer, Healthy Living Channels

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Most Recent Answer

By Barbara B. 1 Flag

October 13, 2013

I just hit on this idea three days 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!

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Tip: Keeping Your Cat from Using Garden as Litter Box

By Donna 309 325

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!

kitty in outside litter box
    Keeping Your Cat from Using Garden as Litter Box

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    Tip: Citrus Peels Keeping Kitties Out of Your Garden Area

    By Julia 147 1,074

    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

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    Tip: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    By mamacrafter 45 30

    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

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    Tip: Keep Cats Out of Planter

    By Eileen M. 56 240

    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

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    Question: Cats Using Flower Garden as a Litter Box

    By franca vassetta 2

    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?

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


    Most Recent Answer

    By boolaaboo 1 1 Flag

    June 19, 2011

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Use Bamboo Skewers To Keep Cats Out

    By Jeanette 6 28

    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

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    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Flower Pots

    By JSRS443 28 14

    How do I keep cats out of my flowers in pots on my porch?

    By Jodi

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    Most Recent Answer

    By Eileen M. 56 240 Flag

    May 20, 2013

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Two Methods to Keep Cats Out of Planters

    By Eileen M. 56 240

    1. Pine cones - Lots and lots of pine cones. The stickier the better! Just put them all around the stem(s) and fill the pot with them. You can water through them, and cats will not have anything to do with them. They will eventually disintegrate and you can replace them with new ones.

    2. Plastic Garden Fencing - Cut a piece of plastic garden fencing (in your choice of colors) the diameter of your pot or planter, plus a couple of edges. Weave a few narrow bamboo plant stakes, or skewers, or twigs through the edges, and then staple the woven fence fabric to the edges of the pot, but only about 2/3 of the way around. You can gently lift up one edge to plant little plants, or plant seeds, and they will grow through the fence weave fabric. I've even replanted a second year by poking holes with a skewer and dropping the seeds in, smushing the soil back over the top and watering.

    Source: Absolute frustration with the neighborhood furrrrrs using my big pots as littler boxes.

    By Eileen from Elk Grove, CA

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    Tip: Lemon and Orange Peels for Keeping Cats Out

    By Jeta 4 1

    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

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    Question: Using Citrus Peels as Cat Repellent

    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.

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    Most Recent Answer

    By Beth 25 1,120 Flag

    July 28, 2011

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Keep Cats From Digging in Garden

    By Gail 4 6

    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

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    Tip: Protect Garden Plants With Wire Basket

    By leanne chaisson 44 84

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Cats Using Shed as Litter Box

    By cats rule 1

    I am looking for solutions to stop outdoor cats from using my outdoor plastic shed as their litter box.

    By cats rule

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    Most Recent Answer

    By Louise B. 6 2,509 Flag

    April 24, 2013

    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!

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of the Flower Garden

    By Achongolele M. 1

    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

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    Most Recent Answer

    By DeBushe 19 163 Flag

    April 22, 2013

    Get a good squirt gun and fill it with water. Squirt the cat every time it comes into your garden or near your potted plants. It won't take long for kitty to decide your yard is not worth getting wet.

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    Tip: Wood Kabobs for Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    By webduck 3 2

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Chicken Wire to Keep Cats Out Of Garden

    By Cheryl Doi 18 4

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Cats Using Garden Beds As A Litter Box

    By linn 56 50

    How can I safely repel cats from using my garden as a litter box?

    Hardiness Zone: 2a

    By Linn from Halifax, Nova Scotia

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    Most Recent Answer

    By Darlene 3 Flag

    July 17, 2010

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Use Mesh in Garden to Keep Cats Away

    In the past we have had a problem with the neighborhood cats using our garden as a liter box. We devised a way to stop them from digging.

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    Tip: Tips for Keeping Cats Away

    By ItalianPear 1 12

    Here is what I've found to deter cats from areas they are unwanted and prevent spraying.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Flower Box

    By Gerry S. 1

    How do you prevent cats from using your flower boxes as litter boxes?

    By Gerry S.

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By cathy 2 61 Flag

    April 26, 2014

    Sprinkle used coffee grounds around liberally. Cats do not like the smell of coffee. It will also smell good.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Flower Garden

    By Lorraine 20 96

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By JazzyMe 12 79 Flag

    April 18, 2012

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Planters

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By Linda 1 86 Flag

    April 22, 2013

    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.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Decorative Deterrents for Cats

    By Chantal 18 35

    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.

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    Tip: Pine Cones for Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    By Chantal 18 35

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

    By Tina 3 6

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out Of Flowerbeds

    By jesus 2

    How do I stop cats from going in the garden?

    Hardiness Zone: 6a

    By Jesus from Elizabethtown, PA

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By Agnes 1 Flag

    April 19, 2011

    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.


    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Cats Using Vegetable Beds for Litter Box

    By Vinny 1

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By lori 2 7 Flag

    April 12, 2011

    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

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Flower Beds

    By lois whiteman 1

    How can I keep cats out of garden beds?

    Hardiness Zone: 5a

    By Lois from Toledo, OH

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Most Recent Answer

    By Debra 28 8 Flag

    April 11, 2011

    Sprinkle hot pepper on ground. Also Moth Balls work well and also spraying ammonia on the ground. I like the hot pepper myself. Good Luck and God Bless!

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Jacks and Toy Tops to Discourage Digging

    By Robyn Fed 394 1,240

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Stopping Cats from Spoiling Garden

    By Judith 1

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Will Citrus Peel Used to Discourage Cats Attract Ants?

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats Out of Garden

    I want to keep cats off my garden and stop them from coming into my house.

    By Lindy from Wolves

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Keeping Cats From Using Garden as Cat Box

    By linn 56 50

    Are there any non lethal ways to deter neighbours cat from doing its business in my nice gardens! argh!

    By linn from Canada

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Tip: Chicken Wire to Protect Your Garden from Cats

    By Cheryl Doi 18 4

    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.

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    Citronella Lights to Deter Unwanted Cats

    By carol MacDonald 5 2

    If you are having trouble with unwanted cats in your garden or around the perimeter of your house it can be fixed. I bought a bag of citronella T-lights and put them around in the yard and the cats don't like the smell. I also had a huge problem with carpenter bees in my Gazebo and did the same thing there and we didn't have any this year.

    By ylvasteve from Waterloo, Ontario

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    Tip: Preventing Cats from Littering Your New Plants

    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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    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?

    Thank you!

    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.

    By Thrifty_Fun
    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
    By rockytopp61
    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)

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    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. They are stepping all over my pansies and in the spring they step all over the new flowers. Someone suggested moth balls but i am not sure if that is true or not. I just want to keep them out of my garden.

    Hardiness Zone: 8a

    Tina Butler from Mesquite, TX

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 02/27/2006
    Try lemon or orange peels. Cats dislike like citrus. However, this method may only last for a limited time as the citrus peel decomposed.
    By Paul Oakenfold (Guest Post)
    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 03/07/2006
    Go to The Vinegar Pages at to find a remedy for this and other problems.

    One reader's tip, "I have poured vinegar around my children's sand box to keep cats from using it as their litter box. About every two months I reapply just to be sure. It has worked so far."

    By gator10tx

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    I'm sure you've been asked this question a hundred times already... but here goes anyhow. First off, I live in a duplex with a fenced-in back yard. I am fortunate in the fact that I have some space in which to garden for veggies and have a nice flower patch along with a few rose bushes.

    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 (except for Bogie, of course). Other than spraying them with the water hose when I see them, do you have any other suggestions that would be workable in keeping the cats out of my yard?

    Hardiness Zone: 7a

    Thank you and God bless...
    Mary from Redding, CA

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 04/21/2006
    I have kept cats out of my garden by using lemon, grapefruit and orange peels and black or crushed red peppers. I put these around areas that I don't want animals to get into.
    By Kmcl59
    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 04/24/2006
    We have tried putting plastic forks in the ground around the flowers. Handle side in. When they step on them....they don't like it! It won't keep them out of your whole yard, but it will keep them out of flowerbeds. You could also try wooden skewers. Good luck!
    By jillian357

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    How can I keep the neighboor's cat out of my garden?

    Hardiness Zone: 8a

    Windella from Pasadena, CA

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 05/18/2006
    My Uncle in England swears by mothballs. He has one placed about every square yard. Uncle Maurice is very meticulous and wouldn't do this if it didn't work.
    Good Luck,
    in South Korea at the moment.
    By Vanessa (Guest Post)
    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 05/18/2006
    Please don't use mothballs as they are toxic to humans and pets and don't work anyway
    By srarlite. (Guest Post)
    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 05/19/2006
    jillian357-that is just EVIL! Wooden skewers? Plastic forks? I don't think maiming an innocent, exploring animal is a very good thing for anyone to do. That's really terrible.
    Spray the cat with a hose whenever you notice it. It will make it mad and after a few times will go somewhere else.
    By (Guest Post)

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    One of the things I have done, is to put regular balloons out in the garden. The cats will pop them and then run away. After a few weeks of tying balloons to branches stuck in the ground, or to the plants themselves, substitute the balloons with balls, which do not pop but act as a visual reminder.

    Some cats will not have any problem with popping ballons, but most will decide to leave well enough alone. I love cats by the way and I know their behavior, they are adorable, but they love to dig!

    Race Against Thimerosol

    RE: Keeping Cats out of Garden 09/04/2004
    Why not plant some catnip in an area where you would like the cats to hang out? Suggestion; a sunny spot. Cats, like other animals are telepathic. They see whatever you are picturing in your head. If you want the cat to stay out of your garden you have to "Stop" picturing the cat IN your garden. Picture the cat where you want him to be. Pay attention to your thoughts. Good Luck. I'm picturing success for you.
    By kathryn (Guest Post)
    Keeping Cats out of the Garden 04/28/2005
    If neighborhood stray cats love your garden, sprinkle cayenne pepper or citrus peel pieces throughout the surface. This will not harm them but they'll remember that your garden is no longer their bathroom or playground!
    By Patricia
    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden 04/28/2005
    My cat was invading my neighbor's garden. We both tried different methods to keep her away. I finally kept the cat in the house for two weeks. I figured she would forget after awhile and explore another area. Apparently, it did work since the neighbor no longer saw her there. It wasn't easy to keep her in for two weeks but I felt it was my responsibility to keep her from destroying my neighbors flowers.

    By mkymlp

    Archive: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    By Ellen Brown

    Q: How can I keep the neighbor's cat out of my garden?

    Hardiness Zone: 8a

    Windella from Pasadena, CA

    A: Windella,

    This question really comes up a lot and seems to be a universal problem among gardeners. There are a variety of tactics to keep the neighbor's cats out of the garden. First of all, talk to your neighbors about your concerns. Tell them you don't want their cats ingesting any harmful plants, you want to be able to consume your vegetables without worrying about contamination and you're worried about the safety of backyard birds. If your neighbors seem completely unreasonable, check with your city government about leash laws and make sure your neighbor knows that you will be forced to call animal control if the problem persists.

    Other tactics to try:

    1. Planting a small plot of catnip or cat thyme in a corner of your yard to lure cats away from your garden. Plant it around a small sand box. Cats will always prefer using fine sand to using heavy garden soil. With luck, you can persuade your neighbor to provide an outdoor sandbox in HIS yard instead of yours.

    2. Spread prickly textures around the garden such as pine cones, holly leaves or rock mulch on newly turned over dirt. This will help to keep cats from using your garden soil as a litter box.

    3. Stick disposable plastic forks (tines up) in containers, window boxes or in other areas that cats seem to favor. Just make sure you don't stick these below places where cats can jump down on them from above. You might also try Cat-Scat Mats (available at garden centers). These are mats designed with flexible spikes to keep cats out of your garden without hurting them. You can cut them down to the size you need and most gardeners seem to think they work quite well.

    4. Install motion activated sprinklers, and never miss an opportunity to deter cats with a strong spray from the garden hose.

    5. Spread used tea leaves or citrus peels around plants.

    6. Lay chicken wire down (cats don't like digging in it) or cover plants with wire cages if necessary.

    7. Invest in commercial products like predator repellants or high-frequency sound emitters.

    Good Luck.

    Q: I'm sure you've been asked this question a hundred times already, but here goes anyhow. First off, I live in a duplex with a fenced-in back yard. I am fortunate in the fact that I have some space in which to garden for veggies and have a nice flower patch along with a few rose bushes. 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 (except for Bogie, of course). Other than spraying them with the water hose when I see them, do you have any other suggestions that would be workable in keeping the cats out of my yard?

    Hardiness Zone: 7a

    Thank you and God bless...
    Mary from Redding, CA

    A: Mary,

    First of all, it's unfortunate that your neighbors feel it's okay to let their cats roam freely about the neighborhood. Not only does it put backyard wildlife in jeopardy, but also, it's dangerous for the cats. Fortunately for your neighbors, you're a cat lover. Good fences should make for good neighbors. Since your neighbors are not getting the message, start by asking them for help in keeping the cats out of your garden. Explain that you don't want to worry about their cats ingesting harmful plants and that you worry about being able to consume (and share with your neighbors) any edibles that have been grown in soil contaminated by cat feces (it is dangerous). Maybe you could offer your neighbors a pot of catnip to place in their yard to act as a distraction, or even designate a small spot in your yard (well away from the rest of your beds) for growing catnip, or cat thyme.

    If there are specific areas that cats seem to be favoring in your garden, try spreading chicken wire, pine cones, rock mulch or prickly holly to deter them from scratching and digging. You could also try Cat-Scat mats, available at garden centers, which are mats made with flexible spikes that won't hurt them, but will keep them out of your beds. Disposable plastic forks (tines up) will also work when stuck in pots or around ornamental plants. Just be sure not to place them in areas where cats will jump down and land on them (like below balconies, etc).

    Good Luck!

    About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. <a href="post_request.ldml?email_subject=Gardening">Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


    RE: Trying to keep cats out of the garden

    Mix 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of mustard, with 1 cup hot pepper sauce that contains habanero 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. (07/18/2004)

    By Shirley Mac

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    My mother-in-law used moth balls and the cats hated them. She just spread some around her plants. (06/25/2007)

    By Faye

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    Cats like to dig in freshly turned soil where vegetables and/or flowers are planted. I sprinkle red pepper all around. If it rains I re-sprinkle. It may take four to six different sprinklings of red pepper, but it works like a charm. Cats hate it and stay away from it. I think it works with dogs, too. (05/04/2008)

    By Nancy.

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    I used a mixture of black peppercorns, cayenne, red pepper flakes, curry powder, black pepper, chili powder, and dry mustard, I sprinkled it throughout my garden (veggie garden) and so far it is working great, and it's even working to deter the horsehair worms. (05/26/2008)

    By Janet

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    Our neighbourhood is infested with stray cats that were constantly spraying our doors and basement windows. Our whole house reeked of cat urine. We started sprinkling paprika (about once a week) and now I don't even see them in our yard. It's not quite as harsh as cayenne if anyone is concerned with hurting cats. (07/14/2008)

    By wontonamera

    RE: Keeping Cats out of the Garden

    You can also use empty clear bottles and fill them up with water and I don't know why it works, but the cats don't like their reflection or something and it scares them away. (02/23/2009)

    By Megan

    Archive: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    How can you keep cats out of the garden?

    Hardiness Zone: 3a

    By Dorothy M. from Derwood, MD


    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I've heard that cayenne pepper works. I think it has to be reapplied periodically, especially after it rains. It is not as expensive if you buy it in the bulk section. Rocks can help too, since it isn't "dig friendly" for cats.
    The catnip mentioned below is a good idea. My neighbor cats go straight for that. (10/26/2009)

    By DavidBH

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I've posted this before. You mix, all dry ingredients. 1 part ground red pepper, 1 part black pepper, 1part that chunky ground pepper they sprinkle on pizza, then add about 1/3 cup dry hot mustard. This usually makes about 3 cups. Then put in an old shaker bottle. Sprinkle around plants and on top of walls and fences. It works amazingly well. I water really well and do it. I usually have to redo it every few months. They get use to the peppers being around and don't bother it for awhile.

    Don't feel bad and tell your neighbors that when you garden where cats and dogs have used your yard as a toilet, you can get parasites from them. It's a health hazard. I've been treated 2x and it's not fun. You should never have to deal with someone else's pet wastes.

    I usually warn them if they don't do something about it, what I put down will not be fun for them. It doesn't hurt them, but it does give them something to think and sneeze about. They have very sensitive noses and can smell it from a distance. I have people who use my yard and parkway as their personal toilet for their dogs and it is so unfair. I shouldn't have to clean up and repair or replace my grass or plants because they behave as if it's their right to ruin my personal property because they are too lazy and irresponsible to respect others rights. (10/29/2009)

    By c t

    Archive: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    How do you keep neighbourhood cats out of the garden? It's fenced and they keep coming over.

    Hardiness Zone: 7a

    By shi from Ireland


    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    My sister in law is allergic to cats and gets very upset at the neighbor's cats coming over the fence. Squirting water when she's outside is her default defense.

    There's not a lot you can do; if you do something in one spot, they'll come to another. At one time all of us, people and animal, roamed the curves of the earth without sidewalk or fence or road and the only paths were the paths that made sense. I don't think our fences make sense to cats. (04/05/2010)

    By PIKKA

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    Catnip Idea: Plant some Catnip in an area of your yard far away from your garden. The catnip will attract the cats to the area and they will start hanging out near the catnip and away from your garden!

    Other ideas: Get yourself a dog or rescue a large male outdoor cat from the pound, Cats and dogs are territorial and they don't like other cats coming into their yard. But a rescued dog or a cat will keep these cats from you yard.

    I would talk to the cat's owner about the problem. If you don't know who the owner is, you can attach a note to their collar. If the cats don't have collar, buy a clip-on collar at the dollar store then put a little note in a baggie on the collar.

    I have an indoor-outdoor cat and if he ever bothered a neighbor I would definitely want to be told about it. My biggest fear is a neighbor hurting my cat (because he digs somewhere or "act's like a cat"). So if they took the time to tell me what my cat was doing to upset them, I would be extremely grateful!

    Here's a wonderful Chemical Free Option: $50:

    They have several other cat repellent products, too:

    Scare-crow Sprinkler: $75:

    Also: Because Cats and Deer are "prey"animals (meaning they are hunted by other animals) "prey" animals are afraid of any animals who hunt them. You can buy the powdered synthetic urine of coyotes, raccoons and foxes. It also comes in pellet form. Pellets last longer and can be placed into a leg from a pair of pantyhose to last even longer. Check out these sites:

    Wildlife and Animal Control:

    Fox Urine Powder:

    Coyote Urine Granules:

    Formula made especially for repelling cats:

    Warning: Don't listen to anyone who says to put pepper-flakes or any type of hot-pepper in your garden, because animals can get this pepper into their eyes and this has caused some animals to dig out their eyes because of the intense pain. Also the wind may blow the pepper into you own eyes!

    Keeping birds away from your garden: (04/05/2010)

    By Cyinda

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I have a neighbor that swears by filling 1 gallon milk jugs with water and setting them in her flower beds. Don't know how well it works but she has done it for years. (04/06/2010)

    By DeannaB123

    Archive: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I was reading on my cat calendar how cats hate the smell of chamomile and the smell of marigolds and if you plant those in your garden the cats won't dig in the garden much.

    I was thinking if you were to put one of those air freshener things that go off on their own. If the cat sees it and sees that it can't predict when the air freshener spray will go off, I doubt it would ever go near that garden again. It kind of depends on how smart the cat is, but if you set a simple alarm clock to go off while the cat is there or hide a walky-talky in the garden and the cat doesn't know where the sound comes from then, it will stay away too.

    I love cats - they are smart and they know how to take naps. Mine don't like any kind of spraying noise. If they hear it, I suppose they might think it is a hissing snake or another hissing cat.

    By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN


    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    Two things not to use are mothballs and black pepper (the pepper is fatal to cats). (06/17/2010)

    By Maryeileen

    Archive: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    <div align="right">

    New neighbors moved in next door and have a cat. I have 3 dogs. My dogs are either in my backyard (walled), or if I take them out they are on leashes. In our community not only do dogs have to be on leashes when they are out, but also cats.

    Their cat is always out and sleeps in my bushes. The problem is that this cat also goes into my flower beds and flattens them. I tried talking to the people, but to no avail and I really don't want to call the HOA and complain.

    I was not home one day and the cat was in my silk tree in the backyard. He could have come down on his own, but the ten year old decided to go up there and get it. Of course, in the process he broke a branch, but no one told me. I found out when I was in my backyard and the tree didn't look right. The branch was left hanging. When I started to pull it out I realized how big the branch was.

    There have been newsletters from the HOA instructing the owners of cats that they are not to be left out wandering. In the past there was a problem with cats not only in the gardens, but also jumping on top of peoples cars and scratching them. I just replanted my front yard garden and every morning when I go to work, I find the cat sleeping on my flowers. Is there anything I can spray around the area, so as not to harm the cat. Someone told me to spray ammonia because they don't like the smell. Any ideas. Thank you.

    By Joanne from Las Vegas, NV


    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    A friend had problems with feral cats in and around her flowers and sheds. Moth balls sprinkled around flowers and under the sheds kept them away. Good luck! (12/03/2010)

    By suem1009

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    There are both sprays and granules on the market for such a problem. You could also go to a sporting goods store and buy fox urine that would work because a fox is a predator of a cat. You might try a hav-a hart trap and catch the cat and bring him/her to the pound each time you catch it and see how these neighbors like paying to get their cat back each time they find them at the pound! (12/03/2010)

    By lgsiy

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I also recommend using a spray to keep the cats away. I think the name of one is "Kitty Be Gone". I do strongly disagree with the trapping of the cats and repeated trips to the pound firstly because doing anything to get a reaction out of someone is only going to cause further stress and problems down the road and secondly it is neither the fault of the cats or the children for their lack of supervision.

    I suggest you then take the time to develop a relationship with your neighbors, by getting to know them and opening lines of communication. You will then know how to approach any issues that may come up in the future and they will know how to take you as well. Neighbors with hard feelings between them is never a winning situation and those hard feelings have a tendency blow up and into horrible feuds. I wish you the best of luck. (12/04/2010)

    By lostinthe

    RE: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

    I have kept cats out of my garden by using lemon, grapefruit, and orange peels. Cats do not like the smell of citrus and will stay away from it. (12/05/2010)

    By sameoleme

    Home and Garden Pest Control CatsJuly 15, 2011
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