Cats Getting My New Guinea Impatiens

Q:I live in Canada but the weather would be close to Seattle's. I have a north facing brick planter on the front of the house that doesn't get much direct sun. I planted New Guinea Impatiens last year and some of it survived but some just disappeared and I think it was local cat that loves to dig in the garden year round. Is there anything that I can plant that the cat wouldn't go for or how do I keep it - the cat - out of the garden?

I replanted twice last year before I realized what was going on.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Thanks,
Jane from Richmond B.C. Canada

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A:Jane,

Don't let the neighbor's cats keep you from planting what you want to plant. Cats love digging in the soft soil found in beds, planters and window boxes almost as much as we gardeners do. Many chemical products can harm your plants and don't tend to be very effective anyway, so your best bet is probably to create a physical deterrent. A cheap solution might be to try inserting plastic forks (tines up) into your planter. If you want to invest about $15.00, a lot of people have success with a product called Cat Scat mats. They are grids of flexible plastic spikes that you insert just below the surface of the soil. They usually come in sets of 5. Each mat is about 6" by 8" and can be cut down into several smaller squares. I like them because you can use them over and over again. Once a cat (dog, rabbit, etc.) learns to avoid a certain bed or planter, you can easily move the mats to a new spot. The spikes are harmless, but cats don't like the prickly teeth. Just make sure you avoid placing anything sharp in places where kids play or animals jump down from a height to access.

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Another method that has worked well for me personally, is to devote a corner of a bed or plant a small planter with catnip or catmint where they can dig and roll to their hearts content. This usually serves as enough of a distraction to keep them out of other areas of the garden.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. 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 http://www.sustainable-media.com

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March 17, 20060 found this helpful

If you can strip the area down to the bare earth, go to the hardware store and purchase some chicken wire so that you have a piece (or pieces) large enough to cover the earth. Then, use wire cutters to trim out holes where you will plant your flowers. (If you plant from seeds, you won't even need to do that.) After you turn the dirt, and get it ready for planting, put the wire on the surface and plant the plants (or seeds) through the holes. If you don't like the look of the wire (which the plants will cover soon), you can paint it to match the dirt; or cover with a thin layer of mulch. It should last years.

This will keep the cats from digging to use your planter as their cat box. If they just like laying in there, you can try cuttings from a rose bush, mothballs, pieces cut from fragrant soap (like Irish Spring), or roll up the scraps cut from the chicken wire into prickly balls and put them in the favorite spots.

If you actually see them going in, buy a good squirt gun. Won't hurt them a bit, but sure does repel them!

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April 21, 20060 found this helpful

Greetings once again Ellen...

I just sent in a request as to what to do about cats in my garden before reading this excerpt in your newsletter. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated though in regards to getting rid of the neighbor's cats without hurting them.

Thanks again and God bless...

Mary M.

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