Cat and dog in leaves

CATS IN THE GARDEN

04/06/14

Outdoor cats love to frolic in neighbourhood gardens, often much to the dismay of the homeowner. Although seeing your favourite flowers or herb garden in disarray is upsetting, there are health hazards to consider too. Cats are carnivores and their feces can contain parasites and several unwanted strains of bacteria that are harmful to humans. For health reasons alone, it is best to try to keep the neighbourhood cats out of your garden.

Below are several environmentally and animal-friendly solutions that will help to deter even the most determined cat.

Make your garden an uncomfortable spot to play

Cats prefer to walk on soft soil and will avoid prickly surfaces. Make your garden beds into a less inviting litter box by:

  • Covering the garden in twigs and pushing pine cones and other prickly yard trimmings into the soil around your plants.
  • Laying chicken wire over the flower beds. Alternately, reuse the mesh produce bags from onions or potatoes by spreading them on your garden and anchoring them with twigs.
Use scent
  • Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender, pennyroyal, coleus canina and lemon thyme, so planting some of these in your garden may help to repel cats. Also, orange and lemon peels, oil of citronella, cayenne pepper, lavender oil, peppermint oil, pipe tobacco, coffee grounds, tea leaves, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil have all been credited with keeping cats away from gardens.
  • The scent of human hair also deters cats. Empty your brushes onto the garden and reclaim your territory!
  • If your unwanted visitor has a favourite location that they use for a natural litterbox, wash the area well with a hose to remove the scent. Cats tend to choose the same spot repeatedly, so removing their previous stake on your garden will go a long way towards preventing reoccurrences.
Create an outdoor litter box

Cats love mint, honeysuckle and catnip. Plant a small, separate cat-friendly garden that includes a variety of these plants and place a small sandbox nearby. You will still have to clean up and properly dispose of the cat’s waste, but it may help protect your flowers.

Make cat-away spray

Mix up a batch of environmentalist David Suzuki’s home remedy of ‘cat-away spray’: “Combine 1 teaspoon of black pepper, dry mustard & cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove. Fill to the top with water and apply to your garden beds.”

Use motion detectors

You can purchase motion detectors that set off a burst of sound beyond the hearing range of humans to startle cats. Cats will eventually relate the unpleasant noice to the location, deterring them from entering your garden.

Use water sprinklers

Motion activated water sprinklers are also effective in deterring cats as they do not like to get wet.