Garden Struggles: Neighborhood Cats In The Garden

By Amy Grant | July 15, 2020
Image by Elenakirey
by Amy Grant
July 15, 2020

“I tawt I taw a puddy tat”¦I did, I did!”

Let me just preface what will surely be a tirade by saying I love animals of all types. I’ve owned dogs, cats, fish, and amphibians and, if I could, I would have more critters living under my roof. That said, I have a bone to pick with cat owners. It’s a small bone; don’t worry, it won’t stick in your throat. It’s about cats using my garden as a toilet.

Neighborhood Cats in the Garden

Here’s the thing, once I was just like you. I had a cat that absolutely insisted it must go outside (or I wouldn’t get any sleep). So outside it went and everything went swimmingly, for the most part. With the exception of the sleepless nights looking for my adventurous feline who happened to get locked in the neighbor’s garage or shed, and the time he came home with a shredded ear from what I still don’t know, or the numerous helpless birds or field mice gifted me, everything was copacetic.

The best thing about the cat going out was that I rarely had to clean a litter box. I closed my eyes to where he was going, not in my garden anyway. Now that I’ve come clean, I would say that Karma really is a b—-h. My cat passed away some years ago and has been “replaced” with several neighborhood cats who like to hang around my yard, and most especially the garden. Now, I DO know where they go to the bathroom, and I also know that they like to scratch around my tender new plants to the point of digging them up.

I also know that at least one of them doesn’t bother to bury his business, as I have had the unfortunate experience of hand weeding (without a glove mind you) and coming up with a fistful of poop. I know. It’s my punishment. It’s payback time. However you would like to put it, it’s my turn.

Got a cats in garden problem too? These garden struggles are real – more like really annoying! So how do I deal with cats in the garden? Passive aggressively. I learn the cats’ names, pet them and give them treats, and then I gripe about it in a blog post. The thing is I really love cats. But if they start killing the birds, it’s gonna be war.

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  • Judy Predmore
    Comment added August 15, 2020Reply

    I too seem to have a stray cat problem occasionally.
    My best remedy is to clean it up and rake the soil back in place.
    Here's the secret: I take undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle and thoroughly saturate the soil the cat disturbed and surrounding pathway, edging, etc careful not to spray on any plants.
    It works wonders!

  • Tessee King
    Comment added August 1, 2020Reply

    I discovered by accident that flashing solar lights deter pests. Get those colour changing lights or a flickering light to deter deer and rabbits - you can buy special pest control solar lights which might be more reliable for the most determined deer - it is the randomness of the pattern that scares them - but any will do. Cats too will be "disturbed" by a solar light display. They like the anonymity of the dark to do their business. Putting lights in the border or the bed will not only make a feature of your garden, it will keep them away from it in a totally eco way - no chemicals, no harm to the cats. It looks pretty too!

    Also, if you have your own cats - they won't be bothered by the lights as they will become used to them over time but it will deter "stranger cats".

  • Amy Miller
    Comment added July 19, 2020Reply

    Plastic forks around yer plants works yes I garden yes I have indoor outdoor catssss

  • Rosalie Hailey
    Comment added July 18, 2020Reply

    I love it. Have had many cats. All were indoor cats with litter boxes,used almost all the time. But sickness or orneriness happens. Our last cat was an outdoor cat who usually went in the woods. But I brought in bales of pine straw because I loved the aroma when the hot sun was upon it.BUT then Mittens: she liked it for guess what? You got it Her personal bath room. This story has a sad ending. A coyote killed her one night. She now has flowers growing upon her residence.

  • Flinch
    Comment added July 17, 2020Reply

    Thanks for your article on cats in the garden!

    A free, natural, non-chemical trick I use to stop cats digging up seedlings that I've just planted is to spear a few sticks into the ground (about pencil thickness) and make it so they're sticking out at different angles.

    Since cats seek the path of least resistance, the idea is to make it more difficult for them to use that patch of soil than somewhere else. I've found it works best when you make it so the top of the sticks end around the height of the cat's head (10-20cm). They see this as an obstacle and it also makes it an uncomfortable place to 'go'.

    I usually try to make sure there isn't enough space for them to drag their paws through it in a straight line and since doing this haven't had any seedlings dug up by cats. If you get a really persistent cat, could try loosening some soil nearby to encourage them to go there instead of in the seedlings.

    • claudia
      Comment added July 19, 2020Reply

      Works for me as well with sticks, or simply used matches (the longer kind) stuck into the soil every two inches or so, or stones etc around a seedling until it's large enough. No issues with the kitties whatsoever (I have one outdoor tom and two or three regular visitors).

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