I like cats–I really do. If my spouse wasn’t allergic to them, we’d definitely have a couple. However, one of the neighbor’s cats has decided the square-foot piece of garden immediately next to my front door is the world’s best litter box. I’ve been interested, then, in ways to dissuade cats from digging around in the garden. Here’s are some techniques my research has turned up so far, but I’d love to hear your ideas—especially inexpensive ones—on how to keep cat poop out of the spots where I might want to grow food.
Water. Set up a motion-detecting sprinkler system. If there’s motion in the garden, the sprinklers will come on. Of course, you’re going to want a system that you can turn off easily–the computerized sprinkler system at the house we rent is not one of those–so that you’re not drenched when you work in the garden.
Dense vegetation. Plant flowers, or vegetables that are OK with being crowded, close together. Many cats don’t like to squeeze between leaves (though some will do so happily). As I’ve learned recently, an open patch of soil = great place for cat poop.
Crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper. Apparently cats don’t like strong smells like these, so you can spread ground hot peppers around the border of the garden, or even on spots within the garden.
Pinecones or stones. If there’s a spot the cat likes to target in the garden, place some pinecones there to discourage them from inhabiting that space. Pinecones are uncomfortable to walk on—or, I imagine, squat on—and stones, if placed in the ground a bit, make digging difficult.
Give in and build a cat garden. Set aside a small portion of the garden for the cat to use. Plant catnip, cat thyme, and cat mint. I don’t think this is an option for me, as I’m not about to put a welcome mat for the cat right by the front door. That said, maybe cultivating a cat garden in another part of the yard might lure the cat from the front door.
Or, do the opposite: plant an anti-cat garden. Apparently cats don’t like lavender, geraniums, or rue, a—like red and cayenne pepper—the scents are too strong. With my luck, my neighbor’s cat—or cats, I’m really not sure—would be lavender lovers, but it’s worth a try, I think.
Spiked mats. You can see one type here: Cat Scat Mats. These are mats featuring small plastic spikes that stick up about an inch or so from the ground. Alas, these mats will also discourage you from walking barefoot into the garden. (But hey–you’re probably not walking into your garden barefoot if, like me, there’s a half-hidden stash of cat poop in it.)
If you’ve had this problem, how did you solve it? (Please tell me there’s a solution, as I don’t like welcoming guests with cat poop by the front door.)