We had a massive problem with cats using our freshly dug herb patch to do their business, so we have found a few options that actually work!
The best way to stop a cat from using your backyard as their toilet is to introduce a smell that is unpleasant to them. Be this in the form of citrus, strong herbs or even cinnamon, the scent will act as a natural deterrent to felines in the area.
There are many other alternatives to try if your offending cat is not deterred by odor alone.
Ways To Prevent Cats Using Your Garden As A Toilet
It is important to note that our little feline friends are not to be harmed by any of these options. In fat one or two of them may cause the cats to fall in love with you and your garden, just not the pooping part.
1. Using A Physical Barrier
Using barriers is a humane way to stop cats from using a particular bed as a toilet. We don’t want to cover up our flowers forever and so use this on freshly planted or sown beds. We use a hoop system with chicken wire. It is great for us as our free range chickens will also dig through freshly turned soil.
A great option for our veg patches too. Really if you are planting out older, more mature seedlings they can survive a little digging but this is for areas you have turned and are waiting to plant into or ones with seeds sown.
2. Applying Scents – Citrus Peel
Recent studies show that cats have an even more highly developed sense of smell than dogs. Meaning that they can be greatly deterred from pooping in an area due to aroma alone. Scents like cinnamon, garlic and even chili can be used in a liquid spray to form a perimeter around your garden. The one drawback is it needs to reapplied quite regularly and especially after rainfall.
Use a few teaspoons of chili powder or cinnamon in a hand held spritz bottle. Walk around and spray to form a cat repellent barrier. We have used this to deter rabbits and cats and use it more locally around flowerbeds. Try it in conjunction with one or two of these other ideas.
3. Using Strong Hormones
This one is a bit tricky as to how to word it. So here goes.
Using human, especially male urine to form a screen around your garden to deter cats is very successful. The aroma may not be noticeable to human noses but it certainly is to felines. It is the cat equivalent of marking your territory and as such they will avoid entering your area at all.
However there are drawbacks to doing a widdle in your own garden! So to avoid any public indecency orders you can use a bottle and then spray it around the garden. Making sure to thoroughly cleanse the bottle afterwards!
4. Using Sticks Or Holly Branches
The image above is of our freshly turned and planted garlic bed. It is our overwinter crop and therefore pretty much the only bed that has been freshly dug. making it the perfect location for the neighbors cat to use as a toilet. You have to fully load the bed with holly branches and this was our best option that year as we had some freshly cut from an overgrown holly hedge.
I wish I had a camera to hand the first time I saw the cat trying to tip toe across the bed and give up!
One word of warning about using holly branches is that although they are thoroughly compostable the actual leaves take a bit longer and the sharp edges will stay sharp for longer than you may think! Getting pricked by your own cat protection device is slightly frustrating.
5. Catnip As A Distraction To The Cats
If you plant up catnip in your garden (here’s a full guide to help) then your cat and the neighboring cats will all be attracted to this area. It can have a soporific effect or a feline version of a ‘high’. This really will distract the cats and draw them away from areas you wish to remain poop free.
It does seem counter intuitive to grow something to attract cats, however catnip can form a part of your herbaceous border and give a lot of benefit to pollinators and those who love flowers. It forms a sea of purple to blue color and is rather attractive in it’s own right.
6. Using Banana Peel To Deter Cats
Some cats find the scent of bananas to be really off putting. It is a lot stronger for cats than for humans and they don’t like it when the peel is getting a little rotted. This works well for putting into pot plants especially. If you have decking or a patio with pots that cats keep digging up to use as a toilet, think about putting some banana peels on the top.
There is no harm with using banana in your garden and the potassium can be beneficial to some plants as well. If you think of the banana peel as a mulch it will also help to reduce water loss as well as keeping the soil well fed.
7. Motion Sensor Water Pistol
This is a less humane version as the cats will end up a little scared. However it is not cruel as such as they will quickly learn to avoid coming into the firing range. So it is all about how you position the water pistol and make sure to keep checking in on the results as you may have missed a pathway that they can get through!
You can check the availability and price of the above model at amazon here.
8. Planting Strong Smelling Herbs
Tactical planting is used to form a living screen to protect your garden. Cats are put off by strong smells. Therefore planting a hedgerow of lavender or rosemary will make a big difference to the number of cats entering via that route. If you want to learn more about growing enough lavender for a hedge, have a look at an older article I have written here. Alternatively rosemary works very well, but it can get a little too high, but have a read here about ways to grow rosemary for free.
We also grow curry plants and these actually do smell incredibly strongly of curry. hey really don’t taste like curry though! A lovely grey foliage with bright yellow flowers it will put off the most desperate cat from using your garden as a toilet! For more on growing curry plants have a read of an article I have recently published here.
9. Cover Up The Sandpit Or Play Area Every Night
This is a must as even the strongest and most robust preventative won’t stop a stray cat from using your sandpit or play area as a toilet. Lockdown saw a massive increase in the number of close neighbors who had pet cats and we were nearly overrun at nights.
Conclusion For Preventing Cats Pooping In Your Yard
It will take a number of measures and be sure to remember that there is always one cat in your neighborhood that will buck a trend. They will not hate bananas or chili and hate catnip, so make sure to always close up the kids sandbox or the use barriers if you have freshly dug soil.
Toxoplasmosis can be passed to humans from infected cats via their poop. So be careful out there and make sure to check before your start digging.
What Next & Further Reading
- Catnip Vs Catmint Important Differences and Uses Just to show that these are two different herbs and catnip is attractive to felines, whereas catmint is not and will not be effective in preventing cats pooping in your backyard.
- Deer Resistant Herbs – 10 Of The Best I want to highlight that the same tactics are used here with your garden planning. If you have recently moved to an area do talk with neighbors before planning your front yard and put in some natural barriers to these cute and lovable animals.
- Rabbit Resistant Herbs To Grow Today I figure this may also be a useful article. If you have one pest you may ahve another!