Not always a welcome sight in the veggie garden…
Q: My neighbor has four cats, and they’re constantly coming into my yard to do their business in my vegetable garden. Is there any way to stop that? I’ve talked to my neighbor about it, and she’s even been fined by the township, but it keeps happening.
A: Sounds like you tried the civil approach. That’s the first and best solution — to have the pet-owner keep his or her animals under control.
Cats have no concept of property lines and no doubt like your vegetable garden because the soil makes a soft, warm litter box.
One option is to keep them out of the area, such as by erecting a fence around the whole garden or at least the beds where they’re digging and pooping.
A second option is to repel them. Garden centers sell several animal-repelling products. Most effective in this case might be the urine-based granules or liquids of cat predators, such as coyote or fox. The hard part is applying the repellent regularly enough to keep the scent fresh enough to do its job.
A third option is to make your garden beds less attractive as a potty.
Change the surface from soft to uncomfortable by laying down a mulch of stone or pine needles or possibly shredded hardwood.
Even quicker is laying sheets of chicken wire over the beds before planting. Small plants like carrots and beets can grow right through the openings, while you can cut out circles to accommodate the planting of bigger plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
Finally, cats aren’t big fans of either water or surprises. So if you hook up a motion-activated sprinkler that turns on and starts spraying when a cat enters the sensor field, that should end the unwanted pooping.
Scarecrow (www.contech-inc.com/products/scarecrow) and Havahart Spray Away (www.havahart.com/store/animal-repellents/spray-away) are two brands of these.
I should add that this is more than a nuisance. Cats are carnivores, and their poop can contain disease pathogens that can be passed along to people via garden vegetables and even by using cat poop in compost bins.
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