Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

Cat in the GardenI have been inundated with requests for tips on keeping cats out of the garden. Here are my personal favorites:

For some years, I had big problems with cats in the flowerbeds. These days our dog, Harry, takes care of the problem, but before he decided to come live with us I developed some guerrilla warfare tactics that worked for me.

Cover A Cat's Favorite Hideouts

If you watch the areas that are disturbed (ravaged is more like it), they are often in a sheltered spot where the dirt is exposed. Cover the area with mulch, the pokier the better. Eucalyptus mulch has a bitter smell that cats dislike, so it's a good choice.

You can also try laying a piece of bubble wrap on the spot. When the cat steps on the bubble wrap it crackles and sometimes pops. That gets his attention.

Use Smell Against Them – Keeping Cats out of your Yard

Cats hate citrus. Using aversion as a tactic, I save my orange and lemon peels and sprinkle them around the garden. I select spots that I know cats like and entry points to the yard. I score the peels to expose the aromatic oils, sometimes even zesting some peels and sprinkling the zest around. I prefer this to using commercially available animal repellents.

Another good tactic is to splash vinegar around the edges of your flowerbeds and repeat after every heavy rain.

Make the Point Stick

I also like is to lay strips of painter's tape (The blue kind is economical and the least sticky – you want him to be able to pull the tape off once he leaves.) along the ground, sticky side up. I use a number of lengths of about six inches to a foot long. When the cat walks in that area, the tape sticks to his fur or feet and that's usually the end of the problem. With rain and dew creating damaging moisture, the strips have to be replaced regularly. If wind is a problem, tack the ends down with a little soil.

Going Out With a Bang

If your feline nemesis has a favorite spot in your flowerbeds, you can lay a trap for him. I've never done this, but I've heard that it works.

Dig a hole where the offending cat usually beds down for a nap. Blow up a balloon and place it in the hole. Cover the balloon with soil. . . not too deeply; less than an inch of dirt over the top should do it. When the cat starts his scratching routine, he pops the balloon and scares the holy jumping Moses out of himself.

The good news is that once a cat gets the idea that he's not welcome, he's gone for a while, maybe even the whole season.

These are gentle measures that work if you give them time. I love cats and feel that there are enough hazards out there for them without getting rough. Screaming at them and waving your arms doesn't help either (I know). They just wait to strike until you're not around.

Special Note: If you are growing catnip, build a mesh cage for it. In my experience, there is no measure that will keep cats out. They will take a stroll through perdition itself to get to it.


  1. Anonymous2:44:00 PM

    As far as "digging" they are probably using the area for their kitty pan! And you're right about the catnip! Grow it where they can't find it!

  2. Anonymous2:23:00 PM

    Red pepper flakes

  3. Anonymous6:03:00 PM

    Ultrasonic deterrents are a very effective option.

  4. Anonymous8:37:00 PM

    my solution to the possibility of cat poop in the "pantry", [garden], is chicken wire. it's the only cheap and 100% fool-proof remedy i've found. plant your seeds and then lay a length of chicken wire over the area. weigh the corners down with bricks or stones. if this is an area of above-ground food, [tomatoes, herbs...] or flowers, leave it down for the growing season. if this is an area with underground foods, such as carrots, which must be thinned and dug up regularly, lift the chicken wire when the plants are well established. in our neighbourhood the cats have all found their favourite "digs" by then. i always keep my trusty squirt bottle, [water only, please!] with me when gardening to discourage any interlopers; so satisfying, so cruelty-free.
    at the end of the season roll up the chicken wire and store it for next season.
    and yes, we're cat-lovers; we have two beautiful, cuddly indoor cats.

  5. That is just mean. Cats rule the world and we should accept it. in fact, instead of beds of flowers and all that, one should grow catnip, cat grass and kale (my kitty cat loves kale)

    1. I'm with you, Oliver!

    2. I'm with you, too Oliver. Imagine the poor, sleepy cat popping that balloon? Scare the bejesus out of the poor thing.

  6. That is just mean. Cats rule the world and we should accept it. Instead of beds with roses and all that, one should plant catnip, cat grass and kale (my kitty cat loves kale)

  7. Cats may rule the world, but when you're planning on using your fresh organic basil in your salad and it smells like cat urine, it's not nearly as fun to garden anymore. Cat feces and dog as well, can contain harmful bacteria and viruses than can make people seriously sick. I have cats as well, next year, I was thinking to try the chicken wire thing and perhaps plant a patch of catnip just for them to enjoy, maybe then, they will stay out of my stuff.

    1. Yup, I don't even own cats and I have poop and pee everywhere! Maybe it's a matter for animal control, in our case.

  8. I hate this stray cat that won't stop going to the toilet in my climbers containers, so today I put gravel on top.and hopefully that will work.

  9. i have a mystery cat using my herb patch as a toilet. daily i am cleaning up poop... on top if it he marks his territory at my back door.... i don't have pets... I would if i wanted them... i do not appreciate it when my toddler plays in the herb patch as he loves to garden.... it's seriously dangerous to children. this cat better not let me catch him...
    i put loads of pepper out there today in the hope this will discourage him.... fingers crossed.


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