Neighbors' cats - keeping them out of the yard
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Advice about Pets > Neighbors' cats - keeping them out of the yard
Does anyone have advice on how to keep cats out of my
yard? I don't have any pets & am constantly having to
clean up after neighborhood cats. The smell is really bad
in the planter area around my front porch and it is
becoming very annoying. I am open to any advice.
This column was in a recent SF Chronicle Home and Garden
-- Scatter pinecones in the areas the cats like to visit,
especially under bushes. Ponderosa or other prickly cones
-- Buy a commercial cat repellent and scatter or spray it
in the places where the cats are doing their business.
-- Sprinkle heavy coats of pepper in those areas (I use
about one 4-ounce can) where they are leaving their calling
We were plagued with the same cat problem (have a neighbor
with 6 outdoor cats !) and our yard was a virtual litter
box. We got a motion sensor sprinkler and the cats were
gone in 3 days. I couldn't recommend it enough. We move
the sprinkler around our yard every few months to keep the
cats on their toes but, in general, the cats don't come
around. The one we got was a scarecrow from
www.frontgate.com and cost about $ 100 (you could probably
find something cheaper if you shopped around). Best of
I was reading the
message threads about cats using outdoor gardens/planters as
litter boxes. That was an ongoing problem for me. I solved it
by cutting squares of chicken wire, placing them around my
plants, and putting some soil over top so the wire is not
unsightly. The problem solved without great cost or effort.
The cats try to dig and do not like the feeling of the chicken
wire impeding their "activities". This is a very frustrating
problem and I did not see this particular solution posted.
We just moved to a new home where neighborhood cats have established a habit of
sleeping and urinating on the back porch. Is there a way to: 1. get rid of the smell (we
no longer dare store any items out there) 2. discourage the cats from coming back?
This guy Bill came up with the most effective cat pee smell solution
we have ever seen. http://www.justrite.com/ This stuff works better
than anything in the pet stores (we tried Nature's Miracle and a few
others, but the smells persisted).
Our next door neighbour has 5 cats who use our front steps/porch, front yard-back yard as
toilet. Up to one year ago we had a dog that, while not a cat chaser, would at leat intimidate
the cats enough so that they would stay away. Sadly the dog is now gone and the cats have
taken over. The smell is becoming unbearable and there are feces all over.
Taking to the neighbour is pointless as he is a "peculiar guy" , to say the least. He told us once
that "the cats were here before you" otherwise he does not speak to us...
How do we keep the cats away? I cannot get another dog, I do not want to use chemical
repellants since we have a toddler and I do not want to hurt the cats.
Ground up orange peels supposedly repel cats. Worth a try!
Help...Does anyone know how to prevent cats from using the
garden as a litter box? I have tried citrus and cayenne but
nothing seems to work. Any suggestions helpful.
(Note from moderator: I use red pepper flakes, but need to do it
frequently as it seems to lose potency within 3 or 4 days)
I'm responding to the person seeking advice on discouraging
cats from using the garden as a litter box. I've found that
plastic forks stuck into the ground with the tongs up are
very effective because cats find it impossible to dig around
them. Also I've heard that cats dislike walking on aluminum
foil. The best permanent solution is to plant something
thick where the cats usually dig, possibly something
low-maintainence and drought-resistant. Use the plasic fork
plan while the plants are becoming established. You didn't
say if the cats are your pets, so I don't know if you're
trying to banish them from your garden or just preventing
them from using it as a sandbox. If you want them out of the
garden all together you can purchase a motion sensor
sprinkler that will startle them away. Pepper powders, as
you've found, don't always work. They can also be harmful to
a cat, especially if it gets in a cat's eyes. Good luck.
Check out: http://gardenweb.com
It's a great place for gardening information. It has both
specific plant and location forums. You can use their
search button to search for ''cat'' to get lots of different
ideas about approaches to the problem that you have
Can anyone advise me on how to stop the numerous neighborhood cats
from pooping in my yard? There are a couple of houses that have taken in
strays. One of them reportedly has 25 of them that she feeds on her front
porch. That's wonderful for her except that she hasn't taken the
responsibility to also potty train them. There are several spots in
my yard that they regularly use often trampling my flowers. I need
to make a daily sweep with my trowel and bag. I really got angry
when I found my 2 year old walking around with a turd in his hand!
I bought some "natural" repellant that really didn't work. I don't
want chemicals around my kids but neither do I want cat poop. Please
I have the same problem. My neighbor has 20 cats and a dog who poops
on my lawn. I've really got to get my husband to replace the fence
that blew down almost two years ago to at least keep the dog out
(he's halfway there!). Anyway, I was told to get a cat fence to put
on top of the fence, if your yard is fenced. Apparently these are
advertised in cat magazines which of course I've not had a chance to
check out. I recall being told that it's a mesh fence that wouldn't
support the cat's weight if they tried to jump over. If anyone has
heard of this and knows a source, please let me know. Thanks.
To the person who wanted help with cats pooping: we've used chili
pepper flakes successfully in our backyard. The drawbacks are that
you have to put it out every coouple of days and that you have to wait
until your child doesn't eat everything she comes in contact with.
Also, I've seen machines in catalogs that emit sounds that cats, dogs,
mice etc get annoyed by. I've never seen them in stores though.
We've got the classic turtle sandbox.
What do you do when a neighborhood cat uses it for a litterbox?
Scoop it out?
Sanitize it somehow?
Toss out the entire sandbox?
How often do you refresh/renew the sand? How do you get rid of the
If neighborhood cats have been using your sandbox, you need to replace
the sand. Scooping it out will only get the poop, not the urine, and the
sand is "ruined". It isn't considered hazardous waste or anything, so you
can just dispose of it as conventional waste. To prevent it in the future,
you just need to cover up the sandbox when it isn't in use.... a lot of
sandboxes now come with lids. Otherwise, you'll have to make one.
One of the neighborhood cats has taken to using our raised vegetable
beds as a litter box. I have two questions. First, does anyone have any
good ways of discouraging the cat? Second, after cleaning it up, should
I be concerned about residual bacteria and planting vegetables in the
same area? I got to thinking about this because I'm pregnant and I've
heard that pregnant women shouldn't clean litter boxes because of
exposure to a bacteria in the cat feces. I then started thinking about
whether or not my veggies, current or planted in the near future, would
It's my understanding that it is something to be concerned about, babies in
utero can contract toxoplasmosis (sp?) from the bacteria in cat poop which
can be very serious.
Having said that, I've been trying to keep my cats out of the plants for a
long time, now. I've discovered that they tend to not like big pieces of bark
or rocks, they want a fine material that they can paw through, and then
cover up with. You might want to try mulching with big pieces of bark.
Also, chicken wire laid down on top of the dirt will keep them away. One
thing that hasn't worked is putting a fence around the border, they just jump
right over it.
I wouldn't take a chance with cleaning cat poop and being
pregnant. Could you have your partner clean the box? Better
yet, have the neighbor who owns the cats clean it up. Once
he/she gets sick of doing that, maybe that person will be in
better control of his/her animals.
I understand your concern ! We had neighborhood cats that were
using our yard as a litter box. The smell and the fact that we
have a toddler who likes to dig in dirt got us doing some
serious research on the matter. Our solution was a motion
detector sprinkler. The cats hated getting squirted so much that
they quit coming into our yard within the first 3 days ! We
only use the sprinkler occasionally now - the cats know to stay
away from our yard. It has worked wonders. We got ours through
frontgate.com (it's a little pricey at about $100).
Congratulations on your coming arrival !
A few years back Times columnist Gary Bogue had advice about
putting a wobbly fence on top of your fence to keep out cats.
Perhaps if you ask, he can email it and other advice to you:
garybug AT infi DOT net
Here are my 2 cents. Even non-pregnant people should avoid food
grown in an area pets use as a toilet. Perhaps food grown well
above the ground (i.e. tomatoes) might be okay. Or food you
would cook thoroughly? You could fill the raised bed with
pointy sticks. You could have somone saturate some rags with
cat repellent and tie them to sticks in the raised bed. You
could surround the area with netting. (If you do this, please
make the netting taut, so no animal will get tangled in it --
we once had to call animal control to release an opposum that
got caught.) You could get a product (called Scarecrow) that
has a motion detector and turns on a sprinkler when
set off. For your reference, here is one purveyor of it (I have
no experience with this company):
Good luck and I wish you the best with your pregnancy,
birth and baby.
Go to www.gardenweb.com. The forum section has tons of great
advice about discouraging cats from using gardens as litter boxes.
One way to keep the cats out is to put down chicken wire.
Apparently, they hate walking on it. As for the bacteria that is
potentially already there, I don't know. Ask your midwife or OB
for the latest info on toxoplasmosis, and to be tested for it.
It's possible you've already had it and are now immune.
Good luck; this is maddening.
You are very right to be concerned. The bacteria you're
referring to (Toxoplasmosis) is not routinely found in the soil
in the U.S. -- but it *is* found in cat poop, and it *is*
transferable to soil, and it *is* potentially devastating to a
fetus (miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects)... and so I would
certainly be fearful if I knew that a cat had pooped in my
veggie garden! I know all this because I was living in France
during my pregnancy, and the Toxoplasmosis bacteria does in fact
live in the soil there -- and so, as a result, I was not allowed
to eat any raw fruits or vegetables that had grown in the soil
An apple was OK if washed thoroughly (since it spent its life
way up in the tree away from the dirt), but lettuce was
literally off-limits... imagine your OB telling you ''DO NOT
UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EAT SALAD!'' :) Now, based on my
experience, if you're planning on cooking all the veggies, I
wouldn't worry about it. But that's pretty unlikely, so please
talk to your OB about the situation -- a simple blood test can
tell you if you are immune (although immunity in Americans is
uncommon). In the meantime, you can get more info on webmd.com
(just type in 'toxoplasmosis').
Here's what I did to keep the cats out of the garden. I bought
some of that netting that's for keeping birds out and that
1foot tall metal garden border that comes in rolls. I then lay
the netting over the garden and stretched it taught, weighting
it down with stones around each garden bed. I actually
angled it out so that the cats couldn't climb in. This meant
the netting was raised about a foot over the garden. Once
the plants grew tall enough I removed the netting.
When I was pregnant and handling feral cats I had myself
tested for exposure to toxoplasmosis. They say that if you've
been around cats a lot then you're most likely immune.
FWIW, I wasn't.
To discourage cats, I would recommend a motion-activated
sprinkler called a scarecrow. I think they cost about $70 and
you can buy them at places like OSH.
Yes, toxoplasmosis is a potentially serious condition, but I
wanted to add another perspective. I have had cats all my life,
and was a heavy-duty meat-eater for the first 22 years of my
life, so when I got pregnant I was very concerned about this. I
had 3 indoor/outdoor cats at the time, and also volunteered with
feral cats and with cats at the SF SPCA. The first thing I did
was get myself and my cat (the one that was outdoors the most)
tested. I was sort of hoping I'd test positive because then I
would pass along the immunity, but much to my surprise we both
tested negative! That actually made me even more nervous, so I
had my husband do the kitty litter for most of my pregnancy (I
must admit that towards the end I found myself doing it every
once in a while). However, my vet said he hadn't seen a case in
many years, and that it was very rare. I also had read that
most humans get it from handling or eating raw meat, not from
cats (I was a vegetarian by this time anyway). I also asked a
woman who worked full-time with cats at the SPCA what she had
done during her pregnancy, and she said that she tested negative
also, so she took added precautions around kitty litter (she now
has 2 healthy kids and about 5 cats). My feeling is that if the
3 of us, with all of our cat contact and meat-eating history,
tested negative, it must be extermely rare.
What you are worried about with cat poop and pregnancy is a
parasite called toxoplasmosis. It causes a problem primarily
during the first trimester of pregnancy if you have no prior
exposure and antibodies yourself. Although cats are the
definitive host of the parasite, most people pick it up from
undercooked meat(beef,etc), so the most important preventative
step is to cook meat well. Also, garden with gloves, so that
you do not have dirt on your hands. This protects you from a
lot more than just the toxo. In general, because of the risks
of poop on foodstuffs, though, it is a good idea to discourage
the cats from using your vegetable garden. There are sprays-
Boundary, Repel, etc. that contain odors that cats don't like.
The thing I have found most effective though is to take wire or
twigs and create a pattern in the open spaces that poke upwards
to bother the cat as they try to walk through. I usually cut
off the top piece of the fencing I use to make tomato cages so
that I have a long strip of wire with pieces sticking out at
right angles on both sides. (A long piece sortof like this
+++++++++) I then place these wires (I try to make decorative
shapes, etc) in the more open spots of the garden or whereever
the cat is trying to walk or squat with the side pieces sticking
up about 2-3 inches. Sometimes need to watch the cats response
and adjust the wire if the cat is persistent. Be patient, but
it is possible to discourage them.
a local vet
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2011
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