Practical Permaculture – Keeping Cats Out Of The Garden

Jingles

“Miss Jingles” – © chriscondello 2011 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – One of my favorite kitty cats on the street… I have chased her out of my garden a million times… Then I feel bad and end up calling her over for some “purrrrrs”… I’m a sucker for kitties…

I love cats… And I have three of them… Cheech, Chase and Callie… They are our house kitties and I wouldn’t trade them for any animal in the world… I understand why people have kitty cats, and I would never want to harm a cat in any way. But, I absolutely hate when they crap in my garden… Which has become an every night occurrence in my neighborhood… As it always seems to be this time of year…

The problem seems to be the worst during the winter months when the plants are still hibernating, this is the season I find the most crap. Spring tends to be a difficult month as well because it is when I find the remains of the winters craps. Basically it will remain a problem until my plants grow over every square inch of garden space in my yard.

First off I want to stress that if you live in an urban environment, there is ALWAYS a leash law. Animals are not allowed to roam freely through the streets, they are required to be contained to the owner’s property. People seem to universally understand this law as it applies to dogs, what they don’t realize is it also universally applies to cat owners as well… As far as the law is concerned… Cats and dogs are one in the same… They need to be contained to your own property… Always…

Dicentra

“Dicentra formosa” – © chriscondello 2013 – My Garden – Wilkinsburg, PA – This was also originally a photo of cat damage… But who in the hell wants to see photos of that… Instead… Here is one from my garden…

Now, this isn’t always possible… I get it… People like cats… People rescue cats… If you have more than a few cats, it is impossible to keep them inside all of the time… But there should be a reasonable expectation that they will be inside at night… Which is when they seem to do the most damage… Alley cats are a different story… You can’t kill them… But I don’t think you should feed them either… We just kind of have to live with them… And their crap…

Last night… I lost a $30 plant because a cat decided to take a crap right where I had it planted… So please don’t tell me they do not cause damage… I have probably lost hundreds of dollars worth of plants to cats in my neighborhood over the past 4 years… But it seems to only happen at night… So I really have no idea which cat is doing it… They are like little crapping ninjas… I swear to God… I have no idea how they do it…

So how do you deal with the cats without hurting them in any way? A quick search of the internet brings up a million products claiming to be safe and non-toxic. I have tried a few of these without any results, I think alley cats senses are already so screwed up that these products have no effect. The neighborhood cats around here, probably drink nastier shit than any of these products on a daily basis… They don’t even notice them.

AbandonedQuince©

“Abandoned Quince” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – This was originally a photo of a steaming pile of cat crap… Shot on a cold February morning in the first rays of the winter sunlight… But it just wasn’t doing it for me… So I chose this unrelated photo of a quince bloom behind a 100-year-old abandoned Victorian home…

Some websites recommended using black pepper or cayenne pepper applications in the offending areas. I would put this on the same level as spraying a cat with MACE… I would be livid if you sprayed my kitties with MACE… Therefore… I don’t do it to other cats… Besides the possible nasty physical effects of pepper treatments, they require a new application after every rainfall… And in all honesty, are not the least bit effective. Keep your spices off the neighborhood cats and in your food where they belong… Alley cats don’t need to be tasty… The last thing I need is a dozen “Cajun flavored” cats running around the neighborhood…

Fences are not really effective either, as my backyard is fenced in with 4′ cyclone fence… And I still find fresh crap in my garden EVERY morning…The cats in my neighborhood regularly jump higher than 4′ to snag birds out of the trees. I had a bird feeder 6′ off the ground and had a cat jumping up and snagging birds out of the feeder… Essentially my bird feeder had become a cat feeder… And the occasional hawk… 

I have a few methods that have worked for me to some degree… None of them are impervious though… If a cat has to go to the bathroom… Well… No amount of chicken wire will stop it… I have recently been finding the crap right on top of the garden without any attempt to even bury it… I don’t know what to do about that one, as I have no idea which cat is doing it… All I know is it is getting really old…

If you catch cats in your garden during the daylight, squirt the fucker with your hose or chase it out of your yard. This method has a certain level of novelty and stress release, but, it really isn’t the least bit effective. Cats in my neighborhood prefer the over-night sneak attack, they know when my guard is down. They will wait till I am sound asleep, then rip plants out of the ground and piss and crap everywhere. They even like to wait till I plant something new, then go to town in the freshly worked soil.

The most effective, and immediate method I have found of keeping cats out of your garden for good is simply… Wait for it… Burying chicken wire under every square inch of your garden… It sounds ridiculous… But it kind of works… Cover your garden in chicken wire fencing before you plant, then simply plant through the holes in the fence.

ChickenWireGarlic

© chriscondello 2011 – Whitney Avenue Urban Farm – Wilkinsburg, PA – Old photo… Sorry about quality… Raised beds oddly resemble massive kitty litter boxes and will almost always attract local cats… I put chicken wire down on the beds to deter them… And it makes a very handy planting grid for garlic…

If you already have an established garden and just have problems in a few areas, spot treat with the fencing. Cats don’t like to dig through the chicken wire and will typically find some other place to crap if they encounter difficulty digging. If the cats are focussing on one specific location, put a rock or other hard scape item right on the spot where they poop… The cats typically seem to get the idea… Plants will also work for this… If you find poop… Scoop it… And plant something in the same spot… Eventually they will no longer have anywhere to poop… And you will have a full garden…

The method that I try to practice is what I call “saturation gardening”, basically I like to fill every square inch of my garden with plant life. If a cat can’t find soil in your garden, it will go somewhere else to poop. Groundcover, especially strongly scented ones work wonders in keeping cats from digging in the garden… Think creeping thyme or creeping oregano, the herbal oils alone are often enough to repel many animals.

In the end… I will just keep chasing the cats out of my garden… The chicken wire worked for a year… But the cats have just started going on top of it… My garden is actively growing and I am actively planting so the problem will soon be someone elses… Until then… I’ll just keep on scooping it up… That’s really all I can do…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Practical Permaculture – Keeping Cats Out Of The Garden

  1. Andrea says:

    This is another one:

    Like

  2. Andrea says:

    What is your opinion about this type of “cat proof” fencing? It is used to keep cats inside their owner´s gardens, but could be used on the other side of the fence, to keep other´s people cats out.

    Like

  3. gardengirl92 says:

    Hi Chris,
    I included the link to this post in my own post on how to keep cats out of the garden and referenced you. It will be published tomorrow. Thanks for the helpful information! 🙂

    Like

  4. Patricia in OR says:

    IF your garden or back yard is fenced, you might consider putting an electric barrier on the top of the fence. We have a 6′ cedar fence around the back. Found a livestock single-wire system and put it on top. It was a bunch of work (a huge pain, actually) but the raccoons can’t get in to eat fish & plants out of the pond, the possum can’t jump at all, so if the fence is tight at the bottom, that’s that for him. Unless the cats can get up to the roof on both sides (front & back), they will be discouraged. The squirrels & birds will not have any trouble, but they’re not part of the problem anyway!

    Like

  5. kk4oos says:

    Your cats like to poop on plants, mine likes to eat them. I try to counterbalance this by growing lots of catnip

    Like

  6. Rosie says:

    A friend of mine had good luck with one of the granular products you sprinkle on the ground. But her feline visitors were almost possitivly domestic, not wild. She has also used one of the ‘sonic” dog devices. Her neighbors think it is perfectly fine to allow your dog to crap on the front lawn of someone else. Of course they think the kids are allowed to ‘hang out’ on stranger’s lawns too. Not sure about people anymore.

    Like

Comments are closed.