Whether you love cats or hate them, it's certainly true that they can make pests of themselves in the garden. From rolling over seedlings and digging up newly planted areas, to leaving their 'calling cards' where you don't want them, they can do a lot of damage. They may also kill wildlife and carry fleas. Here are some ways to discourage cats from making a nuisance of themselves in your garden.
To keep cats out of your garden:
- Remove any 'deposits.' Cats recognize their toilet areas from the smell (so do we!), so clean up any messes and dispose of them safely. They can spread diseases, so don't put them on the compost heap.
- Add new smells. Many smells deter cats from entering areas or leaving their droppings. Citrus peel is one possibility, and you can use coffee grounds if you have a source of them. Chili pepper sprays also work, but are less cat-friendly! Silent Roar is a product made from lion dung, said to deter cats, but you may prefer planting lavender - it's another smell cats don't like, but it's easier on your own nostrils!
- Mulch. A patch of bare earth is very tempting for a kitty, so cover it over with a mulch as soon as you've dug it. Anything should help, but pebbles will definitely discourage digging.
- Enhance your defenses. A tall fence around your garden will discourage any lazy housecats from climbing in, but is expensive. If your current fence is low, try adding a line of string or something flimsy to the top, which cats won't like treading on. Planting sticks or laying prickly branches at strategic points in flower and vegetable beds should stop cats from squatting to do their business. Any sort of crop cover will help stop them digging up your seedlings.
- Buy a deterrent. Passive Infrared Sensors (PIR) are used in a number of animal deterrents and trigger the device when an animal passes. You can get sonic deterrents that emit ultrasound (which cats and dogs can hear, but not humans or birds) and detectors that fire a jet of water from a sprinkler.
- Make a cat garden. If you have a space you can allocate to cats, then they might leave the rest of the garden alone. A paradise for cats would involve a spot of bare earth for digging and sunbathing, a shady area for when it's too hot even for cats, a source of water and some popular cat plants. Catnip, cat thyme and valerian are all popular with cats, and you can also buy special trays of cat grass.
- Get your own cat. If all else fails (and you're not allergic!), you could consider sharing your garden with your own cat. A cat will chase others out of its territory, and then you've only got the damage from one cat to contend with!