Keep Cats out
of the Garden
Cats! Cats! Cats!
Some people love cats. Others hate them. But whatever your feelings
about cats, chances are you probably don't want them digging
up your garden. So, what do you do?
First, it helps if you can think like a cat. With the exception
of a few plants, catnip being the main one, cats really aren't out
to destroy your beloved perennials or garden vegetables. What they
really like is the dirt. Most cats think the outdoors is their litter
box, and a patch of dirt is an invitation to come do their business.
It also makes a great place to play or roll.
One way to keep your own cats from roaming into the neighbor's garden,
is to make your space attractive to them. In an out of the way corner
of the yard, plant a patch of catnip, the aphrodisiac of cats. Spread
some sand for sleeping nearby. Or, if your feline companions prefer
to keep you company in the garden, leave a cat-sized play area in
one part of the garden. Make sure you plant or mulch the rest of
the garden so your cats have no other place to roll and will stay
in their designated area.
If you don't want your neighbor's cats in your garden, you will
need to take more drastic measures. Try spraying the intruder with
a blast from the hose. Most cats will turn and run although some
actually enjoy water, especially on a hot day. For them, you must
try other tactics, like planting rue. The blue foliage makes this
an attractive garden accent, but cats can't stand the odor and will
make a wide berth around the planting. Thorny roses also deter cats.
Some gardeners use homemade remedies. Although I can't personally
attest to the success of these methods, it won't hurt to try them.
Sprinkle your plants with crushed pepper. It will irritate cats
and may even produce a few extra pepper plants in the garden. Cayenne
is also said to work though you will need to reapply it after every
rain. Or try ground-up grapefruit and lemon rinds. Or make a tea
of rue, hot pepper liquid, or lemon juice to spray on plants.
Commercial products like predator urine and cat (and dog) repellents
also are available at many garden centers. Or try to get rid of
unwanted cat visitors with devices that use sound, light, and/or
water to scare them away. Another possibility is to lay down mats,
which have soft upward facing points. It won't hurt you--or the
cats--to walk on these, but most cats don't like to step on them.
If you have bird feeders near your garden, move them to a new location
or hang them higher than a cat can jump. Otherwise, cats may continue
to visit your garden in hopes of catching birds.
Finally, remember that cats are not stupid creatures. They can be
taught. Sometimes a stern "no" is all it takes to teach a cat to
stay out of the garden. But if all else fails, there's always cat
behavior modification--better known as therapy--for your furry friend,
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
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