However much you love your cat, if you have a garden there are probably going to be places where you definitely do not want it to go. Yet cats are notoriously difficult to keep away from areas that are out of bounds. While there are several recommended ways to try to do just that, it may take more than one attempt – and quite a considerable amount of patience – to keep valued parts of your garden feline free.
Being a cat owner and a keen gardener do not always complement one another. If you have treasured plants in your garden, it will require persistence in training your cat not to venture to those areas.
Seed beds and vegetable patches are areas of the garden that are frequently disturbed by cats, particularly in spring when the soil has been freshly dug for planting. What could be more attractive as a cat toilet than a piece of soft, friable soil?
One method of keeping a cat away from an area of the garden is to make the other parts more cat friendly. A bench of natural material placed in the sun, perhaps with catmint growing nearby, will be appealing when the weather is cool, while a leafy area that provides shade will be welcome during hot weather.
If you are sowing seed or have young plants growing on, pea sticks or multi-branching twigs criss-crossing over the rows – usually provide a good deterrent.
Another alternative is to try a commercially-prepared spray or pepper dust, but you will have to be assiduous in reapplying it often, particularly after it has rained.
A disadvantage of these products is that they can be expensive and they are not guaranteed to be successful. If you want to give the pepper a try, use ordinary culinary ground pepper – it is usually much cheaper and can be just as, if not more, effective.
THE ACID TEST
Some people recommend vinegar as an excellent deterrent when applied to any area, whether in the house or garden. This may not be very practical for a large area in the garden, but it is probably well worth trying on a small one. Soak cotton wool balls in vinegar and stick these on twigs which you have pushed into the ground at intervals around the border.
If your cat is determined to sit on the flower beds, you may have a battle on your hands to deter it.
We have just got a kitten and unfortunately it uses the sand box in the garden as a toilet, even though there is a litter tray in the house. What can I use to stop the kitten soiling the sand, but which won’t be harmful to my son?
An uncovered sand box is an open invitation to a cat. There is nothing you can do to prevent its use as a cat toilet. The only solution is to get rid of it and replace it with a plastic sand box that comes complete with a tight-fitting lid.
Are onions or garlic effective at deterring cats from certain parts of the garden? The general opinion is that they are not, and anyway, this would not be practical in the garden. Merely growing these vegetables will not have any effect, as it is the smell of a cut or bruised onion that is supposed to ward cats off.
Oil from the herb rue has been recommended as a cat deterrent since Roman times. Pliny, writing in the 1st century AD, mentions it in his natural history. However, oil of rue has toxic properties and in some people causes severe blistering of the skin, therefore it cannot be recommended.
Lion dung is frequently stated to be a very effective deterrent for deer, rabbits and cats, and indeed it does seem to work. While it was once only available to a privileged few who had access to a zoo, commercial products claiming to contain lion dung have now begun to make their appearance on the general market.