Ask a master gardener: How to keep cats awayQ: How can I keep my neighbor’s cats from doing their business in my vegetable garden? Do mothballs work?
Q: How can I keep my neighbor’s cats from doing their business in my vegetable garden? Do mothballs work?
A: You definitely don’t want cat poop in your garden. It’s not just icky. Cat feces can carry diseases that can be passed to people. But you also don’t want to use mothballs outdoors. They probably won’t work, they’re dangerous to children and wildlife, and they can contaminate soil and water.
In Duluth, it’s illegal to let cats (or other pets) run free. But if calling Animal Control seems too drastic, or you live somewhere where there’s no ordinance, you can train visiting cats to find another litter box.
Motion-activated sprinklers can be very effective in deterring all kinds of marauding animals. The noise and the sudden spray of water scares them off.
You can also lay chicken wire flat over your garden bed right after you plant seeds. Secure it with U-shaped pieces of wire. Most plants do fine coming up through the mesh, and cats can’t dig through it. Mulch may help, too.
You may be able to repel cats with hot pepper sprinkled on the garden. Planting the herb rue may also be effective. Some of the repellents sold in pet stores or garden stores may work, but be sure they’re safe for use around food. It’s a good idea to apply repellents late in the day, when cats are more active.
If all else fails, you may want to invest in a low-voltage electric fence.