The Q&A Archives: Cat Using Young Trees As Scratching Posts

Question: How can I protect my young trees from the neighborhood tomcat who is shredding the bark very deeply? I tried placing vaseline around the trees to discourage him but now I'm wondering if the vaseline will hurt the trees more. (When I wipe the vaseline off the bark, the bark stays wet looking like it was absorbed into the tree.) I noticed that crawling bugs could not get up through the vaseline to the leaves. I heard this idea on a television gardening show where vaseline was used to keep bugs off large flowers.
thanks for any help, Judy

Answer: You could try making the approach area less attractive by littering the ground with thorny branches (eg rose prunings)or spraying the trunk with a repellent. There are commercially formulated sprays for cats as well as home made ones based on garlic and/or red pepper. Alternatively you might try placing a loose cylinder of wire mesh or screening around the bottom several feet of the trunk. This would wobble and not be conducive to climbing and also get in the way of scratching. Finally, you might talk to the owner and discuss the damage as well as the dangers to cats who roam. If there is a leash law, you could also call Animal Control. In the meantime, I would remove the vaseline as much as possible.

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