The Q&A Archives: Cats in my yard

Question: We are having serious problems with cats in the neighborhood deficating in our landscape, under our porches and even in flower pots sitting up on the porch! We've talked with the neighbors but nothings been done. Some are strays. We live inside city limits, but animal control isn't much help. I also have children allergic to animals. I've tried the garlic spray and a red pepper mix, but with all the rain we've had, it isn't helping much. Any suggestions short of putting moth balls out? I don't really want to hurt them, but I'm sick of the smell coming through our windows when we get to open them. Thank you for you help.

Answer: Moth balls are not recommended for this use as they can be toxic to children and animals both. You might try some of the commercial animal repellent sprays, be sure to apply and reapply per the label directions. You might also try some barriers that make digging/walking less appealing such as thorny branch clippings sprinkled on the soil surface, small wooden sticks or skewers poking up from the ground, a sprinkling of pine cones, or tin foil or wire mesh laid out on the soil surface. Sometimes changing to a different mulch material will help. Some gardeners report that citrus peels scattered through the area help deter cats. Some gardeners have had success by providing an alternative, even more attractive area stocked with sand to lure them away. For the cats with owners, you could discuss with the owners the fact that it is safer for their pets to be kept inside where they are protected from the dangers of dogs and also cars. Finally, it does seem to be somewhat of a seasonal problem, they tend to scatter once the initial thrill of spring is past. And, once the area is covered with plants they tend to lose interest as well. I hope this helps.

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