The Q&A Archives: Cats on the Patio

Question: I have recently moved to the city where my garden is now a patio with a small brick bed and several large containers. My cat was an indoor-outdoor cat in the suburbs and still expects to be able to come and go at will. The problem is she also seems to think the containers are her personal litter boxes. Any ideas for limiting her access or for container plants that would deter her?

Answer: Cats are creatures of habit so if you can gently break the habit, your cat will learn to go elsewhere. I think the easiest approach is to place a temporary barrier between the soil and the cat. If she can't comfortably dig in the soil, she will give up and use a litter box instead. You can try placing crumpled up tin foil, hardware cloth or chicken wire in the containers, or stretch nylon bird netting over the entire plant and container. Since this is just a temporary measure, your patio garden may look odd for a while, but in a few weeks, after your cat has learned she has no access to the soil in the containers, she'll ignore them even when you remove the barriers. I've also seen creative gardeners string nylon fishing line over the tops of the containers to keep cats out. I think they are afraid they'll get their legs caught so they generally stay away. Hope one of these suggestions works for you and your cat!

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