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9 effective ways to stop cats pooping in your garden

how to stop cats pooping in the garden
How to deter cats from your gardenMariia Zotova - Getty Images

Cats instinctively like to roam, but it can be frustrating when they use our flowerbeds as toilets, dig up borders and predate on wildlife. Here's how to stop cats from pooping in your garden.

Whether you want to keep cats off certain areas in your garden or stop them scratching your garden furniture sets, there are lots of natural ways to ensure they stay away for good. Some cats may wander into your garden out of curiosity, while others might be looking to mate or hunt.

'It's common for our feline friends to express their natural instincts by using gardens as litter boxes. While each cat is unique, there are some tested methods to discourage this behaviour and keep your garden pristine,' Angela Laws, head of community at TrustedHousesitters, tells House Beautiful UK.

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It is important to remember:

  • Always use licensed cat deterrent products

  • The RSPCA advises households to avoid using 'DIY' deterrents that could potentially be harmful to cats

  • If you know the owner of the cat, speak to them first.

  • Causing unnecessary suffering to a cat is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

On that note, keep reading for nine effective ways you can stop cats pooping in your garden...

1. Don't offer them food

Don't leave food out for stray or neighbouring cats, as they are more likely to return. Ensure you clean up properly after a BBQ or garden party, picking up any scraps that may have fallen on the ground. Cats will relish the chance to eat your leftovers, but may also injure themselves walking on broken bones from cooked meat.

2. Keep flowerbeds watered

You really don't want cat poop in your soil, especially if you're growing edible produce. Cats dislike wet soil, so keeping those flowerbeds well watered will stop them pooping in your garden and crushing your plants. According to the RHS, cats prefer loose, dry earth, mulch and compost.

how to stop cats pooping in the garden
KelvinJay - Getty Images

3. Install an automatic spray

Designed for outdoor use, water repellers are a humane way to deter cats and other animals from hanging around your garden. They are safe and effective, gently shooting out bursts of water for a few seconds in the general direction of the animal. It's a known fact that cats hate water, so they'll be gone on the first spray.

Simply connect the repeller to a standard garden hose and then turn it on. It won't spray any water until the sensor is triggered, meaning you won't waste any water.

4. Make it difficult to enter the garden

From close-boarded fences to privacy-giving shrubs, keep nosey cats away by making it difficult for them to enter your garden. If they are still finding their way in, the RSPB suggests surrounding an area with a fence (such as chicken wire) that leans in the direction from which the cat will approach. Alternatively, flimsy plastic roll-up fencing placed on top of a fence will prevent cats from climbing over it.

a cat enjoying the sunset
Fokke Hassel - Getty Images

5. Use scent deterrents

Cats are sensitive when it comes to smells, but there are a few scents they hate that might surprise you (and you probably have them in your kitchen).

'Consider placing natural repellents such as citrus peels, coffee grounds, or citrus-scented sprays in the garden which will deter cats from doing their business there,' suggests Angela. You can either sprinkle drops directly onto your flowerbeds or soak a cotton wool around it and place at entry points. One sniff and they'll be gone.'

Top tip: Consider growing coleus canina (Plectranthus caninus) in your garden. Marketed under Pee-off and Scaredy-cat, it has a pungent odour that is famed for repelling cats and other invasive animals.

6. Install an ultrasonic deterrent

Much like water-based deterrents, invest in an ultrasonic cat repellent that emits a high-pitched frequency to scare cats. While it may take up to four weeks to put them off coming into your garden, cats will find the piercing sound uncomfortable and leave – it is inaudible to humans.

Ultrasonic deterrents available to buy include the RSPCA-endorsed CATwatch deterrent (£55.99), Pestbye's more affordable version which can easily be propped in the soil (£21.99), and this one from Argos (£22).

'This is the first time independent research has shown that an ultrasonic device can have a deterrent effect on cats. CATWatch offers a pragmatic partial solution for non-cat owners who wish to deter cats from entering their gardens,' says Andy Evans from the RSPB.

'Gardens are becoming increasingly important to many birds, such as the house sparrow, song thrush and starling. All of these birds are regular visitors to gardens and CATWatch can help to deter cats from entering gardens.'

7. Cover parts of your garden with pebbles and rocks

Cats prefer smooth and soft surfaces to walk on than bristly ones, so why not try covering parts of your garden with stone chippings, rocks, small pebbles or netting? As soon as their paws touch the scratchy surface, they will leave.

stone path in the garden
owngarden - Getty Images

8. Build a cat-safe area

If you don't mind having cats in your garden, why not build a cat-safe area to keep them away from your prized plants?

'Set up a specific spot in your garden with loose soil or sand where cats can dig. Encourage them to use this area by placing some of their waste there and rewarding them when they use it. This will encourage them to avoid other outdoor areas and stay confined to their designated spot when doing their business,' explains Angela.

9. Check the litter tray

If you have a cat, regularly check their litter tray to ensure they use this instead of a garden. Simple mistakes could put them off. Angela says the errors you could be making include:

1. The litter tray isn't clean enough — a litter tray should be checked and cleaned twice a day, and completely cleaned every week.

2. The litter isn't deep enough.

3. The litter is scented.

4. The litter tray is positioned in a particularly public or busy area of the home.

5. The tray is too small or not covered.

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