Sometimes it seems that cats enjoy a garden as much as we do. This can be a problem because cats enjoy gardens for far different reasons. They seem to think a garden bed makes a perfect litter box or play area just for them, and they are not at all concerned with our own plans for the garden. Independent creatures that they are, how can a gardener repel cats from the garden?
Finicky cats will avoid areas that smell bad to them, they don’t want to walk on anything bristly or prickly, they want nice loose soil for digging, and most cats despise getting wet. So, think like a cat to find methods to repel them.
Citrus is a strong cat repellent, so try scattering orange or lemon peels around your plants. Bloodmeal will repel some cats, as will ammonia. Fill small jars with household ammonia, then poke a few holes in the lids before partially burying them in the garden, refilling as the ammonia evaporates. The ammonia smell will make most cats think that the garden is another cat’s territory so they will tend to stay away. There are also products available that, to a cat, smell like predator urine. If a cat thinks a fox, coyote or bobcat has been visiting your garden, the cat will stay away from the area.
If a cat cannot easily dig in the soil, it will go elsewhere to find an outdoor litter box. Adding a layer of mulch or stones to a garden can be enough to repel some cats. Or before planting a bed, lay chicken wire over the soil, then use a wire cutter to open holes in it large enough for the plants. Cats will be unable to dig through the wire and will go elsewhere to do their business. The chicken wire will be hidden by your plants as they grow.
Most cats don’t like to get wet, so if you catch cats in the act of defiling your garden, they can be chased away with a spray from the hose or a water gun. There are also motion-activated devices available that will repel cats with a spray of water when you are not around.
A repellent that works for one cat may not work for another. Some cats are more persistent than others and will be reluctant to give up their favorite outdoor litter box. Try several methods to shoo cats from your gardens to find which works best for the local kitties.