From My Garden to Yours
Keeping Cats Out of Garden Beds
May 26, 2018

Keeping Cats Out of Garden Beds

Cats are beautiful in the garden, but they can be downright dangerous in the kitchen garden. Especially with raised beds, it can be tempting for cats to use them as litter boxes.That’s unpleasant for the gardener, but also their feces can infect the soil with parasites, including one that causes toxoplasmosis. This disease can be particularly dangerous to those with a weakened immune system and for pregnant women.

Deterrents for Cats

My garden includes 10+ roaming cats, so I’ve tried many things to keep them from digging into our veggie garden or just laying down in beds which smothers seedlings and/or breaks plants.

Scents

Strong smelling additions to the garden can keep cats out of a bed because they always sniff before digging. In my yard, my cats especially hate crushed red pepper flakes. However, all scent-based solutions are only temporary.

  • Rue herb
  • Citrus fruits: lemon, orange or grapefruit
  • Spraying vinegar
  • Crushed red pepper

I’ve heard that some gardeners use coffee grounds but my cats will dig in beds regardless of coffee grounds of any amount.

Temporary Barriers

Cats want an open space for digging. They typically won’t dig if there’s not enough room (like enough to lay down). So it can work well to simply scatter objects around plants. The area shown below has been scattered with wildflower seeds and branches placed over it.

Besides the barriers below, I have also put in extra plants in a hop-scotch pattern because my cats don’t bother with densely planted beds. This works well in perennial beds that are getting established and there is lots of extra space.

  • Plastic forks (downside: they’re ugly and eventually break)
  • Bamboo skewers (upside: they blend into the garden and their sharp points make it easy to insert)
  • Branches
  • Big rocks
  • Pine cones (held in place with bamboo skewers)
  • Overturned pots
  • Prickly mats (downside: you would need a lot for a big garden)

Long-term Solutions

  • Cover soil with livestock fencing or chicken wire
  • Netting
  • Motion detector that sprays water

With livestock fencing or chicken wire, your plants can grow right through it. You can also pull out any weeds that also grow through the wire.

Barrier Examples

Livestock Fencing on Garden Bed to Keep Out Cats
Veggie bed covered with livestock fencing.
Keep Cats Out of Containers
Small pots placed in empty spaces.
Keep Cats Out of Containers
Plastic grid cut out of nursery flat. Grid will be removed when seedlings and bulbs emerge.

Caution: Do not use mothballs. They are toxic to cats, other animals and people (really dangerous for young children in the garden).

I hope these solutions work for your garden. If you have a solution that works for your cats, please be sure to comment below and share it.

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