Even though we may be ardent cat lovers, we still do not enjoy the unwanted aroma of cats using our gardens or patios as their own personal toilets.
Never has the saying “not in my backyard” been more appropriate! They may be just marking their territory in true cat-like fashion or they may be actually using the area as a toilet. Either way, it is not pleasant.
There are several ways to deal with this without causing any harm
To prevent spraying:
1. Mix one part white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray infected areas. Vinegar helps neutralise odours and as cats don’t like the smell of vinegar so it discourages them from spraying in the same spot again.
2. If cats have sprayed on wooden furniture, wash it down with the white vinegar and water mix. Alternatively, you can mix bicarbonate of soda with water and scrub down furniture.
3. Cats have a sensitive sense of smell and don’t like strong citrus scents. You can choose between scattering orange or other citrus peels in your garden or soaking tea bags in citronella oil and placing around your garden or patio. Citronella oil has a deodorising effect and wards off cats as well as mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks - so two deterrents in one there. While cats instinctively know that citronella oil is toxic if ingested, you can use closed containers (such as coffee tins with soft plastic lids) and punch holes in the lids so that the smell is released but cats can’t get to the citronella oil.
4. Other substances you can use to prevent spraying in a certain spot such as your front door is to Orange Oil wood cleaner, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil.
5. "Havahart's Cat Repellent" uses capsaicin pepper and oil of mustard as its active ingredients. It repels by both taste and odor and has a lemon scent.
6. Plant lavender and marigolds in your garden as cats do not like the scent of either and actively avoid them.
Cats are very territorial
They usually have a path they use through gardens where they spray or urinate. You have to repeat whatever process you decide upon every few days as the scent fades. If you do it for long enough (roughly two weeks) they start to miss out that spot in your garden on their route.
To prevent pooing in your garden:
7. As a rule cats will only use loose dry soil so the first thing to do is to make sure there are no such patches of soil and a cat only needs less than a square foot for this purpose. Plant up as much of the garden as possible but you can place twiggy branches (without leaves) or moist, coarsely mulched wood chips or other organic substance in any bare areas until they become densely planted. Cats don't like moist soil so you can spray it lightly a few times a day.
8. You can also use pieces of wire mesh to move cats off their favorite spots. Lay down chicken wire or bird netting and lightly cover it with mulch in areas they really like.
9. Other suggestions are to spread a good sprinkling of coffee grounds (fresh and non brewed); a covering of cedar compost; bramble cuttings; or plant short twigs or 6 inch bamboo skewers (pointy side up) about six inches apart in the affected area.
10. Using motion activated sprinklers can be an excellent deterrent but if you don't want to go to this expense, keep a spray bottle filled with water handy and just squirt water at the cat every time you see him come into the garden as a harmless deterrent. Cats will definitely dislike this.
The following are very dangerous to use
Chili powder, red crushed pepper or cayenne pepper as it gets on the cat's paws so that when they wash themselves they can get it in their eyes. Also don't ever use mothballs or flakes. Those little toxic waste pellets destroy cats' kidney function as well as seriously harming people who handle them. They will also contaminate your own garden soil. Their packaging even warns against using them this way.
As a last resort...
Consider donating the herb "catnip" to your neighbors (the owners of the straying cats) so that their pets stay happily in their own yards!