Monday, May 21, 2012

I am my Father's Daughter: Or, Karma Chameleon

When I was a kid, my family and I were amused by the ongoing, ceaseless and hilarious yearly battle between my father and the local raccoons.

With a substantial garden and glorious grapevines, our yard must have been a raccoon foodie's paradise. This, as you can imagine, was extremely frustrating for my father. The keeper, planter and carer of these plants, foiled every single year by those sneaky, tricky and really rather intelligent fat-bottomed critters.
Unkindly we would tease my father. Outwitted by the raccoons again, eh dad? Those stringed up tin cans didn't scare them away, huh? Yeah, I saw them playing some calypso music on them and having a grand old party, your garden as the buffet!

Well, don't karma come and bit ME on the behind!

Here's what I'm facing:

Karma has dictated that one of my neighbours chooses to allow her pet cat to wander around outdoors. This is a nice enough cat, but he's a cat. He likes to poop in places, whether those are places he should poop or not.

I awoke Tuesday morning to find my newly transplanted, spindly wee strawberry seedlings had been... fertilized? by said cat.

So now, the battle of Teresa and the Orange Cat of Strawberry Death has begun.

I ask of you, wise gardeners, knowledgeable cat-owners:

How do I keep the Orange Cat of Strawberry Death out of my garden?

Here's a sampling of the suggestions the interwebs has given me:
-a cat-safe produce called CatScat (though admittedly it does resemble some sort of medieval torture device)
-ultrasonic machines that emit a cat-repelling sound (out of the range of human ears)
-orange peels, scattered around the garden edge
-cayenne pepper, scattered likewise
-cages/netting to protect garden
and, my favourite
-green 1-litre bottles filled with water. Yeah. Like, empty 7-Up bottles, just placed around the garden. Supposed to scare the cats off.


kingshearte said...

Lee Valley also has (or did, when I worked there) a sprayer on a motion detector, so the cat or whatever will get sprayed when it gets too close. I assume you can turn it off when you want to do any gardening in the area.

juicyknits said...

You most definitely need this plant :

ChrisC said...

Our yard is THE hang-out for neighborhood cats, both stray and owned-but-allowed-to-wander. I was super-stressed about what to do about them pooping in our garden, since it was one of their favorite litter boxes before we turned it into a veggie patch. We ended up buying a couple packs of those wooden skewers you use to make shish-kabobs and planting them in the garden all around our seedlings. We put them in the ground pretty close together, and randomly, so that a cat would have to work hard to pick their way around them, and there wasn't anywhere with enough room for a cat to squat. It took maybe 100 skewers for an 8x10 patch?

Anyway, it's worked like a charm. It's been 6 weeks since we planted the garden, and we've had exactly one pooping incident, where a cat went in the one spot we had a bit of a gap. We filled it in with an extra skewer, and nothing since! As the plants have grown larger and covered more ground, I've pulled out the skewers that were getting in the way.

Michelle said...

Put a nice fresh box of litter beside the garden. My parents bought a property once where someone had left one, and cats would go out of their way to go to the litter box outside.

Barbara said...

I had the same problem here. I was so annoyed with cats pooping, I just bought some (chicken) wire to fence my entire garden. Works great. My garden smells of roses now, not of cat poo.
If you don't like the sight of the wire, use it to grow ivy or sweet pea.

meredith MC said...

On a variation of the chicken wire- I used to cut holes in chicken wire for my plants or cut it to size to lay on the ground between plants. Then just put a tiny bit of compost on top so you don't have to look at it. They can't dig.
I have found orange peels, cayenne etc. very ineffective. One year I got a bag of pine needles from a friend and used it as mulch. The cats didn't like digging in the needles- I think they were pokey! The mulch was fairly thick- 2 to three inches. Enough so it takes more than one paw scraping to move it out of the way.
Overall, I liked the mulch better than the wire but you have to know someone with trees to get the needles from or go out to a forest and bring some home.
The chicken wire is really easy and if you do it, I recommend cutting it into squares that you can handle easily- it makes it a lot easier to move around and store in the winter.
Best of luck with your garden!

Anonymous said...

My grandfather had great luck with coffee grounds. He would dump his used coffee grounds in the flower beds and the cats didn't like them. I know that azalas and some other plants like the grounds for fertilizer so he was getting two uses out of what some people think of as garbage. You would need to check whether your strawberries could tolerate the grounds though. Good luck!

Tien said...

the best way to scare neighbour cats away is to get yourself a cat.... really... they are territorial-animals.. :-)
and secondbest is to get yourself some great toy-watergun... and sitting innocently in your garden, armed with your pistol at ready... no screaming or shouting, no sudden moves, just aim the powerful water jet on the cat, who gets hit out of nowhere, scares him out of your garden... works like a charm!!

Anonymous said...

Blood meal. It's actually a type of fertilizer too, so it isn't bad to put on the plants (I have my doubts about cayenne pepper being good for plants...)

Just be careful how often you add it. It lasts a while, and you don't want to over fertilize.

Bonus: it's also relatively cheap at any garden centre.

Anonymous said...

I have cats and there are also some outdoor cats that adore using my freshly dug garden as a litter box (I can understand the - ahem - urge). When I put down mulch (typically old straw or hay) they find other, more convenient, places to poop. It is really great for the plants to mulch heavily, and if it has the added benefit of being unappealing to cats - yay!

I have found that my own cats want absolutely nothing to do with oranges, orange peels, etc. So I could see that it could work in the garden as well.

Cleo14 said...

Try putting out hair clippings, the scent should scare them away. Or walk a dog around your plants, same deal. The scent should Keep the Kitty away.

Carol said...

Motion activated sprinkler

Anonymous said...

Cedar clippings, cats do not like walking on them.

Rebecca said...

I am going through the exact same thing!! I like the idea of getting a cat and motion activated sprinklers...I look forward to hearing what ends up happening with you!