Thursday, June 07, 2012

How To: Keep a Cat Out of Your Garden

Dear readers,

Just a while back, I shared with you my ongoing battle with the Orange Cat of Strawberry Death.
Though I have not the ultimate cat-deterring answer, I have indeed tested a few suggestions, and can herein outline their effectiveness, cost, availability and overall applicability.
The battle continues, folks, but there is hope.

PhotobucketSuggestion #1:
Dog pee
Effectiveness: I "tried" this one by default. Only a day or so after my initial post, my parents dropped by with Ellie dog. She, as dogs will do, left some scent in my yard. I saw the cat in there the very next morning. So, not particularly effective.
Cost: free! Just subject to the availability of the dog.
Availability: See comment above.
Applicability: Maybe if Ellie was around more often to "recharge" her scent this method would work, but if you don't own a dog or have one very near indeed, this is likely not the solution for you.

Suggestion #2:
Cayenne Pepper
Effectiveness: Some people have sworn to me that this method worked for them. I suspect this it totally cat-dependent, in that, if your particular problem-cat hates cayenne pepper, this will work. If not, you're barking up the wrong tree. One negative to this method: after any rain (or watering of garden) you've got to re-apply the cayenne.
Cost: Minimal. I think I picked up a little spice baggie of it for under $3.
Availability: Easy to find in any grocery store.
Applicability: Well, I hope for you this is the answer, since it's so easy to get and inexpensive. The applicability, though, depends on the cat-in-question's sensitivity.

PhotobucketSuggestion #3:
Water Spray
Effectiveness: Works like a charm!
Cost: Free! Unless you decide to invest in a Super Soaker, or perhaps want to split hairs and check how much water consumption is used in particular for cat-spraying... pennies, I would think.
Availability: Right there in your tap!
Applicability: This is free/cheap and easy to get, but unfortunately only works if you're there all the time... waiting... Getting a motion-activated sprinkler is an option, but an expensive one.

PhotobucketSuggestion #4:
Bamboo Skewers
Effectiveness: If I was handing out prizes for methods suggested, attempted, and proved successful, ChrisC would be the winner! Shoving the skewers (pointy side down!) keeps the cat out like a charm.
Cost: Inexpensive. I bought a few packs of 100 for under $4.
Availability: Easy to find, I would imagine most dollar stores would have them.
Applicability: Easy to install! And once they're in place, you can garden around them, pull them out and re-use them in other parts of your garden (or for next year's problem-cat...)

Suggestion #5:
Cedar Mulch
Effectiveness: For the Orange Cat of Strawberry Death, this proves absolutely ineffective. I laid down several inches of mulch, and caught him digging, quite happily, in it on several occasions.
Cost: I guess it's pretty cheap, but depends on your budget and amount of space to cover. One very large bag was about $6, and covered about a 3' sq area.
Availability: At this time of year, it seems there's garden centres everywhere selling the stuff!
Applicability: I'll say it looks great, keeps weeds down, but doesn't seem to have any effect on at least my problem-cat.

Suggestion #6:
CatScat Mat
Effectiveness: This works just as well as the bamboo skewers!
Cost: Too expensive. Way too expensive. Each wee mat covers an area of less that 1' sq. I bought 8, and it came to over $50! (I felt like a sucker. I placed the order for this stuff and then the next day ChrisC left the helpful suggestion of bamboo skewers. D'oh!
Availability: Well, you can buy it online, so I guess it's easy to get. Bamboo skewers are better though.
Applicability: It works! But is too expensive. Especially in light of the cheapness of the skewers.

There was also a bunch of great suggestions I did not try, but thought I'd share my input on anyway...

Suggestion #7:
Fresh Box of Litter Next to Garden
Effectiveness: I can see this working. I read this suggestion in several places, some of which also mentioned planting some catnip to make the approved-of poop area even more enticing.
Cost: Honestly, I've never bought kitty litter before. I assume you'd also have to get a bin to put it in.
Availability: Easy to find!
Applicability: Ok, while this could work, it has the unfortunate downside of ME having to scoop a cat's poop. Not my cat, don't want to scoop its poop.

Suggestion #8:
Green 2 Litre Bottles
Effectiveness: Oh sweet chocolate from heaven, I wish this would work. It would be hilarious and inexpensive.
Cost: See point above.
Availability: So easy to get!
Applicability: Please please tell me if you try this one. I'd love to know its success rate.

Suggestion #9:
Orange Peels, Blood Meal, Coffee Grounds, Pine Needles, Anti-Cat Plant
Effectiveness: I've heard this one from so many sources, it must work on some cats.
Cost: Most of the things listed there are inexpensive options, though I've never priced Blood Meal.
Availability: Again, I think they're mostly easy to find.
Applicability: These ones all have a multitasking bonus. If it keeps the cat away, hooray! If not, at the least, these items all either fertilize your garden, or act as a beneficial mulch.
Here's a link to a plant which is reputed to work anti-cat magic.

Suggestion #10:
Chicken Wire (above or below)
Effectiveness: I would imagine this would be very effective indeed, especially when placed above your plants in a protective cage/wall.
Cost: Chicken wire is one of those things all our fathers have tucked away in the basement or barn, no? It just grows naturally, appears suddenly, and is readily available through the magic methods of "stuff-dads-always-have". Other items that fall into this category are twine, random wires of unknown origin or use, tools that are older than your grandparents and, my favourite, duct tape.
Availability: See above! (No, I joke. I'm sure chicken wire is reasonably priced and easy to find).
Applicability: I would imagine its price, availability and effectiveness would score it high points and make it a viable option for many gardeners.


Unknown said...

Bamboo skewers! I need to do that. The cayenne pepper worked a bit...I think my cat/squirrel/whatever has found a way to dig AROUND it....grumble.
Death toll - 1 cucumber plant, 1 jalapeno plant, a section of green pepper seeds

ChrisC said...

Oh, yay! I'm so glad the skewers are working for you. It made me really happy to read this post. :-)

Our garden is still thriving, and I've actually been able to pull most of the skewers out and save them for next year, as the plants have filled in. Cats will go for the bare earth, but they don't usually mess around once the plants have covered the ground. Since we planted in April, we've had one pooping incident (skewers not close enough together) and one pea plant dug up (by a squirrel, I think, not a cat)

Rebecca said...

This weekend the bamboo skewers come out! Thanks for your helpful post :)

juicyknits said...

Unbelievable how many interesting ways there are to keep cats away. Glad you found something that really works.

Anonymous said...

sad that people don't keep their cats at home.