Launching a Campaign Against the Legion of Cats

One of the unforeseen negatives we inherited with the new house is a Legion of Cats who have taken up residence in the yard. They’re not strays, just neighbourhood cats that have decided that since no one else was using it, the’d make the yard their playground. And so they’ve made themselves very comfortable back there: basking in the sun, scratching in the dirt, and pooing all over the place.

Hey, I love cats. I have a 16 year old furry baby of my own. What I do not love is cat poo co-mingling with my food. It’s not just gross, it’s also unsafe.

You know who else loves our yard: squirrels. I like squirrels. I really do. That one squirrel we had on the roof garden was bad enough. So far I’ve counted 4 different squirrels visiting the backyard. It’s like there is one cat for every squirrel. Aren’t cats and squirrels supposed to be mortal enemies? Shouldn’t we have one or the other ravaging the yard, not both, and surely not both AT THE SAME TIME? It’s like the cover of a Watchtower pamphlet back there. Predator and prey cavorting together in a Utopian land. This is not right.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to launch a campaign against the Legion of Cats and their squirrel familiars. Step one is to give the unmistakable impression that there is a new creature in the yard who does not abide by their antics. I run out there several times a day, arms flailing and my voice raised. So far they get skittish when they see me in the window and they run when the back door opens. Unfortunately, they always come back. I can’t say yet whether or not the strategy is working but I’m keeping at it and have until spring to establish some kind of boundary. The problem is, we are die hard cat lovers and I think they are starting to see through my ruse.

I’ve dealt with cats (and squirrels) a few times over the years, but every cat is different. What works for one doesn’t always work for others. I know how to keep them out of particular spots, but what I’d like to achieve ultimately is to get them out of the garden entirely.

I’d send my cat out there to establish dominance but she’s having none of it. She thinks she’s a human and finds these new creatures fascinating and very intimidating.

Other Options:

  • Super Soaker: I don’t want to hurt the cats. I just want them to think of our yard as inhospitable. Most cats hate water.
  • Water Scarecrow: Like the super soaker, but there when I’m not.Meighan had success with this one. The only negative is that there will be plants in the garden that I’d rather didn’t get sprayed. I also wonder about having the hose hooked up to it all day long.
  • Coyote Urine: The trouble here is that I also have a cat and would like her to have the chance to enjoy the backyard. If it scares off other animals, it will surely scare her, too.

Have you had any successes keeping cats and squirrels out of your garden?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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51 thoughts on “Launching a Campaign Against the Legion of Cats

  1. Diane: Believe me, I know all about raccoons. They were my worst foe on the roof. I once found one living in my potting soil bin. They got inside our apartment a few times over the years.

  2. I love the comedic imagery of you shrieking and flailing in order to get rid of the cavorting predators and prey. There should be a Disney movie based on it…

    Fresh ground hot pepper sprinkled generously works on most mammals, but there is debate about whether or not it is humane. I’ve heard speculation that it can permanently damage the senses of squirrels, though I couldn’t find any proof.

  3. Is getting a dog an option? That might get rid of both cats and squirrels, and you’d just have to train the dog to stay out of your garden. My parents had major deer/raccoon problems until they got their new dogs. Now the deer avoid their yard and gardens like the plague, and it wasn’t very hard to teach them to stay out of the gardens.

  4. I understand the issue with wanting to chase out the unwanted creatures but still have others come in. Our yard is a cat highway – but for only 2 or 3 cats (that I’ve seen) & they know now that they are unwelcome – mostly by the sound of my hiss or the clap of my hands.

    I do resort to using cayanne pepper in the raised beds – mostly in the spring when I’ve just prepared them for new planting & don’t want them viewed as nice fluffy litter boxes. Sometimes it works, sometimes I have to remove a bucket of soil from one spot & start over. Thankfully we don’t have massive squirrel populations here – strange – but nice not to have to worry.

    My concern with that number of cats in a ‘smallish’ space would be their predatory habits towards the birds. Get rid of the cats!! Good luck!

  5. Welcome to home ownership, Gayla. It’s part and parcel of having a larger space, especially a larger outdoor space. Our cats and the small dog who lives downstairs go outside on a regular basis so we really don’t get any feline visitors. Sometimes they’ll walk through our yard on the way to somewhere else, but they don’t linger. Squirrels, on the other hand, have a great time in our yard. I don’t mind because they have plenty of THEIR normal food in the form of maple keys and other seeds to keep them happy. I never have squirrel bites on my tomatoes and they don’t dig up my tulips. Same with raccoons. I think our yard is just such a great natural habitat that wildlife don’t really need to eat the stuff I grow. I’ve even seen a raccoon on the bird feeder. I was really sleepy one morning, way before I’d had any coffee and my first thought was ‘that’s one big honking squirrel’. I mean, come on, who expects to see a raccoon hanging upside down at a bird feeder?

    Bottom line, I have a live and let live policy with wildlife. Sure, they get the cherries at the top of the tree (birds more than anyone else), but I’m not going to get those anyway so someone should be eating them. My personal garden nemeses are the insects. They do a lot more damage than anything else.

  6. Oh the cats! I have 4 regular cats in my yard – all belonging to neighbors. At first I didn’t really want them in the yard but I also didn’t want to chase them away (I’m also a cat fanatic, with 3 of my own indoor cats). But now I actually really like having them around and since they spend most of their time in my yard throughout the summer (our yard is the only dog-free/child-free one on the block), I’ve gotten to know them quite well. In fact, this last summer when our next door neighbor lost one of the cats to an accident, my husband and I cried on and off for days.

    Anyway, I’ve learned to live with the cats because it seems they do more good than harm in the yard. For the most part, they just sleep in the yard, but they also control pests (mostly mice, but also took care of a prairie dog problem I had earlier in the Spring, which was turning into a huge mess very quickly – I’m not sure if you get prairie dogs in Ontario, but they are destructive little creatures digging holes and tunnels everywhere). And I find that as long as my garden has no big patches of bare soil, they won’t use it as a litter box (I usually just cover the vegetable garden with mesh cloth when it isn’t being used in the fall and winter).

    Anyway, good luck!

  7. UUggghhh….. I feeeeeeeel your pain. Honestly. I have a decent sized yard considering living in the city and I have the biggest problem with the neighbor cat and 2 squirrels. The neighbor cat, or neighbkitty furry feathered creature slayer as we call him/her/hopefully it, hides under bushes to stalk my birds. I’ve seen it strut its stuff with a few prizes, not cool cat. I wouldn’t mind so much if it went after the huge flock of grackles/starlings (can never tell) but it doesn’t. Nor does it go after the obnoxious squirrel that chastises me from the roof of the neighbor’s house. I yell back at him to stay out of my bulbs/birdfeeder/yard in general, no success yet. My newest ploy to combat these pests is to send in a higher predator in aka my dog after them. I’m hoping that a I-don’t-ever-want-to-go-back-there/what-the-hell-was-that-thing attitude will form over time. So in short… Get a dog. They’re lovely. Or wait, and I’ll let you know how it works out next spring.

    Small disclaimer: The dog has never successfully caught anything he’s ever chased, we have a fenced in yard so “pests” can escape to safety, he lives with cats, and his morning mantra is “Cats are friends, not food”. My post was facetious. (sorta).

  8. Sorry, Gayla. My previous comment was a glib, knee-jerk reaction to your problem. I have gardened in Toronto for over 30 yrs. and have finally accepted the fact that cats, dogs, squirrels, raccoons, rats and other critters share the same space. I have tried hissing, growling, running madly around with a broom, shooting off water guns, marking territory (that’s my husbands job!), moth balls, Critter Off, Piss-Off Plants (Plectranthus ‘Sumcol 01″) and even humane trapping and relocation. Note: “Other beasties move in.” So I’m hoping someone has some new ideas.

  9. Ugh! I have the same problem with my neighbor’s cat. I heard any urine will work though. My husband’s urine might not be as potent as a wolf’s but it does the trick… until it rains at lest. I never knew there was such a thing as the water scarecrow, I’m thrilled that this really exists.

  10. A dog isn’t an option. We have a 16 year old cat who is afraid of dogs. It wouldn’t be fair to her.

    For the most part I am live and let live because there are no real solutions. It’s not the cats, but their poo that concerns me. We found some nasty poos when we moved in and there isn’t even bare earth yet.

    I can live with the squirrels. So far they haven’t caused problems, but then again, there is little out there right now for them to damage

  11. Cats don’t like mud. You might have to deal with some plants getting wet, but it won’t take them long to find somewhere else to hang out. Turn on a super cheap sprinkler that doesn’t actually use that much water.

    Squirrels on the other – one of those little buzzards is currently ripping shingles off my roof to try to get into my attic. Nothing keeps them out of the yard, ever. Give up on that.

  12. I am going to follow your progress in the new place with even more interest- I moved into a house with small garden in heart of downtown Toronto in April and we have many squirrels, neighbourhood cats -that also poo in the weirdest places-, a visiting possum and a racoon family living in the large maple at the foot of the garden ( the garden is only maybe 14 feet by 25 feet at most!) I didn’t plant any edibles this summer as early seedlings were decimated and I feared the worst for any other forays, figured I’d take the summer to learn the animals habits and then the winter to plan my next move. I don’t have any useful advice, but sure hope you or some other commenter shows me its possible to grow food with so much animal life in such a small space. I know that country gardeners deal with critters too, but in the city it is a concentrated population that doesn’t really have anywhere but my and my neighbours gardens to roam in. I swear, if I looked out and saw a moose walk by it wouldn’t surprise me now!

  13. I have had some luck with scattering used coffee grounds around the garden area. It seemed to keep out both the neighbor’s cats and the rabbit that lived under the porch. If you’ve got ‘em around, might as well scatter them. They’d just be going in the compost anyway.

  14. We use something called Cal here in Costa Rica which I believe is lime in the US. It is a white powdery substance that we sprinkle on the places we don’t want our neighbors cat to “use”.

  15. You will never get rid of squirrels. You can use moth balls, human hair, and cayenne pepper to try and keep them out of your beds (I’ve also heard that menstrual blood if you use a cup cloth pads will also scare away prey mammals) – but in the end they will always win *sigh*.

    I had a squirrel who even dug up my garlic. They would take a bite, realize they didn’t like it and leave it to dry out on the pathway.

    In terms of the cats water is great deterent, but I’m all about responsible pet ownership and holding their owners to account – do any of them have tags? If you snap some photos of the tagless ones you can ask around to see who they belong to and ask the owners for their help in reining them in. But as you actually use your yard and keep scaring them away they should taper off.

  16. One word: Dogs! Unless of course you have cats in the yard who aren’t afraid of dogs. I have a little dog and the neighbor’s cat still stays on the top of the fence at a respectful distance.

  17. Stinky old cats. We have a raggedy motley crew of them in our garden as well. I can’t tell you how to get rid of them, but I can say: cats are better than rats, and it seems that a good cat year is a bad rat year… So at least there’s that.

    And the squirrels have actually had the deed to our property signed over to themselves. So unfortunately I can’t help you with them either.

  18. We had the same trouble with neighborhood cats. We ended up putting a layer of chicken wire flat on top of the soil in our planting beds so the cats couldn’t scratch and it would feel unpleasant under their feet and they quickly decided to go elsewhere. These were for landscaping beds, though, and I realize they wouldn’t at all be practical for gardening purposes. I can hope maybe it’ll help with ideas for you as it worked really well.

    We also used motion activated water sprayers meant to discourage cats in our back yard, we used the Scarecrow type. And they seemed to work great, but they can also be triggered by plants that blow in the wind. We used to hear them going off and frightening raccoons in the middle of the night as well.

    I’ve also heard there is a type of Coleus that cats apparently don’t like the scent of. Our neighbors put cracked hazelnut shells in their planting beds and the cats went away, unfortunately the mice moved back in.

    Good luck Gayla!

  19. A lot of people up here in Muskoka use the Scarecrow type sprinklers to deal with both deer and raccoon problems with a lot of success. It doesn’t actually use a lot f water, just when it senses a movement. Warning – turn it off before wandering outside!
    I put my orange peels in my front garden where an unwelcome cat like to visit and it works quite well. It’s only suitable for a small area though.
    In regards to cayenne/hot pepper – if the squirrels or cats rub it in their eyes it can cause blindness.
    Good Luck!

  20. I just moved to a house in February, and OMG the cats. The horrible cats. Look, I love cats. I have two of my own – who live indoors. But the neighbors’ cats ALL come to our yard for their toilet needs – I have counted eight or more in a day. They dig up every new thing I plant to poo. The yard is constantly thick with hordes of flies (and the smell gets awful if I don’t clean it every few days). I can tell you that shouting at them hasn’t worked for me after 9 months – the buggers don’t even run from me now, they just slowly amble to the other side of the fence. An auto sprinkler isn’t an option because of the space shape and size, alas. Smell deterrants don’t seem to work (and are very expensive). And talking to the neighbors, well, what are they going to do? Suddenly decide to keep their 8 cars inside all the time?

    Anyway, yesterday 2 super soakers arrived, one for the balcony and one for the downstairs deck. I. Am. Done.

  21. Unfortunately a dog doesn’t always do the trick. I have a lovely hound who chases the squirrels (she really likes to tree things), and the cats definitely steer clear (because she wants to chase them too!) when she’s out in the yard, but she certainly can’t be out there 24/7, and the people in my neighbourhood… well, there’s always cats around, let’s put it that way. So unless someone has a strictly outdoor dog, that’s not a sure thing.

    I’m taking a four pronged approach this summer since I’ve discovered what a huge problem the cats are in my yard:
    1. Citrus peel
    2. Cayenne pepper
    3. Bamboo skewers
    4. Chicken wire

    It might seem a little overboard, but because I have a neighbour who finds it necessary to leave cat food out for all the neighbourhood cats, I have quite a bit of a problem with cat shit already, and that’s before I’ve even had a chance to put in my three extra beds (along with the two already finished). As you said, it’s really unhealthy, and I don’t want anything turning me off my food come harvest time!

  22. Oh – as a note: coyote (you can also get cougar) pee does work, but it dissipates really fast when it rains. So it can get quite expensive. Doesn’t seem to bother raccoons from what I’ve seen either (although it does work on deer).

    And the coleus (piss-off plants) doesn’t work that well either. Tried it, works for maybe a few square feet tops, but not for any large space (and of course not all cats are bothered by it). You’d have to plant them every 2ft or so, which is completely impractical for a garden of any size at all in my opinion.

  23. It’s so funny reading that post now, my line about “I’m also not about to ask someone to keep their outside cat inside, that’s just mean.” – oh how my views have changed. I wish people would keep their cats inside unless they are trained to stay in their own yard, or on a leash. I’ve seen too many birds killed in my yards due to domestic cats. :(

    The scarecrow sprinkler is amazing, years later I still have it, it’s still working after spending 5 years outside in the elements. I have it positioned so I can come up behind it and switch it off when I want to walk around the yard, then I turn it back on when I go inside.

  24. Maybe it was already mentioned, but there is a product called Catstop made by Contech. It works well and you can target specific areas and move it around. You would want to position it to not bother your indoor kitty. It puts out an ultrasonic sound that cats don’t like. It can burn through the batteries, but there is an optional AC adaptor you can get.

  25. I just got a email newsletter this morning about this very problem – you can read about it here: http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=165

    The most interesting part was apparently cats aren’t scared by ranting humans after a while…shame, because I’m quite good at that.

    I have one rogue cat that insists on using my vegie patch as it’s stomping ground – it has trampled (and killed) many seedlings and gets under our house. When I finally find out who owns it, I have absolutely no problem asking them to keep their cat inside. I think it’s really unfair for the surrounding neighbours to deal with the problem instead of the cat owner. More importantly than my vegie patch, though, is the native animals (birds, lizards, frogs, bats, possums, flying foxes, etc) that get killed because of domestic cats. Both my parents are environmental scientists and all it takes is one stray cat for me to whip out my soapbox and preach to my neighbours! Although it might sound terribly heartless (I am NOT a cat lover as some others clearly are), I have no objection to calling the pound to pick up a cat that has killed a native animal. I’m not sure about everywhere else, but in Australia, predatory pets are taken pretty seriously by local council.

    Anyway, my point is that although I understand not everyone wants to alienate their neighbours by telling them to keep their cats under control, it makes much more sense to me that native animals are prioritised. I’m not advocating cruelty to domestic pets by any means, just responsible ownership and consequences for those who don’t look after them.

  26. I’ve had good luck with bamboo skewers spaced 4 inches apart. After they have been there awhile, the cats give up and move on. I also place chicken wire over dormant beds.

  27. I don’t have any good tips–I have cats and squirrels, too! I just accept the fact that gardening is going to involve some failures and annoyances.
    But I really wanted to condemn the use of animal urine as a repellent. This is an industry that should be boycotted due to the abhorrent conditions in which the coyotes and other animals are kept in order to collect their urine. They are penned in very small cages their entire lives with catheters attached to their urethras. This is beyond cruel and disgusting. Please DON’T buy these products!

  28. I don’t have any good strategies yet, but I am fighting the same battle.

    In fact, I have been following your amazing advice (via books and web) for ages and I am starting to get a little freaked out by the parallels. I was making the best of my less-than-ideal veggie garden in the yard of my rental for years, and then last fall my husband and I got our first house . . . finally a yard of our own! I am so excited that you are now going through the same thing so I can see how you navigate some of the joys and frustrations of starting fresh with a new garden space.

    Last year was mostly about observing and planning, and playing a guessing game about what was going to pop up next. Sort of a year-long safari/archeological investigation to piece together clues about the gardening habits of the previous owners.

    Then, before even meeting any of our human neighbours, we started meeting the cats. Well, we met their poo first, then the cats. I did finally meet one of the neighbours who owns one of the cats. I was slaving away in the front yard, putting an end to the field-day some invasive plants had been having (for years, I suspect), adding some compost to the rock-hard soil, and starting to nurture the long-starved existing shrubs and trees. I was making small talk with my neighbour (probably our 2nd conversation ever) when her cat confidently pranced into my yard and then settled himself in one of his usual spots (I couldn’t shoo him as normal, as I was a bit outnumbered). She lightly said “oh, I hope you don’t mind” to which I replied that I didn’t mind the cat, but that I hoped he would be deterred from using my yard as a litter box now that there was more activity in the gardens. She then kind of sighed, and said I was sort of asking for it by exposing all that soil–really what did I expect when creating such an ideal spot? In the interest of not alienating my neighbours right off the bat, I bit my tongue, but I was horrified that she was kind of laughing about the whole thing and telling me it was my fault for wanting to dig into the soil and build a garden!

    Needless to say, I have only really resorted to running around like a crazy loud person whenever I see the cat (but not with owner in tow) to hope he finds a more relaxing atmosphere elsewhere, but I know I will need to step up my game next season.

    I don’t want any animal enemies (human or feline), but I also want to hold my own and enjoy my first ever garden that’s all my own. Keep the new yard posts coming, as they are helping me immensely.

  29. Pick your battles.

    As for the squirrels, are they actually hurting anything? In my last garden, squirrels meant severe badness. One squirrels would eat anything and everything and come back later and destroy everything they didn’t get on the first pass. My current garden is full of squirrels. They don’t do anything that in any way hurts my garden or any of my plants, so I ignore them and they ignore me.

    My neighbor’s cat was horrible last spring. I tried row covers and they worked reasonably well. I knew that wouldn’t work when the weather was warmer and I wanted things uncovered so I put out a bunch of ground up dried thai chilis that had gone south because I didn’t realize the year before that chliis don’t actually dry in this climate’s humidity. Covering the entire surface of the vegetable beds with mouldy thai chili bits kept the cats out very well. And on top of that, tons of them sprouted, so I had this incidental thai chili living mulch that was even better at keeping the cats out than just the ground chilis on their own. My mother in law swears by thorns, so next spring I’m going to lay down the trimmings from the rose bush and gooseberry bushes strategically around the beds as well.

  30. too bad about the cats, millions of birds die every year because of cats roaming around outside,
    dangerous for the cats too

    one lady I “met” on a forum grew her garden inside a (former) gated chain link kennel, so enclosed on 4 tall sides & over the top

  31. Oh Gayla, I feel your pain. I didn’t need to see the number of replies before knowing that this is a contentious issue (free-roaming cats). It pains my heart often. I, too, am unapologetically crazy about cats (and have a big, stripey 15-year old tabbygirl of my own) who used to be a farm cat with liberal going-out priveleges and who now who is strictly indoors unless directly supervised in our fenced backyard. But not so the neeghbor cats. Check out the American Bird Conservancy/Cats Indoor Campaign [www.abc.org] for ideas on how to keep the “riffraff” out.

  32. We have a good portion of our yard enclosed so that our cats can spend time outdoors safely, and that’s where I do most of my gardening. Squirrels (and birds and any other rodents) that venture into the enclosure do not have a long life expectancy – my cats are hunters.

    Unfortunately, there is also a neighborhood cat that will come and sit on our front step while my cats are indoors and it just drives one of my cats insane. He howls and throws himself at the door trying to get out there. We are cat lovers too, so I feel bad having to chase the neighbor cat off, but we have no choice. My husband started throwing water at it, and now it runs when it sees us coming, but it keeps coming back. No solution to offer, but I feel your pain.

    Our biggest issue with the gaden is deer. Everything inside the fence is fine, but every thing outside the fence is deer salad bar. I enjoy seeing the deer wandering around, but I wish I could keep them from eating my garden.

  33. Hard to stay mad at such sweet little cat-faces…

    I wish I could offer solutions for keeping the pesky kitties away from your garden (and grub!)

    I’m a big cat-fan too, whenever I’m driving around the neighborhood I will stop the car and roll down the window to talk to a cat I pass. Ur…good thing I’m not home enough to have a pet. I have the great starter-qualities of a Crazy Cat Lady.

  34. On the owner responsibility topic: I think this is a really good point. I spoke to my neighbour on one side as soon as we moved in. already They have a cat but it stays indoors. She has no idea who all of these cats belong to. They have a dog that is sometimes out in the yard… another reason why the cats are in my yard! The people on the other side of us don’t speak english so communication is tricky.

  35. Our German Shepherd and his good buddies, the two outdoor barn cats, do a good job of keeping viting cats out of the fenced yard part of out ranch. The problem arose when we put up eight long “window box” type plastic pots along the railing across the front porch. Our cats said, “Thank you very much for the new Porta Potties!” I’m guessing that there must have been something in the potting soil that attracted them. I went to the 99 Cent Store and bought a bunch of cheap white plastic forks. I planted my flower seeds and then stuck the forks, handle end down, every few inches all over the top of the soil. The cats were properly offended by this and it kept them off. When the plants grew up enough to fill in the space I pulled out the forks.

  36. While I’ve spent much of the past ten years living with a couple of (indoor) cats I’m not too found of them generaly, particularly outdoor cats. We’ve been fortunate not to have any problems with cats in our yard, however in the past I’ve had to deal with the odours and mess of wandering cats and did not appreciate it. My parents still have to deal with this in their yard and now occasionally use a live trap to try and deal with a nuisance animal. I’m sure a cat won’t enjoy the experience much but isn’t harmed. Where they live the cat’s owner has to pay for room and board at the shelter before they can get it back. If the bylaw officer picks the cat up the owner will also have to pay for a license. The hope is the cost might encourage the owners to keep their pets indoors.

  37. Live in the Pacific Northwest, and hazelnut shells are commonly used as mulch…it’s sharp edges keep the cats away

  38. Why not borrow a dog during the day? I lent my dog to my parents when then had a bunny infestation (it was bad or I would have told them to leave the bunnies alone). Riley took care of the probem in less than 2 weeks. Our yard is also cat free and as long as he is outside – squirrel free. I have a mouse in my house that I can’t get rid of – can your cat catch mice? Maybe we could trade for a week :)

  39. Nico, my Italian Greyhound, is my gardening buddy and best weapon against those unwanted little critters. That said, this morning I struck a truce with our feline intruder when I saw him chasing a rat scampering out of my compost heap. There is new construction nearby and those nasty little vermin have come to forage in my yard. Not sure how to get rid of them and hope Mr. Sourpuss will do the trick.

  40. The two things that have worked for us are cayenne pepper and pepper flakes. Cheap and easy to apply. They work especially well if your cats have specific areas they frequent.

  41. Raccoons — trap and remove in a humane trap — cost for trap about 60.00, but a good investment — also used for groundhogs. Use salmon as a bait for raccoons, and a ripe tomato ( before your garden tomatoes are ripe ). If you leave the trap open at night ( necessary to trap a coon ) you may get a skunk. Wait until it is asleep during the day — place a large piece of plastic quietly over the trap. They will not spray when they are covered because they would spray themselves. Move slowly and carefully release the lock, leaving the door up, and back away. The skunk will leave. Never use chicken or turkey cat food as bait. You will get a skunk for sure.

    Squirrels are not much of a problem in my garden. Early in the spring rabbits like to chew my tulip leaves, so I use lots of old freezer baskets and bird cages to cover them for awhile. Once they get to the top of the freezer baskets, it is usually safe to remove them.

    To keep cats, raccoons etc. from digging under my porches I had wire mesh installed underground. Where I could not do this because of large shrubs, I used bunched up deer netting I bought at Walmart. You really get a great deal in a package. It was not all that expensive. This works really well. Creatures do not want to get their feet tangled up in it. I laid it around the ground at the bottom of my sunflowers to stop the squirrels. That is one thing they will destroy when the seeds are ripe. You can also lay the netting over fruit bushes, like raspberries, or weight it down and put it on the ground. I think I will do this after my vegetable garden is rototilled to keep cats away. I put bunches around the base of tomatoe plants to stop any groundhogs.

    Cats are a terrible health hazard if they are not de-wormed. Even if they are, their “dirt” can cause e-coli problems. This happened to a neighbour’s well water. My neighbours range from people who love cats, and those who have resorted to bi bi guns. Apparently that really scares them. I have trapped and removed some feral cats, but our humane society is overwhelmed, and can’t take anymore. I may try some bamboo stakes, and use deer netting to make a fence around the veggies.

    A friend, who has a market gardening business in the country tells me that she uses a single strand of fishing line on fence posts, about 4 ft. off the ground all around her gardens, and so far it is keeping the deer away. Apparently the theory is that it scares them because it is almost invisible, and they are not sure what it is.

    Hope this helps.
    Amber

  42. Two things i found useful in getting rid of squirrels and insects. 1) Coffee grounds/Cayenne pepper mix! Animals quickly learn to avoid your plants and 2)eggshells. I tried both and to my amazement, the squirrels who would normally climb up to my balcony to dig up my potted plants avoided them like the plague!
    Or you could plant a patch of Catgrass/Catnip far from your favorites to locallize their reign of terror, but that may attract thier friends.

  43. If nothing else works (and I’ve tried most of them) at least I have the satisfaction, early every morning, of taking my little cat poo shovel – dedicated to that one chore- and tossing the cat poo from my herb garden back over the hedge into my neighbour’s garden – it’s her cat so it’s her poo, is my theory. I have no use for it and having it quietly seeping around the roots of the herbs I use in food preparation is not something I’m going to let happen. I do the arm-waving and the shouting bit too and keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water handy for sightings. They may not work entirely but at least they let me feel I am at least joining battle actively rather than just letting the cats have everything their own way. They may still come into my garden but it’s as hair-raising an experience for the neighbourhood cats as I can make it.

    Why do we let these uncivilized people get away with this antisocial nonsense?

  44. This year we are making the leap from just a few pots of veggies to an entire patch. Unfortunately the only patch we have has been taken over by cats :( This article and all the comments have been infinitely useful and I intend to cover the ground with cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, egg shells and a mini fence of bamboo skewers and plastic forks. I have also ordered some dried lion dung offline, not sure if this is a novelty more than anything else but will let you know how it works out. Thanks for the great advice!

  45. Although I’m sympathetic to your cat dilemma, squirrels are a native species. If you feed birds, squirrels aren’t far behind. As for the cats, you are not alone. In my state, bird lovers are at war with feral cats and thankfully our laws are on the bird’s side. I’ve found that the hose is a great deterrent and cats are pretty smart, so when they see you, they’ll soon associate you with the hose and high-tail it. Maybe a random irrigation nozzle on a timer at night will help. Now, I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your neighbors, but if they let their animals run wild, maybe a visit from animal control would let them know that someone in the neighborhood doesn’t appreciate Fluffy using other people’s yards as the local hang-out. I know it’s kind of extreme, but you have the right to defend your property. Good Luck and happy planting!

  46. Haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anyone has recommended this or not, but a BB gun works wonders for both squirrels and cats and it won’t injure them, just sting them enough to make it unpleasant to come in your yard without first thinking about it. We use this tactic and it has worked wonders for the dogs that get in our garbage, squirrels in the bird feeder, feral cats spraying on the porch and digging in the gardens.

    I also have a spray bottle filled with vinegar & water and it works at keeping cats away from the bird feeder, not sure it would keep them out of your yard for good though.

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