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Damned Cats FAQ

This is FAQ was compiled from several threads on the subject of cats and their toilet habits that originally took place in the newsgroup during April of 1999 and has been ongoing ever since. Indeed, it is rumoured that the first question Adam asked in the Garden of Eden concerned cats and their indiscriminate bowels!
I've tried to correctly attribute what was actually said, and cover all of the suggested remedies, but if you find a mistake or an omission, let me know.
To make finding the specific info that you want a little easier, I've highlighted the questions and indented the answers.


Laurence Welch asked,
"Can anyone tell me the best way to stop cats sh*tting on my lawn?"

  • Sacha suggested, that there are a "range of 'remedies' from buying a dog to buying a large water pistol and many choices in between"

  • The Junkyard Dog added, "Buying your own cat is a good idea too."

  • When it comes to seed trays, Pat Winstanley writes, "As an extra, I have discovered a way to stop my cats singing with glee at seed boxes... they won't touch them if there is a plug tray inside the seed tray. I *have* to put a lid on the flat trays, regardless of the size of the seedlings/plants in the tray.

  • Mike Hibbert said, "I think the most ineffective way I tried was when someone told me that cats hate snakes. I dutifully went and bought a plactic snake that looked very realistic." Sad to say, Mike didn't have much success with the snake.

  • Mark Furniss complained, "I have tried using pepper (from DIY Stores) which seems to work until it rains then the damn thing is back before I have a chance to put more pepper down." Other urglers recommend ground chilli peppers, but be careful!

  • Jason Webb came forward with this bright idea, "I have just built a DIY cat scarer on the basis of a water spray using a PIR sensor. I have put the plans up on a web page at http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/csx1jw/cs.htm
    It's fairly costly, but if you're desperate it'll probably be the next best thing to a shotgun!"

Janet Ibbotson expanded the discussion with a further question.
"I have just put grass seed on my garden and have planted a couple of plants but all the cats in the neighbourhood seem to use my freshly dug garden as a toilet. Is there anything I can do to stop them digging up my garden, and using it as a toilet?"

  • Judith Lea replied, "Camphor, as in mothballs, break them into pieces and scatter, they last quite a long time despite rain etc."

  • Pete Matthews offered this comprehensive advice, "I have found that laying Blackberry cuttings down does the trick, I create a 6" square grid over the area with the thorny bits and this keeps them off completely after the first initial attempts. When the seedling come up you can rearrange the cuttings. (Wear gloves when doing this).
    This has kept my garden free of cat droppings for the last couple of years. Sadly it does not stop the Tom from spaying at various points along the path, a well aimed boot stopped it spaying up the front door. I had to resort to chemical warfare to stop the spaying elsewhere, several small bottles of ammonia buried in the ground up to the neck at the spayed points put a stop to this until heavy rain washed the bottles out but they lasted for eight months.
    To stop them crapping on the lawn just keep the grass short, they only like to do it in the longer grass or on soil to spread the smell. It is a cats way of marking territorial boundaries so you just have to define their territory for them. You can really confuse them and create cat squabbles by moving the dropping of one cat into the territory of another but this only results in more crapping when the boundaries are re-established."

  • Jon S Green added, "Provided it's not too large, strew the newly-grassed area with something like hawthorn cuttings, or some other sharp or twiggy stick.
    And/or get yourself a supersoaker-type water pistol/rifle thingy and give 'em a wash every time they try to ignore the sticks. If you *really* want to make the point, fill it with your own urine. Hey, it'll do the garden good, too, if you dilute it a bit first."

  • Charles Wm. Dimmick piped up, "I suggest getting a mixture of allylisothiocyanate and oil of citronelle, and applying it liberally to the soil in a two-foot wide strip around the garden. If you can't get allylisothiocyanate, substitute freshly prepared horseradish.

  • Philip Herlihy came up with, "Get all your unwanted CDs and put them upright in the soil. The cats see their own reflections and run away. It works - honest!
Mike Crowe asked,
"How about these Electronic Cat Scarer things the sort which give off a high frequency sound which, while inaudible to humans makes a bit of a `din` to the cats?"

To which Jason Webb replied, "I have a neighbour who tells me that his neighbour on the other side has one of these devices and the cats simply ignore it or pee on it, so not much of a success that I can report."

Stephen Diaper later wrote, "I think that I have found a solution to cats fouling your garden. Spray Jeyes Fluid around the perimeter. Use quite a strong solution. Save your old tea bags, soak in Jeyes and plant in your boarders. You must persevere with the treatment, remove any fouling and spray area. It does seem to work."

Nicky suggested, "I use cocktail sticks, just plant them upright 5 or 6 inches apart in your beds, borders and pots and if a cat comes along to do its business it'll get a sharp reminder that it's not welcome."

Dan Marchant came up with, "Saw a TV show where they tested out a number of remedies. None of them actually worked! The best solution for stopping this seems to be to get a cat of your own. It won't crap on its own patch and it won't let others either."

Jill Bell, who knows about these things, being 'in the trade', added,
" Water pistol - Prickly prunings on flower beds. - Oil of citronella"

Mike Peters popped up with "Renardine which Game Keepers spray around the young pheasant pens to keep the foxes at bay. It is used quite successfully and I am told moggys dislike it as much.
The downside is that your garden would smell like a chemical plant, and I do not mean the flowering kind :-)
I imagine it would break the cycle of cats pooing if you used it for a short spell. Agricultural suppliers should stock it".

Stuart Allen came in late, but brought this gem with him, "we used some cocoa shell mulch all over the beds and this has stopped them completely"

And Andy Slater suggested this one from the X-files, "Get a couple of old 2 litre plastic lemonade bottles, half fill them with water (so they don't blow away) and leave them lying around in the garden. Don't ask me why it works, but it does."

Mike Crowe returned to the discussion with "We do not have a cat, but they all use our garden for their 'toilet requirements' (that's posh isn't it?). However we have been told, that strategically placed used teabags with a few drops of Olbas Oil on them will deter the little sods. We've tried it, don't know the result yet, only just put them down."

From the colonies, Noman wrote, "Try a solution of witchhazel or cinnamom oil or menthol which you pour around the plants or on the gravel. I have had success with this. About a 0.2% solution or 2 mls. per liter should do it and a couple of drops of dish detergent will be needed to disperse it. Repeat this every couple of weeks and soon the cats will just give up trying to decorate your grave. You can get these materials at any drug store."

The V-Man suggested, "In answer to your cat problem, I found that if you soak used tea bag's in Jeyes fluid and place them at different points around your garden, this should keep them away. It works for me in my garden, as they luv my pebbles and bark chippings, they used to dig and sh*t all the time. Try it and see !"

And finally, I'll added my two-pennorth - Lion/Tiger dung. Once your neighbourhood cats catch the whiff of a *real* cat, they'll stay well away. You might be able to get some from your local zoo, animal sanctuary or Safari Park.


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