Obviously, keeping your cat indoors is the best life for your cat, and the best solution for keeping your flower beds in tact, but there are others who may not always keep their cats in door and stray cats are also out there.
The first thing you need to think about when dealing with cats outdoors (and even your indoor cats) is that they are spayed and neutered. If they are strays, often your local SPCA or local rescue groups can help you with TNR (trap-neuter-return) efforts. This does a couple of important things. First, the cats stop reproducing, keeping the number of outdoor cats minimized. Second, with male cats no longer in tact they are less likely to spray and fight.
Now to the issue of your flower bed. Cats and other critters can wreak havoc on your gardens and flower beds. Cats have a natural instinct to dig and flower beds are perfect places for them to do their business when they come across one.
Finding humane and effective ways of deterring cats and other critters from using your flower bed as a litter box are varied, and although all cats are different in what will work, there is most likely something on this list that will help.
First, we will start by using natural remedies to keep cats away from your flower beds.
- Use odors that are unpleasant to cats as a deterrent, such as citrus in the form of lemongrass, citronella, orange or lemon peels. Coffee grounds, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and Tabasco can also work for some cats.
- Use plants that cats don’t like in your garden, such as marigolds and rue
If none of these seem to work on your cats, you can find some other humane methods to deter them from digging.
- If you are just starting a garden, or are replanting in the spring, try using lattice just under the surface of your soil, cutting holes for the areas where you will be planting your flowers. You can also use chicken wire in the same manner.
- If you are not replanting and have a full garden, you can try a scat mat. This is another humane alternative that is plastic and has small blunt points facing up that the cats won’t like against their paws.
- If these options are not possible, you can also use devices such as a motion activated ultrasonic sound machine or motion activated sprinklers. With ultrasonic sound, you will not be able to hear this but other pets in the vicinity will, so you will need to keep that in mind.
- Although this option isn’t the prettiest, you could also choose to put up cat-proof fencing.
Once you have found a solution that works for both you and the cats, the most important step in behavior modification is to provide an alternative for the behavior you find unpleasant. Since cats naturally dig, your best option here is to provide a safe place for the cats to be able to continue digging. Create an area with top soil or sand, something they can easily dig in that isn’t your garden. Plant catnip and catmint around the designated area to let the cats know this is the acceptable spot where the can be a cat!
Cats are very sanitary creatures, so keep this area clean so that they continue to use it and don’t find something else to get their paws into!
Finally, once you have found the ideal solution for your cats and your flower beds, share this info with neighbors! If everyone participates in making the neighborhood friendly then we can all co-exist happily!