How to keep cats from bombing our yard?
September 24, 2008 7:00 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep cats from crapping in our front yard?

A neighbor down the street (we suspect old lady, we never see her) has several cats, some apparently (or maybe just one - we never catch the culprits in the act) who use our small patch of front garden as a litterbox. It stinks up the front walk something terrible.

An automatic sprinkler or something would be awesome, but that's not really feasible.

I've done some googling, but a lot of the results seem heavily anecdotal or folklorish - I'm looking for real solutions, and it's hard to tell which have basis in fact, and which are just wishful thinking.

tiny vials of ammonia? (won't that stink too?) buy coyote pee? or bobcat urine? (mentioned in an earlier askme - where the heck do I find that in an urban area?) coffee grounds?

Please, help us, MetaFilter, you're our only hope!
posted by canine epigram to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cocoa mulch and landscaping fabric might be an option if the yard isn't huge.
posted by giraffe at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2008

I've heard that Shake-Away works well. And it's organic for you PETA members. ;)

Also cayenne pepper is supposed to work too.
posted by axltea at 7:37 PM on September 24, 2008

I had good success at keeping cats away with this commercial product (home depot carries it), the gel blobs survived daily watering and kept their scent for a long time. However, it worked a little too well: I found the scent nauseating and ended up avoiding that section of my garden for several weeks.

Now I just scatter citrus peels, refreshed weekly, which works for most cats.
posted by jamaro at 7:51 PM on September 24, 2008

Best answer: This is a fun one. You may need a lot to cover your whole yard though.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:50 PM on September 24, 2008

This is where you get predator urine. If you are in a rainy area like Vancouver, forget it. Otherwise I think it would be worth a shot.
posted by Listener at 8:52 PM on September 24, 2008

Best answer: We've had good luck sprinkling coffee grounds in the areas where we find the doodoo. It blends into the ground, it doesn't smell, it's non-toxic, and seems to interrupt whatever site-selection criteria they have.
posted by scarabic at 9:07 PM on September 24, 2008

Seconding both cayenne pepper and coffee grounds...both have worked for me in the past, and I have no reason to think they won't work for you, too. Someone else suggested oyster shells broken up into small pieces, but I have no idea where you'd get them. Maybe from an oyster ranch.
posted by motown missile at 1:16 AM on September 25, 2008

Best answer: Sticks.

Make a nice pattern of crisscrossed sticks and small tree or shrub branches. Cats .. A) hate high-stepping over them and B) don't have room to dig. The sticks need to be big enough so they aren't all that easily dislodged; about 2 cm/ 0.75 inches in diameter is good. Plants can easily grow. If you don't have plants that cover the ground, then make the pattern pleasing.

This really works.
posted by reflecked at 1:52 AM on September 25, 2008

Response by poster: My wife is concerned that cayenne might hurt or blind the cats if they step in it, and then rub their eyes. Any info on that? I don't want to be a kitty-blinder!
posted by canine epigram at 5:52 AM on September 25, 2008

Response by poster: I'd have the same concern about cocoa mulch as the original poster - lots of dogs in the area, I'm planning on getting a dog as well.

Anything that smells nauseating is right out - this is right by our front walk, remember? I don't want to replace the nauseating smell of cat shit with the nauseating smell of [insert product here]

Is the predator urine so stinky that even I'll be smelling it days after application?

Any gardeners know - what would adding coffee ground regularly (say once a week) do to the soil composition?

That motion-detector spray thing looks awesome (and I was joking darkly to my wife about exactly that sort of product). It's a fairly small strip - say 3 feet deep by 6 feet wide, so maybe that's an option. I'll probably try the cheaper ideas first.
posted by canine epigram at 5:59 AM on September 25, 2008

I had this same problem about 10 years ago and the method I used worked great. I bought these mats that you bury shallowly in the dirt but have pliable, plastic "prongs" that sticked upwards barely out of the dirt. When "installed" you could not see them. When cats walked on them, they were uncomfortable and they left the area.

I was worried that they would be harmful to cats' feet, but they were not as the prongs were very pliable. Because I was very worried about this though, I went overboard and did not put them in one area where cats might jump down onto them from high up. Just in case.

I am not sure where I bought them, but they really did work wonders and no kitties were harmed in the process.
posted by murrey at 6:26 AM on September 25, 2008

They are called cat scat . Here is a link.,default,pd.html

The picture shows them placed on top of the dirt. I preferred the look of them buried with just a hint of the prongs sticking out.
posted by murrey at 6:33 AM on September 25, 2008

To be fair, I suggested that product because it worked really well. It smelled gross to me but none of my (human) guests complained, so it doesn't smell bad to everyone. Might be worth a sniff test at the hardware store, if you happen across it.

I have a Ssscat. The effective range is about the width of a loveseat.
posted by jamaro at 8:23 AM on September 25, 2008

Can you keep the area moist? Hose or watering can OK for you?

I have two stable cats who used to use our front yard and garden as a toilet. Flowerbeds, sandy paths, you name it. I couldn't use citrus peel, coffee grounds or commercial cat repellants, because the area is too big.

Then someone recommended simply keeping the problem areas moist. The trick works! After I started watering the flowerbeds, paths and other sandy areas twice a day, the giant litterbox issue hasn't been an issue.
posted by kaarne at 9:57 AM on September 25, 2008

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