The poop is definitely in the box (er, raised bed), how do I get it out
March 10, 2015 7:41 AM   Subscribe

What do I do about the cat poop in my raised beds if I don't want to get rid of the cats? I have a little feral/community cat colony in my (urban) backyard. They have chosen two of my raised beds as their toilet. Now that the snow has melted the smell is kicking in. I don't want to drive the cats away, but I would like my backyard to not smell of sewage and maybe even use those beds for non-edibles. Anyone have ideas?

They've chosen my smallest raised bed, and a bed surrounding a tree. My ideal solution is that they do not poop in my beds at all, but I'm concerned if I make the beds unattractive to them they'll just poop in a corner of my yard.

I've heard some people put in a kiddie pool and fill it with sand, but my yard is not big enough to attractively accommodate that. And how would I change it once it got full of pee? Plus, I am imagining having guests over: "Oh, what's that?" "That's my cat poop pool. Pay it no mind!"

Worst comes to worst, I am OK with sacrificing one of the current pooped-in beds to the cats if it will keep them out of all the others. However, I would like to mitigate the smell and biowaste aspect, and ideally I could dress it up somehow so it did not look like a giant litterbox.

Does anyone have better ideas?

To head off concerns: I have shelters and feeding stations, any cats that wander in get spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and I've already cleared out all the adoptable stray cats (over 10!). The ~2-4 remaining are too feral to become pets. My neighbors are OK with the cat rescuing as many of them were feeding them anyway, and this keeps the cats out of their own backyards.
posted by schroedinger to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get a bag of hot pepper powder from an Asian grocery store. Apply liberally.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:58 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Scoop it every day, just like you would a litter box.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:59 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

To keep them out of the beds you want to use for edibles, or to convert a current poop bed into a flower bed, you can use a layer of mesh (like chicken wire or 1-2" plastic grid) placed above the soil and below any mulch you might use. Plants will grow up through it, but it keeps any animal from digging down.

Even without mesh, use of mulch makes the bed less appealing; cats like fine-grained stuff, sandy soil, etc. You could create a sandier area in one bed that would become the pooping place; while that means you'd have to do stink mitigation, at least it would be localized.
posted by aimedwander at 8:04 AM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Motion-detecting sprinklers. Cats will typically get the idea that a specific area is off-limits and not the rest of the yard.
posted by Nyx at 8:06 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hot pepper is cruel, it can cause severe pain & eye damage, PLEASE do not use pepper!
I would try to create an area the ferals will use, as others have noted, you'll need to clean it daily as you would an indoor cat's litter. Okay, maybe not daily realistically, but every few days will make it easier on you. Our old feral used to go potty right in front of us, while she meowed at us! It was cute although she did burn our lawn a little.

If you want to keep the beds clean, I'd remove as much of the dirtied soil as possible, replace w/new soil then use a rocky mulch, something the cats won't want to walk on. Small jagged pea gravel, maybe cocoa shell mulch? A lot of people have success sprinkling moth balls around too. But you'll need to give them somewhere else to go, somewhere more desirable. Thanks for caring for the ferals, they need people like you to watch out for them. Our feral male only lived a yr or two after we TNR'D him but the female lived about 6 yrs & gave us so much pleasure. She also kept all other cats away, I miss her, now we're overrun w/neighborhood kitties.


Kitties and Pepper

Some cats won't be affected by the smell of cayenne pepper and it will not deter them from coming into the garden. It can, however, get all over their paws and fur when they walk around your garden. While grooming, these unfortunate felines will rub the spicy substance in their eyes or on their nose, causing them painful irritation, redness and discomfort. Because of this reason, you may want to use other, less potentially cruel methods to deter kitties in your neighborhood or your own furry buddy from getting into your plants.

Other types of kitty deterrents such as orange or lemon peels scattered around your garden and pine-cone mulch may be more effective than cayenne pepper and won't harm any neighborhood felines. If you're worried about kitties munching on potentially toxic plants, use fencing and plant netting to block them from the plants instead of cayenne pepper -- this way they can't get to them at all.
Another option is to plant a kitty garden in a small corner of your yard, away from your main garden. Include some catnip plants and barley grass in this cat-specific area, to provide a safe and more attractive alternative for the felines to nibble on than your other plants.

Saw a hilarious suggestion on, bonus points for being both effective and really funny imo

The quick, fun and extremely entertaining way to repel a cat is...the Boogie Bass. Remember that singing fish a few years back? It's a wall mounted, motion activated novelty item?

My neighbor's cat used my planter for a potty. I love cats and have one myself, but didn't like it anymore than you do. I dug through my closet and found the boogie bass. I put it in the flower bed and covered it with a very thin layer of mulch. I then sat in anticipation as the cat approached, and to this day wish I had videotaped the event. The cat shows up, sniffs around a little, and then starts to stratch out his spot. The boogie bass springs up out of the mulch and starts singing, "Ain't we got fun". The cat jumps about 5' straight up into to air, darts back over to his yard, and I haven't seen him in there since. I still crack up when I think about it. It was just so funny and very effective.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 8:27 AM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

A friend has had good luck keeping her cats away from potted plants by putting orange peels on top of the soil. You would have to eat a lot of oranges, I think, to use this effectively outside. But another strong smelling substance might work.
posted by Adridne at 8:36 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Coyote urine?

Gotta say, those are two words I didn't expect to type today.
posted by sapere aude at 9:12 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chicken wire or weedmatting. A very thick layer of straw mulch, heck even a bark mulch as long as the pieces were large, watered down well so it's harder for them to dig up & move would also most likely help, basically anything that is difficult to dig. Plus side it will cut back on weeding too.

If you don't mind them pooping somewhere else make usre that area is easy to dig and throw any poops you find over there to encourage them to go there instead.
posted by wwax at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mothballs are pesticides, which can poison cats, who are more sensitive to them to dogs, and can cause organ failure, seizures and difficulty breathing in cats. So, if you don't want to use pepper because it's cruel--or if you don't want to poison your ferals--don't use moth balls.

Chicken wire, weedmatting and an alternate sandy spot for defecation are your safest routes.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:04 AM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Maybe essential oils of orange and lemon, if you don't want to eat that many oranges? From my cat experience, they can't stand citrus. You could even make it into a spray and it might help the odor issue too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:16 AM on March 10, 2015

They've gotta go somewhere right? So make one of them the more attractive spot and the other less. Mix some cedar bark chips into the dirt of the chosen box, just enough to add the smell and make sure it is well raked and soft. Plan to clean it out regularly (by rake). The cedar and dirt will filter out the rest.
Plant stuff in the "no" box that is discouraging, like heather, onions, or basil (works on mine) and mulch with something discouraging like cedar chunks (as distinguished from ceder chips). There might be one or two attempts but they will switch as long as "their" box is attractive. I've also been known to put rose clippings in planters to extend the message.
The trick is to have somewhere that they like to use coupled by enough cedar in the soil to cover the smell as it breaks down. That will make it a sustainable compromise on both sides.
posted by dness2 at 10:38 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Bury a layer of 2" chicken wire just below the surface (or ON the surface) so they can't dig; plant through the holes.

We also provided my cat with a decoy: a decommissioned recycling bin filled with potting soil. She went right for it!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2015

Cat scat mats, from Garden Supply. They work!
posted by mmiddle at 2:31 PM on March 10, 2015

I did not know moth balls can be toxic to cats/wildlife, I retract my mothballs suggestion and thanks to crush-onastick for correcting me.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 5:35 PM on March 10, 2015

We had good luck convincing a cat to take his business elsewhere by surrounding our beds with hazelnut shell mulch.
posted by pheide at 6:55 AM on March 11, 2015

« Older Best location for emergency funds   |   Never? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.