What will catnip do to my neighbourhood cats?
June 25, 2015 4:51 AM   Subscribe

Our front yard (6ft x 20ft slate chippings) has become the neighbourhood litter tray. All the traditional solutions tried, I've started wondering about planting catnip. My thinking is that is the area is an area for happy stoner cats, it's less likely to be a litter tray. Unfortunately, I can't see anything on the internet that suggests an answer either way. Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence they'd care to throw my way?
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
My unscientific instinct is that the catnip will attract even more cats, which will in turn lead to even more cat scat in the yard. I think you'd have better luck with things like cat-repelling plants (hot peppers, maybe?) or physical deterrents like motion-activated water sprinklers.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:07 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Anecdotally, the wandering cats in my neighborhood occasionally snack on our catnip, but it doesn't seem to affect their behavior either way. Our problem is not so much pooping but them being aggressive towards our indoor cat when they see her in the windows.
posted by lydhre at 5:09 AM on June 25, 2015

Based on my experience, the most likely result is that they'll eat all the catnip down to the stems before it has a chance to take root. If you do plant catnip, cover it with some wire mesh until it's really well established.
posted by mr vino at 5:31 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

I once tried to grow fresh catnip, because my cat is indifferent to it. That night there was an impressively large catfight on my balcony, and all the plants had been eaten, even the ones that weren't catnip.

I don't think the catnip will last long enough to have the effect you want.
posted by jeather at 6:01 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

My cats love the fresh catnip I grow, but I keep it in an area where there are no cats so it can actually grow.

I'm not sure this will solve your problem though.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:01 AM on June 25, 2015

I have two large catnip plants out front, and a couple more in the back, and while I occasionally have neighbor cats wander through, the catnip has not been eaten, or at least not noticeably. I have *something* defecating in my yard, but I'm pretty sure it's a raccoon, which also likes hanging around.

I don't think getting them stoned is the solution, though. You could get a motion-activated sprinkler.
posted by Slinga at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW catnip makes my cats paranoid and violent. This seems like a bad idea.
posted by gatorae at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cats want to bury their shit. No sense in advertising to the entire cat neighborhood that your yard is interesting. They will have a cat bacchanalia and then shit all over your diggable yard.

You would have better luck fencing it in than filling it full of cat-attracting plants. A lot of cats (but not all of them!) will be too lazy to climb a fence just to take a crap when they could crap under the next house's rose bushes. And that's really what you want. Let them crap under her rose bushes.
posted by pracowity at 6:14 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

You may enjoy this website re: safe, cat repelling gardening: http://catsaway.org.
posted by bimbam at 6:17 AM on June 25, 2015

There are known cat repellent plants that you can grow, like common rue or tansy.

Also, catnip and tansy are very invasive plants. Common rue can cause bad skin rashes on some people.
posted by bCat at 6:18 AM on June 25, 2015

Catnip is very invasive and hard to get rid of once it establishes.

One common trick is to put down 1/2" nylon mesh bird netting. Can you put that under you slate chips?
posted by bonehead at 7:48 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Based on my experience, the most likely result is that they'll eat all the catnip down to the stems before it has a chance to take root. If you do plant catnip, cover it with some wire mesh until it's really well established.

My experience was that I covered it in mesh and let it grow to a nice plant, then the cat ate it down to the roots ten minutes after I took the mesh off. Sounds like this was a good thing with the invasiveness, but I never got that far. So it seems like a not so great idea all round to me, sorry.
posted by shelleycat at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2015

I don't think catnip will work the way you envision. And, as noted above, it's aggressive and a hard plant to contain.

How sharp are the slate chips? When I moved into my house I discovered that the neighbor cat(s) used the area under my front window as a litter area. I replaced the mulch with sharpish rocks purchased at my local nursery. (The Home Depot ones were too soft.) I then stuck bamboo skewers into the ground, sharp points up, about every two inches throughout the rocks. Not beautiful but it worked, I cleared the sticks away about 6 months later and no cat poop since.
posted by stowaway at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2015

I have several large catnip plants in both my front and back yards. It's a great perennial plant. I have at least three neighbor cats and an untold number of non-neighbor's cats who stroll through/hang out in my yard. The catnip does fine, but I wouldn't call it a cat magnet - I rarely see one of them paying attention to it. I don't find it hard to grow at all, and I also don't find that it's terribly invasive.

Cats like to cover their poop. If they have an area that is more attractive than the slate chips, they will poop there. Or you could plant things that cats don't like. Catnip, IMX, is not likely to make any difference.
posted by caryatid at 9:12 AM on June 25, 2015

Oh, and please don't use cayenne pepper to deter animals of any kind. It's cruel. They only know it's there when it gets in their eyes or nose, and then they scratch at themselves to get rid of it. They could claw their own eyes out, or if they get it on their paws they could ingest it and get very sick.
posted by caryatid at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

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