Cat poop in the pansies.
April 20, 2020 3:24 PM   Subscribe

My lovely neighbor just informed me my cat has been using her perennial flower beds at a litter box. I would like to change this cat behavior while maintaining good relations with said neighbor. Short of making my raised-as-a-barn-cat rescue into an inside cat, what actions should I take? I am looking for product and training recommendations. I have already cleaned up all the existing poop from her flower bed. I will be purchasing any products we use to tackle this issue. The cat has an indoor litter box that she happily uses when she is inside.

My very last last last resort is turning my little beastie into a inside cat. Please don't suggest it, I'm already aware that path is available to me, and will use it if needed.
posted by Grandysaur to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can squirt the cat with a water gun if you catch it in the act. (Or give the neighbor a squirt bottle and permission.)

I’d buy a bunch of cheap capsaicin powder and apply it liberally to the bed, it should be pretty off-putting.

If that doesn’t work you could get a motion sensor hooked up to an alarm.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Motion sensor hooked to garden hose/sprinkler thing. (Capsaicin is painful rather than just startling, and I’d avoid that.) Just need to make it so neighbor can turn it off if they want to garden there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:48 PM on April 20, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah motion sensor impulse sprinkler can help with this. Thank you for doing something about this—I have had issues with cats shitting in my flower beds in multiple properties and it is the worst.
posted by HotToddy at 3:53 PM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Thank you for paying the cat tax!

Our neighbourhood gardening group always recommends burying some plastic forks, tines up, just below the soil so it's uncomfortable to walk on - or you can buy something called "scat mats." Some cats might not like the scent of orange or lemon peels, or coffee grounds. There are other safe scent deterrents, like lavender or predator urine (we use one to keep raccoons away from our pond, and the neighbourhood cats seem to stay away too) They also don't like human hair, so you can spread that around to see if it's enough to gross your cat out.

When the two feral cats we cared for used our neighbour's garden, we'd just check their favourite spot frequently and pick it up with dog waste bags. We also tried to keep a patch of ground that would be more tempting for them in our yard - like an outdoor litter box. That only worked sometimes. Cats are weird.

Cayenne/Capsaicin can cause cats painful irritation for cats, squirrels or other creatures' noses and eyes when it moves from their fur or paws when cleaning themselves - it could do more harm than good.
posted by peagood at 3:58 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Build a catio or put your cat on a leash.
posted by juliapangolin at 4:22 PM on April 20, 2020 [10 favorites]

I have indoor cats, but had a problem with them digging in large houseplant pots. I got some sheets of plastic spiky material made for this purpose at a dollar store - works like a charm. Cut as need be to fit around plants. Anecdotally, I have heard that covering the soil with pinecones will deter feline visitors.
posted by fish tick at 4:35 PM on April 20, 2020

Best answer: I would suggest getting some cat scat mat and cutting it to fit around the pansies.
Your cat will soon decide to poop elsewhere
posted by brookeb at 4:42 PM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Twiggy sticks, laid across any tempting patches of bare soil. Rue plants as a gift to the neighbour (sap is an irritant when exposed to light, and also can be toxic, but grown ornamentaly - see here). Or the member of the mint family aptly known as the piss-off plant.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:53 PM on April 20, 2020

Best answer: Do you have a covered spot you can put an outdoor litter box? She might use it instead if it was convenient enough, along with making the pansies less attractive.
posted by lemonade at 6:52 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've had luck with ornamental flat rocks placed around the plants so as not to leave tempting soil exposed. And make sure the "right place" is nice and tempting - both increase the scooping frequency inside and maybe arrange an out of the way sandy spot with a catnip border in your own garden?
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:07 AM on April 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Something that has worked for me and many others is cocoa mulch. It is sold at many garden centers and is the hull of cocoa beans so it smells like chocolate. Mulch her beds for her. The cats don't like to walk on it or dig at it. Seriously, this is the answer you have been searching for.
posted by eleslie at 6:01 AM on April 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

We have had great success with chicken wire. Get a large piece to cover the area they piss/poop in. Cut holes for existing plants, seeds can grow right up through the chicken wire. Lay that down, use rocks in the corners to pin it down. This will work, and the only drawback is you want to be careful of sharp edges on the holes you cut. A good pair of gardening gloves solves that problem.

Please if you are considering using cocoa mulch, be sure no dogs visit the garden as it is toxic to dogs and can be lethal if the good dogs eat some.

Good luck!
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:46 AM on April 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

When my last cat got too old to jump the fence into the forest and started using my vegetable beds as her litter box, I bought an outdoor litter box. I was skeptical because I thought it'd get fly-blown pretty quickly. But I used a really good Bentonite clumping litter, scooped out the lumps every day and the design didn't attract flies at all.
posted by essexjan at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2020

If either you or neighbour have a dog, you might want to avoid the cocoa mulch. Apparently most dogs will not eat it but it can be dangerous to the ones that will.
posted by andraste at 10:00 PM on April 23, 2020

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