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Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Posted by megret7 none (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 9, 11 at 10:11

I have a raised bed (built last year) that gave us a summer's worth of beautiful vegetables and herbs.

In the fall, I planted spinach, lettuce and carrots. Throughout the fall and early winter our cat decided to use the raised bed as a litter box. Cat poop is semi-buried and on the surface throughout the bed. I didn't eat any of the cool weather veggies; it killed me to just pull them and throw them out.

I am getting ready to put my indoor veggie seedlings out and don't want a repeat occurrence. I've heard so many solutions: Fence (which seems silly for a small raised bed), planting lavender around the edge, sprinkling cayenne (and reapplying after rain), even putting dog hair (from a groomer) around the perimeter to discourage cats (and even deer).

Does anyone know of a good, cheap, easy fix for this?

And before planting, should I just skim off the top 3-4" of littered soil or empty the entire bed and start over with new soil?

Thanks in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Exactly to be expected. There is exactly zero reason to pull plants.

My solution is to use cut blackberry canes, or some other sharp deterrent such as sweetgum seed pods, purchased consumer products to repel cats when they step on it, etc. Fortunately, around here we have so many coyotes and raptors that wandering cats don't last long.

Dan


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I have a neighborhood cat that likes to use my beds as a toilet. I scoop out any #2s as I find them. I don't worry about the rest. No need to replace your dirt as long as you get out any solid waste. It might be time for you to bring in a few bags of compost anyway and you can turn that into your soil then soak it down good. Water will dilute anything you're concerned about, but really, don't worry about your soil being contaminated. Animals have been pooping on farms for centuries.

Once you've planted your plants, I've found there's only one way to keep the cats out and that's to cover the soil with something they don't like. It could be a heavy layer of straw, pine needles (nice and prickly), or plastic sheet mulch, etc. I use either chicken wire or deer netting. I cut strips of it that will fit perfectly between my rows of veggies and secure it down with landscape tacks (those U shaped metal prongs that hold down landscaping fabric).

Through years of gardening and years of having/dealing with cats, that is the ONLY thing that I've found works. Chicken manure, pepper, plants...none of that has ever worked for me. But covering the soil with something they can't scratch over is 100% effective.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

If you will search 'cat or dog poop' here you'll find many discussions and recommendation to read. however it all boils down to fencing and no, it isn't silly for a small raised bed and it is easy to do.

In a discussion from just last week we discussed the use of the 8-10" high pieces of plastic stick-in-the-ground fencing that are cheap, easy to insert, easy to remove for access, decorative, and effective. A couple of us even posted links and pictures of them in use.

Dave


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

We had this problem with a stray we had been feeding. The local No Kill Animal Shelter solved the problem for $ 40.00.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I feel your pain. I was dealing with both stray and pet cat poo since I put in my beds. It doesn't help that my neighbor has an outdoor cat with with food bowl. It seems like every stray female goes there to have their kittens. I was scooping out 2-3 piles of poo a day.

Most everything I tried really didn't work. The plastic fence worked okay, but if I didn't fasten the bottom they would just crawl underneath it. Coffee grounds, skewers w/points out, leaf mulch...none of it deterred them. A carpet covering worked okay but I hated the look. I finally broke down and purchased a Contech Scarecrow. I haven't scooped out any poo in the weeks I've been using it. Best thing I found so far.

Good luck...


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I went the deer netting route. I placed over the beds and as I plant in a 12" square of the bed I pull it back to that spot and tack strips in between the plants. I like the deer netting because it is black and not so obvious like silver chicken wire.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I use the bird netting, clipping it to the sides of the bed. If the crops are tall ones, pound slats into the corners of the bed and clip the netting to them.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

mister_gin are you an SRP customer? I was told we have so much salt and dissolved solids in our water that I should avoid spraying the leaves on plants. (We don't have filtration system) Not entirely but that it should not be done often. I'm not sure I want my plants and fruit trees being hit by water 10-20-30 times a day.

Other than the hard water problem here I think the Contech Scarecrow looks like a great product.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Toxoplasma is killed by cooking. Why throw away the veggies?


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Carpet tack strip is another way to go. I have seen cats jump feet in the air after landing on it.

Dan


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

My cat does that in my garden too. I really don't worry about it as much as you. I still eat the veggies and I CERTAINLY would not go so far as to replace all the soil.

The veggies are all washed before eating, so I don't think I'm at any more risk of disease than I am from cleaning the litterboxes.

Besides, even if MY cat didn't poop in there, there are plenty of other animals that would, wild and domestic. Which is, again, why I wash all my veggies and wash my hands after playing in the garden.

The main thing that bugs me about it is not so much the poop, but the digging. He sometimes digs up newly sprouted or planted seedlings. Then again, just yesterday I found that a spiny lizard dug up one of my pole beans in the process of digging some kind of burrow or nest or something (I wonder if it's going to lay eggs in there). So again, plenty of critters out there pooping and digging already.

I'm actually more worried about accidentally eating a snail in my salad and getting some sort of parasite from that, but that's because I saw a TV show where that happened.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

thisisme,

Yes, I'm with SRP. The water is pretty hard, but I've never thought about what it might do to the leaves. This is the first I've heard about not spraying the plants here. I've used the hose to spray my plants many times and I haven't seen or had any ill effects by it.

The Scarecrow really doesn't put out that much water. The paperwork claims it only uses 3 cups every time it's set off. It sprays in an arc, so the water is spread around some. Mine probably only goes off a few times a day, if that. I've only seen it go off once during these windy days. And some larger birds will occasionally set it off. Our cat problem is at night and I've heard it go of once or twice then. Probably happens more, but I'm to busy sleeping to notice :-)

The first one of these I got was defective. It wouldn't detect motion all that well at night and it would go off constantly as soon as the morning sun hit it. Ran the battery out in 2 days or so. Got it exchanged and now all is well. I'd say I'm on 3-4 weeks now with no overuse and the battery is still fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scarecrow protected area (scarecrow on left)


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I do know that cooking kills most germs -- but my main concern were things that we eat raw and have crevices that make it difficult to completely clean (especially spinach).

Neohippie, I also get frustrated with the digging aspect of it, too -- our cat uprooted several carrots before they were ready because their stems are so web-like and caught in her claws while digging.

I'm leaning toward the deer netting idea -- since my beds will include trellised tomato plants right along with low-to-the ground small varities (like radishes), would it be better to make a fence around the outside (perhaps with aid of stakes at each corner) rather than to cover the soil in strips?


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Things that poop in gardens. Just to put things into perspective. :)

Worms
Dung Beetles (and any other kind of beetles)
Grasshoppers
Mice
Rats
Pill bugs
Slugs
Grubs
Squirrels
Rabbits
Skunks
Armadillos (if you have them)
Chipmunks
Ants
Caterpillars
Flies
Deer
Cows (if you have them and they get loose)
Chickens (if free range)
Birds - all kinds and all sizes
Wild Turkeys (if you have them)
Goats (if you have and they get loose)
Snakes
Cats
Dogs

And 99% if them you never see so you never worry about. Not to mention that you have no way of knowing what pooped in the field where your store bought food was grown but you eat it anyway.

Wash your food, get a vegetable brush for root vegetables, get a salad spinner for leafy greens, wash your hands, cook your food properly and accept that your garden is not, and never will be, a sterile environment.

Dave


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I tack strips of it between my rows of plants. "So far" the cat that poops in my beds won't go as far as to try to get in between the plants, so for me, it's just a few strips between the rows--easy to tack down and pull up (unless it's windy). Like someone else said, I like it because it's nearly invisible and it lasts a long time (I roll up the strips and reuse them season to season). So, aside from the time I have to spend putting it all down--thinking all the while how pissed I am for having to do it ;-)--once it's there, I can virtually forget about it and it's not ruining the aesthetic of my garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

A very effective, but more expensive solution is the motion activated water sprayer called a scarecrow. For an inexpensive, but effective, solution: use forks. Cheap, plastic forks, prongs up, in any bare spot where the cats are going. I actually did this today in my spinach bed:

Photobucket

Not beautiful, but it is hard to find a comfortable spot to dig and squat with forks everywhere. I remove them as the plants get larger.

Bellatrix


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I'm with Loribee2 and the netting folks.

If cats can't scratch in the dirt, they will go somewhere else. Strips of chicken wire will prevent them from scratching.

A large piece of netting over the entire bed will discourage them, too.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

bella_trix the plastic forks are a nice touch and very practical. Much better than metal forks purchased from the Goodwill or Salvation Army. With the plastic forks if you were to stumble and fall on your raised bed there is little chance you will fork yourself.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

But dont you all worry about the plants uptaking anything that gets left behind and watered into the soil from the poo and pee?


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I don't know how practical this solution is for you because of the size of your garden, but it worked wonders for me as I had stray dogs and cats thinking I had provided them with a litter box. I bought 1/2 pound of habenaro peppers in the grocery store and ground them in a food processor and mixed them with two gallons of water and poured the solution around the perimeter of my garden. It worked like a charm, the only problem is you have to repeat it every two to three weeks to keep it strong enough for a repellant.

I watched the cats and dogs from my window stroll up to the garden and sniff then turn tail and run away.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I actually use plastic forks as a memory aid for myself I put them in where I have planted seeds so I know not to replant otehrs there. I wondered why the (numerous) local cats never went in my raised beds that must be why (too many forks).


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

loribee2, I have a new basil bed that's just germinated and that a cat has adopted as a litter box. Once the plants are a little larger, I could cover it with chopped straw, though (to avoid smothering the seedlings) I only want a 1/2" layer. Do you think that would work? Or will the cat scrape through the straw and trash what's left of the bed?


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

  • Posted by t-bird Chicago 5/6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 4, 11 at 14:20

while making the veg bed less accessible/attractive to the cat, also put out a nearby litterbox or build a small sandbox for her.

A 2x2 bed of 6x1 inch lumber, fill with sand - she will likely find that more attractive than dirt.

maybe find some stinging nettle to line the veg bed with, driving her to the sandbox.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

We had this problem last year with ours and a neighbor's cats in our beds. We found success at keeping them out by placing orange peels at each corner and about midway down each side. We would twist them a bit to release more aroma. The only negative is that they dry out very quickly, so you have to do this every 2-3 days.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Scrunched up bird netting just set on top of your beds will discourage digging...by cats and chickens :) Easy to remove or to lift as plants grow and can be reused again and again.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Hello All! - This is the first summer my cats have been allowed to roam the backyard, so I knew they would be curious about my 6 - 3' x 3' raised beds of my veggie garden. I bought a few packages of 'Cat Scat' on-line from Gardener's Supply - www.gardeners.com - item #31-954. A set of 5 8-1/2" x 7" plastic mats have flexible plastic spikes to 'discourage feline excavation'. The description near the picture says 'prickly plastic teeth confuse and irritate cats without harming them'. I put 2 mats in 2 beds in-between some plants, and so far, my kitties haven't bothered my garden.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Get out the fudgesicles! I put popsicle sticks everywhere Much like the fork garden! And don't seem to have any problems.
When I used to find the poops, I'd get a trowel and fling them over the fence to the neighbor's yard who supplied the cats! NT


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I'll bet wooden barbecue skewers would work nicely.

Well, I covered the bed with brush and we'll see how that does.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

The cat climbed over and pushed aside the brush to continue scratching in the bed. I'm off to pick up some bamboo skewers (sigh).


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

dan_staley QUOTE:
"My solution is to use cut blackberry canes"

Yup, that's what we've been using for years, highly recommended and works like a charm (from a family with 5 cats). Anything with thorns on it works plus it still let's the light through, it's not labor intensive (wear gloves) and it's cheap. Good luck :)


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I'm game. Do you surround the bed with the canes, or lay them over the top?


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I just found this discussion because I now have this problem. I would think that blackberry canes around the edge wouldn't deter them, as they would jump over. I am going to try forks, dried hard sharp holly leaves, etc. What about eating the vegetables raw? I grow most of mine for salad and smoothies.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 14:34

What about eating the vegetables raw? I grow most of mine for salad and smoothies.

As mentioned several times above, assuming you wash everything well before eating there is no need for concern.

Dave


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

"But dont you all worry about the plants uptaking anything that gets left behind and watered into the soil from the poo and pee?"

Soil is basically just decomposed poo, pee, leaves, and dead animals.

Plants don't take up bacteria. They don't take up animal viruses. The big worry with feces in garden beds is it getting splashed onto leaf vegetables that are then eaten raw without being sufficiently cleaned.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Last year I had the problem of cats thinking the garden is a litter box. We own 5 cats so getting rid of them is not an option. I did a few things, and so far this season no cats pooping in the garden beds.

1. I used a thick layer of No Float cypress mulch. When it was a thin layer they just pushed it to the side. When I doubled that they quit pooping in it, and have not since. It is large, and chunky. They do not like to dig in it. They will cross the garden, and lay in it. I am fine with that. My white tabby mix likes to catch grass hoppers in the garden. The only problem is he likes to bring them into my wife while they are still alive. Also the mulch will help to hold in the water in the heat of summer. Here that is a good thing.

2. Planted cat nip on the side of the house. 4 out of 5 of our cats go bonkers for it. They love it. I had to put some sticks in it to keep them from rolling it to death. I have 3 plants in 2 planters.

3. I put a litter box out for them. I scoop the box a couple of times a week. Seems they like the box for its ease of digging as opposed to the chunky cypress chips.

Here is pic of the beds. The cat nip is not shown, nor is the litter box.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

This used to be a major problem in my yard. One of my neighbors had upwards of 60 cats! Cat's have poor digestive systems and that's why their crap smells so bad. It's poison to humans and dogs(my dogs have got sick).

Watching the birds I can see why they pick to nest in a thorn bush, cats hate thorns.

Chicken wire is a possible solution too. It's relatively cheap and lasts a long time.

Cats are easily spooked so noise makers are useful like pie tins.

I actually make it very personal with the cats in my neighborhood. They're more afraid of me than my dog. If I see them crossing the street I will make sure they know I can see them. sounds sill, perhaps insane to some but cats a territorial. If you give them an inch they'll crap a mile. Everytime i see one I make sure my dog knows so the cat knows as well I am watching them like a hawk.

If your bed is 4 feet wide you could lay tack strips across it. I don't think a cat would like to step on those. I like the plastic fork idea.

Just always remember when a cat does this they are telling you that you no longer own the land they do. A cat only responds to force. You have to show em who is boss. Cats in my neighborhood will stalk my dog on her walks. To make sure my dog is not humiliated I will walk they other way and let her lunge at the cat. It's really a war. I think cat owners are very inconsiderate. Cats are feral and eat live things and their feces are full of dangerous bacteria.

One other step is a trap and turn the cat over to the pound and then the owner thinks twice after having to bail their cat out $$.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

My grandmother kept a BB gun by the door in case she saw any cats invading her garden. It was rather effective, never saw the same cat back again twice.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Another thing worth mention is a trick I learned when I lived in grizzly bear country. It kept critters out of the trash, and gardens. You would have to see the damage a moose can do to a garden at night, much less a cat.

Place some tampons soaked in ammonia (Janitorial strength. It cost about $2 or so at most hardware stores.) around the bed. When I was in bear country they were tied every few feet on the fence of the garden. Also we hung them on the trash cans as well. When trash was taken out we had a jar to freshen up the ones on the dumpster. No critters got close to anywhere they were hung up.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

I had the same problem at our previous house, but I was just growing flowers. The stench was so bad I didn't want to go near the raised bed. I know it's controversial, but the bottom line is cats belong indoors. The city I live in has a strict code about this, and my two cats never go outside. I mean, if you had a ferret would you let it run all over the neighborhood? And then there's the fact that dogs have to be confined. I eventually started trapping cats in a Havahart trap in my backyard and then turned them over to the city. But we've since moved to an area that actually has coyotes around it, so hopefully most people will keep their cats safely indoors.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Did you try the cayenne pepper powder? I don't know about cats, but it works wonders for armadillos. I'd go either that route or the scarecrow/motion activated sprinklers. I feel your pain because even though I don't have a garden, I have outdoor cats come around to the windows to mess with my indoor kitties. One of them actually destroyed my screen, and I don't know who owned it so I couldn't make them pay. Good luck with keeping the cats out.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

•Posted by williammorgan 6b (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:15

"Cat's have poor digestive systems and that's why their crap smells so bad. It's poison to humans and dogs(my dogs have got sick). "

And dog poop is . . .?

"Cats are easily spooked so noise makers are useful like pie tins. " This is a good idea,

"Just always remember when a cat does this they are telling you that you no longer own the land they do. A cat only responds to force. You have to show em who is boss. Cats in my neighborhood will stalk my dog on her walks. To make sure my dog is not humiliated I will walk they other way and let her lunge at the cat. It's really a war. I think cat owners are very inconsiderate. Cats are feral and eat live things and their feces are full of dangerous bacteria. "

You can't be serious about any of this last paragraph.

Really, the cats are not stalking your dog. I guarantee it.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

The problem has resolved itself, at least for now. I never got around to doing anything like mulch or other physical barriers. The garden grew over any bare patches and is a messy but productive space. I think my cats were attracted to the fresh uncovered soil, and as long as it is. covered they go elsewhere. BTW, one of them killed a baby mole and left it untouched. I finally buried it, they dug it up, I re-buries and covered with a huge rock, and they uncovered it again. Very confusing. They go to great lengths to dig up a vole they wouldn't touch before, yet they are deterred by a few stalks in the veggie bed.


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RE: Cat using raised bed as litter box -- help!

Glad to hear the problem resolved itself for now, although it sounds like you have the problem of an overgrown garden now. lol
Anyway, moving forward I agree with what many others have posted about putting obstacles in your garden. Cats are very finicky about where they do their business. If their are obstacles in the way such as boards, large rocks, garden décor, even plastic forks, the cats won't poop there. I have a hosta bed mulched with pine straw that the neighborhood cats thought was a fine litter box. I used pieces of scrap wood as obstacles and the cats stopped pooping there. It wasn't very aesthetic but it solved the problem. It also made for an interesting conversation starter. lol
Get creative with the obstacles and barriers. For example, you might try placing stepping stones in between your rows of veggies. Not only would they prove to be effective obstacles, but would also give you something to walk on while you harvest your garden. And you could avoid it getting overgrown in the future. Just a thought...

This post was edited by plantingman on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 16:45


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