How to Keep Cats out of the Garden
Keeping on top of weeds is hard enough in any garden, but add to that little parcels of cat pooh, and it can be a nightmare. Here's a tale of some of the things we've tried to solve the problem.
Just the Odd One
At first, it wasn't so bad. There were only a couple of cats in our cul-de-sac. We knew what time they got kicked out of the house in the morning, and would simply chase 'em off with a growl and a hiss.
Then, over time, the population increased, and of course so did the little smelly parcels.
We filled the borders so they had less space, but they loved the newly-turned soil. We tried tea bags soaked in Jeyes Fluid, but then we couldn't smell the flowers. We tried garlic - it took root and started to grow. 'Cat-scat' products didn't work for long, mainly because of our wet weather. Mothballs worked for a while, but only in the immediate area.
In the same vein, we planted 'Scaredy Cat'. This has had mixed reviews, and I think it's all down to the strength of its smell. However, it's not hardy, and so it's better left in its pot and moved around. By the way, ours smelled like cat pee. Hmmm...
Prickly plants were discussed, but I didn't like the idea of damage to paws, so that was dismissed. We did, however, invest in some prickle sticks for the top of the fence - cats would not walk on the plastic spikes, but as it was fairly expensive we only put it in strategic places. A determined cat would still get in. I added a 'fence-topper' of criss-cross lattice, but of course, the cats would just squeeze underneath.
We did, however, dig out the ol' cap gun. This, for those who haven't seen one, is a toy gun with a trigger and 'hammer', which makes a sharp cracking noise when pulled.
As most cats hate water, we tried a water pistol, but they usually leaked all over the carpet before we could even open the door. Besides, we had something better in mind. More on that later.
We found an old catapult, too. Licorice torpedoes were most effective ammo. We never aimed for the cats themselves (couldn't if we tried) but a thwack on the fence nearby did make 'em run. Trouble was, our neighbours started to see more colourful borders, as bright sweets nestled in their gardens.
Sonic Boom... and Bombs Away!
We also got a repeller gizmo that emitted a sound that cats wouldn't like. Trouble is, it also repelled birds - and the batteries didn't last very long.
Next up was water bombs. We had huge fun filling the little balloons with water and then knotting these - we always ended up soaked. The balloons, however, usually refused to burst and would just lie there, waiting to be picked up. That's when they'd pop.
I hit upon the idea of trying 'Bombing' of a different kind - Yarn Bombing. Not as dramatic as one might think; simply an outdoor woolly (or in this case stringy) 'installation'.
Yes, it was wobbly, but that, together with the prickle (which can also be seen in the picture), was sure to do the trick. We would see.
Wet Wet Wet...
To be honest, short of getting a dog, we were running out of options. Everyone else in the street now had a pooch, it seemed - was ours the only 'safe' garden?
Then I saw it. A combination of all that we, as mere humans, had been trying to achieve. The ultimate cat deterrent - the Automatic Water Sprayer. All we'd need was a hose and a handful of batteries. Brilliant.
Once the AA batteries were installed, this would be placed near where the cats frequented (that covered most of the garden, so we stuck it in one corner) and linked up to the garden hose. Hey presto, it would trigger a spray when PIR - Passive Infra Red - detected movement.
Ah. Yes... movement.
Birds set it off. Flowers set it off. Young son set it off. All got a soaking.
Cat came in - true to form, the spray arched high over the lawn - and missed the cat entirely. Some adjustment was clearly called for. I still reckon it's a good product, though.
In the end, during a huge garden clear out, we discovered that there was a fence panel missing behind the shed - cats had been able to amble in despite all our 'decorations'.
This was fixed, and, as part of the revamp, we ordered some lovely blue flint. This was spread over the borders at the front, and has made all the difference both to the look of the garden, and to the number of 'cat gifts'. They just don't like the surface.
OK, so it isn't the best garden in the world, but we like it.