How to Stop Cats from Using Your Garden as a Litterbox

How to stop cats from using your yard as a litterbox

Whether it’s your neighbour’s cat that uses your gorgeous flower bed as a toilet, or the feral cats that share your street, watching them pee and poop in your yard is, to say the least, annoying.

I absolutely love cats, and I never minded when my neighbour’s kitty came to visit. What I did mind was finding he was peeing on my outdoor couches. I don’t mind saying that really pissed me off…no pun intended!

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you buy something I may receive a commission. This has no effect on the price you pay, but will help raise money for my spay/neuter project in Jerusalem.*

Why they’re digging

It’s a cat’s natural instinct to dig, so when they come across loose soil, sand or even mulch they’re having a field day.

How to stop it

There are a lot of suggestions for how to stop this behaviour, so that’s encouraging. Please note that not everything listed is guaranteed to work in every situation. You may need time to test the different methods to see which one is the most successful. A combination of steps could be the solution or rotating what you do may help as well.

Stop feeding the birds

Birds attract cats and if you have bird feeders in your yard you may be unwittingly attracting them. Try moving or removing them entirely and see if that helps.

Use smells cats don’t like

Scatter orange, lemon or grapefruit rinds on the ground


Cayenne pepper – if you do use cayenne pepper, please don’t sprinkle it when cats are there or when it’s windy. It can get in their eyes and feral cats have enough problems.

Eucalyptus Oil

Used coffee grounds have also been known to act as a deterrent. Visit your local coffee shop and see if they give away grounds for free. I was in one the other day and they had bags they were offering customers free of charge for use in their gardens. I was impressed with that!

Introduce plants cats don’t like

I was reading on a website called Gardening Know How about some of the plants cats don’t like. Rosemary is one, so trying planting it along the perimeter of your garden. Others include – the scaredy-cat plant (Coleus canina), rue, lavender, rosemary, and pennyroyal.

What about a plant they do like!

Catnip! Try putting some outside your garden or in a corner to keep their interest focused in one area.  

How to Stop Cats from Using Your Garden as a Litterbox

Cover the soil

Put something like poultry netting, hardware cloth or even plastic carpet runners with the spike side up over the soil. They can easily be found in stores like Home Depot or online. If you’ll be planting, be sure to cut big enough holes in the netting for plants.

Cat Scat Mat

Humane and chemical free, these plastic mats have plastic spikes that deter cats and other animals. They come pre-cut or in a roll.

They can also be used to cover the soil of indoor potted plants if your cat likes to dig. One of my cats seemed to get pleasure out of digging up my mother’s indoor plants. Personally, I think she did it on purpose to annoy her!!

Put sticks in the soil

This is one idea I came across recently that I had never heard of before. Using chopsticks or something similar, place them in the soil a few inches apart leaving no room for cats to walk.

Protect your plants

If you’ve ever grown vegetables or flowers, you probably have used a polyethylene tunnel to protect them from the weather and wildlife. Consider using it if cats are peeing and pooping in your flower beds, but of course that will depend on the time of year. Using them in the hot weather could destroy the plants you’re trying to save.

Another idea would be to use larger rocks or stones as a deterrent. The upside – they may create a lovely feature and prevent weeds.

Spreading pine cones on the soil may also help.  

Provide them with an outdoor litterbox

Setting up a litterbox of sand in a corner of your garden may do the trick. A regular sized one may be too small, perhaps a very small kiddy pool or a DIY version of a sandbox. A few pieces of wood to build up the area, some sand and you’re done. Just be sure to clean it frequently, and of course keep kids away. I know it’s a pain to clean up after cats that aren’t yours, but at least they will (hopefully) use it, and it’s a lot easier to clean then trying to get poop off the lawn.  

Ultra sonic cat scarer

When the sensor detects motion, it emits a high-pitched noise humans can’t hear and cats don’t like. It is possible cats that are determined enough will learn which areas of the garden they can safely walk in, to avoid setting off the sensor. An infra-red activated sensor uses heat as a signal rather than movement, and you may find this works better…or a combination of both!

How to keep cats out of your yard

Motion activated sprinkler

One deterrent worth looking into that does not involve chemicals, poisons or anything else inhumane is the motion activated sprinkler. I could tell you all about what they do, how they work and even the pros and cons, but this review does a great job.

Shake Away

This is a ready-made powder you can buy on Amazon or stores like Home Depot, WalMart…

This product has gotten a lot of mixed reviews. Some say it works, many say it doesn’t. It is meant to be a mix of fox and coyote urine, which cats apparently don’t like, however that makes up only 5%. What’s in the other 95%?  It is also labelled as organic and completely safe around pets and children.

Here are the warnings from the U.S. EPA website 

“Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals. Caution: Avoid contact of mouth, skin, or eyes. Wash hands before eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco or using bathroom facilities.

Environmental Hazards. To protect the environment, do not allow pesticide to enter or run off into storm drains, drainage ditches, gutters or surface waters. Applying this product in calm weather when rain is not predicted for the next 24 hours will help to ensure that wind or rain does not blow or wash pesticide off the treatment area.”

Make your own cat deterrent spray

Mix 1 tsp of black pepper, dry mustard and cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove. Fill to the top with water and spray on garden beds. I found this recipe on the David Suzuki website.

I also read to mix 3 parts water to 1 part peppermint oil in a spray bottle and spray outside where necessary.

Oscillot cat proofing system

This is a rotating cylinder that attaches to the top of a fence. Designed to keep cats safely contained, it can be used to keep cats out. Learn more about the product by visiting their website.

Animal shaped garden decorations with glowing eyes

I’ve read that garden sculptures in the shape of cats, especially if they have glowing eyes that are solar can deter cats from the yard.

Minimize cat attracting odors

Minimize those cat attracting smells by keeping garbage bins securely closed, and thoroughly cleaning your outdoor barbecue after each use.

A foil pan may do the trick

All you need is a stake (you’ll probably have to experiment with the height), some string and a foil pan. Make a hole in the pan, tie the string to it and when the wind blows see if it keeps the cats away.

Tying it to the fence, a tree or bush in your garden could also work.

Are you providing refuge without even knowing it?

Cats, especially feral cats will look for shelter and hidey holes, so if your garden is a haven you’ll have plenty of visitors. On a positive note, you will be giving shelter to animals in need which is a very kind thing to do.

If you aren’t interested in being a port in a storm, check for areas they can hide in. Can they get under a porch or deck? Do you have lots of “stuff” they can hide behind? Sealing off those areas and getting rid of clutter will make your garden a shelter free zone.

Please don’t be cruel

I’m sure during your search you’ve come across some less than humane suggestions, and I urge you to ignore them. No matter how annoying it may be, hurting any animal should never be an option.

How to reduce the number of feral cats in Jerusalem

Support local TNR (trap-neuter-return) projects 

While it could be your neighbours’ cats that are causing all this grief, depending on where you live it may also be feral cats, also known as community cats. Through no fault of their own they are homeless and often suffering.

Search for trap-neuter-return groups/individuals helping in your area, chat with them about their work and see how you can possibly work together to help improve life for everyone.  

Wow that’s a lot of options!!

So there you have it. My comprehensive list of ways you can stop cats from using your garden as a litterbox. Remember, it may require a combination of strategies to be effective.

Are you dealing with a neighbour’s cat or a feral cat? What issues have you been having? What have you tried and what have you found worked? I would love to hear about your experiences, and I know it will help others as well.  


Please help support my spay/neuter campaign by donating and sharing. You can find all the details on my GoFundMe page.


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