This is our complete guide on how to stop cats from pooping in the garden once and for all. It’s the most comprehensive and extensive guide you’ll find for dealing with cats and their toilet habits.
It can be hugely disheartening to spend hours in the garden, making it look beautiful, only to find it covered in cat poop the following day.
We’ve covered identifying cat poop, and how to deal with it and then the bulk of the article covers methods for getting rid of cats. Below you can view a breakdown of this article and can skip through to the section that you need:
Let’s get into how to stop cats from pooping all in your garden by first confirming that it is a cat you have an issue with:
How to Identify Cat Poop
Before you consider ways to stop cats pooping in your garden, you need to be sure that the animal you’re dealing with is a cat. It could be a cat but it could also be a fox, deer, squirrel or badger.
Have You Seen a Cat?
The first step in identifying whether or not it is cat poop is to determine whether or not you’ve seen a cat in your garden. Cats will make themselves known. They’ll appear in the day patrolling your lawn and flower beds.
If you haven’t seen a cat then, chances are, you’re not dealing with a cat and you might need to consider what other animals could be accessing your garden.
What Does Cat Poop Look Like?
Generally speaking, cat poop will be a deep brown in colour and have a slightly harder consistency than dog poop but it won’t be rock solid either.
A solid consistency that is malleable but isn’t too mushy is generally what most cat poop looks like.
It is this consistency that is similar to modelling clay that is often the problem to gardeners! It can feel sticky when crushed and once on your clothes or skin, it feels sticky and difficult to remove. The healthiest cats shouldn’t have poop that smells too disgusting but some odour is to be expected.
How to Deal with Cat Poop
Before you how to stop cats from pooping in the garden, you need to know how to correctly and safely deal with what they leave littered throughout your beds and law – their poop!
You’ll need to buy high-quality, thick gardening gloves that you keep solely for clearing cat poop from your garden. This will prevent you from spreading know cat poop diseases such as Toxoplasma Gondii.
If you find you’re clearing cat poop from your garden daily then buying a box of disposable rubber gloves is the other option to take. You can keep the box aside solely to clear the mess that cats leave. All you need to do is throw the gloves out with the poop every time you clear it.
Purchase Dedicated Tools
Like gloves, you should also have dedicated tools for scooping up the poop. You don’t want to remove poop from your vegetable patch and then use the same tools to dig up your potatoes. You can see the big issue here!
All you need to do is buy a cheap trowel that you use solely to pick up any cat poop from your garden. Ensure you label it clearly so you know which trowel is which.
Remove Surrounding Soil
If the offending cat has buried their poop in your flower bed then ensure you dig up both the poop and the area surrounding the poop – roughly an inch around the poop.
Toxoplasma Gondii can survive for 18 months so even though you’ve removed the poop from your garden, the disease may still be living in your soil.
Wash Your Hands
This should go without saying but washing your hands after dealing with any animal’s faeces is vital. Even if you wear gloves, use a trowel and go nowhere near the offending poop, it is not worth the risk.
Toxic Cat Poop!
Cat poop can be incredibly toxic so even if you’ve used gloves and taken precautions we would still recommend getting inside and giving your hands a good scrub clean.
How to Stop Cats from Pooping in the Garden
Now you know how to deal with cat poop, you can move to deter them from your garden in the first place. The best way to stop cats from pooping in your garden is to stop them from coming into your garden in the first place.
Use an Ultrasonic Cat Scarer
This is probably the go-to method when it comes to trying to stop cats pooping in your garden. As soon as most people spot a cat trespassing on their property, they head out to their local DIY store and pick up an ultrasonic cat scarer.
But do they really work?
According to the marketing material of most reasonably priced cat scares, you are able to protect an area of around 100sqm using one device. The idea is that they play a high-pitched tone that’s an irritant to cats and that cannot be heard by humans.
The problem, however, is that like humans, not all cats are created equally. Some have greater hearing sensitivity than other cats. It’s also why in some rare cases humans can hear these ultrasonic pest scarers.
In fact, scientists have conducted laboratory tests that have shown that the majority of these ultrasonic devices don’t actually work – false advertising or what!
The other problem, of course, is that these high pitched tones are not tuned in to affect cats only but will affect other animals – including dogs.
So when it comes to answering whether or not ultrasonic scarers work for stopping cats from using your garden as a toilet, it’s an annoying answer: They may work and you’ll need to give it a try to determine whether or not it’s a suitable deterrent for the cat you’re dealing with.
Ultrasonic cat repellers might work but it will come down to trial-and-error and whether the cat you’re dealing with gets impacted by them. Unfortunately, scientific studies have shown that they’re not that effective.
Install a Motion-Activated Sprinkler
This is the most extreme method on the list! If you don’t want to fall out with your cat-owning neighbour then it might even be worth avoiding this method as it can annoy cats owners who think you’re trying to injure their beloved pet.
Essentially, a motion-activated sprinkler will squirt cats with a burst of water if they enter your garden. It’s one of the most effective ways to stop cats pooping in your garden. It is completely harmless too but many cat owners will see you soaking their cherished pet and see it as an outright attack.
The last thing you want to do is antagonise your neighbours. Even if it does work to stop cats pooping all over your garden it is also one of the more difficult to implement for a variety of reasons:
Some of these motion-activated sprinklers require a power source. You can find battery-operated versions but they do tend to be less powerful with a small radius of range and a less violent burst of water.
You have to get the water from somewhere and that generally requires a constant feed from a hose pipe or water pump. Unless you don’t mind permanently running a hose around your garden to feed the squirter then avoid it.
Motional-activated sprinklers aren’t advanced enough yet to detect humans. So if you happen to accidentally walk into its detection zone you’ll find yourself getting soaked too. This also means if you have pets of your own then they will also get attacked.
There is, of course, another cheaper solution… Buy a water gun.
Get comfortable by a window with a mug of tea and get ready to shoot the cat with a spray of water yourself. No, this isn’t the best use of your time but it certainly works.
The novelty will wear off in a matter of hours though and it’s certainly not a long-term solution to stop cats pooping in your garden.
Season Your Garden with Spices
There are plenty of spices that deter cats from using your garden as their own personal toilets such as paprika and cinnamon.
However, like most living mammals, cats are individuals and have their own individual tastes so when it comes to using spices to deter cats you will have to go with trial and error.
But here are our top 5 spices that we have found to be most effective when trying to prevent cats from coming into your garden:
Admittedly not a spice, citrus fruit, however, can be one of the most effective ways of deterring cats from coming anywhere near your private property. Collect any lemon, lime and orange peels then shed the peel into small pieces (or use a blender) and sprinkle in your flowerbeds.
Cinnamon is probably one of the most pleasant smelling spices for humans, just think of how many candles with the scent are sold! But, for whatever reason, cats are averse to the smell that cinnamon produces.
Chilli Powder or Paprika
Cat owners will probably hate us for mentioning this one as many see it as cruel, but chilli powder really can work wonders when it comes to preventing cats from coming into your garden. First, cats hate the smell like many spices. Secondly, cats will get the powder in their paws which can act as an irritant.
Another spice that has a pungent smell to deter cats is curry powder. The issue here, of course, is that it will turn your ground yellow and can leave a faint hint of curry in the air which probably isn’t what you want when relaxing in the garden?
Black pepper is the slightly less intrusive version of curry powder. But, does pepper stop cats pooping in your garden? Yes, it’ll deter cats but won’t leave your garden smelling. Again, there are some moral questions that need to be asked when it comes to using black pepper and how it may affect cats.
The other option is to use essential oils to deter cats. These are far more concentrated than the dry spices you have in the cupboard.
Many spices will be toxic to cats so it’s worth checking before you use them in your garden. They are usually only toxic when ingested which means you can use most spices as long as they cannot be accessed by the cat in question.
Get a Dog
Perhaps seen by most as an extreme method but it all comes down to how much you want to rid your garden of cat faeces. Nothing scares cats away quite as well as a raging dog. Cats tend to be scared of dogs because most dogs don’t speak cat very well, unsurprisingly.
Dogs with high prey drives – breeds such as hounds – look at cats like they do any other animal: Potential prey. Their initial reaction is to pounce.
There are of course pitfalls to getting a dog for the sole reason of winning the war and stopping cats from coming into your garden.
Firstly, it’s a costly and long-term endeavour. You will need to want to own a dog.
Cats Might Not be Threatened
Secondly, there is a risk that the cat has grown up around a dog and therefore isn’t threatened by the presence of a dog. You won’t find out until you try and if it doesn’t work then it’s too late.
If you’ve been umming and aahing about getting a dog and now want to know how to stop cats pooping in your garden then you may have just found the perfect excuse to get a dog. If having a dog has never been a consideration for you and your family then skip over this step.
Lay Down Chicken Wire
Much like how a cattle grid works to contain sheep, chicken wire works to keep cats out of your garden simply because they find walking on it incredibly uncomfortable. They hate the feeling of the harsh wire on their soft paws.
Buy yourself a roll of chicken wire and lay it down on the ground where you find cats generally enter. They’ll only make the mistake of walking on it once!
You will also find that it works as a great deterrent against digging. If you find cats not only leave a mess in your garden but also dig it up, then this deterrent can work wonders. You can probably imagine just how difficult it would be to dig a hole through chicken wire.
Of course, it’s not always practical, especially if you have a well-established garden full of plants and little ground you can access.
The other problem is if the cat you’re having trouble with climbs over the fence and can leap over your carefully placed chicken wire then your chicken wire is going to be pretty redundant in your fight to stop cats using your garden as their personal litter tray.
Add Sharp Gravel
Gravel is notorious for attracting cats to poop in your garden but that’s only if you get the gravel size wrong. If the gravel you have chosen for your garden is similar to a cat’s litter tray then they’ll instantly assume they’re allowed to use it as a toilet.
But if you opt for jagged-edged slate or sharp gravel then this can be uncomfortable for a cat to walk on so they’re likely to avoid going on the area. This works much like the chicken wire method from above.
Choosing materials in your garden is important when dealing with intruding cats. Bark, for example, will attract them!
Plant Coleus Canina
Don’t worry, this isn’t a Latin lesson! Coleus Canina, a herb in the mint family, actually has the nickname ‘scaredy-cat’.
Although a bit of a dodgy marketing ploy, it is reported to work at repelling nearly 7 in 10 cats. It originated in Germany where some clever clogs biologist decided to create a hybrid plant with one purpose: To keep cats away.
Although the plant is part of the mint family, you certainly don’t want to make tea from it or throw it in with your peas as the smell is pungent with some saying it actually gives off the smell of urine when you brush by it (it’s why cats hate fox urine too).
This is why it works so well though as you probably know already that cats use urine to mark their territory. Coleus Canina isn’t the only plant that can work wonders as a deterrent to cats. Other plants that can deter cats include:
- Ruta Graveolens or Rue
- Curry Plant
- Lemon Balm
- Wild Garlic
Know What Plants to Pick
You either want to plant things with a strong, pungent odour or something with coarse, rough or spiky leaves to deter cats.
One plant you need to avoid planting is catmint. Some online resources claim that it works to deter cats but it has the opposite effect. Cats are so obsessed with it that it can actually send them into a trance!
Unfortunately, cats hate some herbs but love others. To know which to plant, check out our full guide here.
Sprinkle Purpose-Made Pellets
Of course, there are also purpose-made cat repellents that you can sprinkle across your garden to deter cats. You have to continuously reapply the repellents to your garden until the cat gets the message and you can finally stop using them.
The most common of these is lion poo which can be purchased on Amazon. The downside here is that it can get costly as you will need quite a large supply of the repellent.
The other downside, as with many methods, is that success is mixed with many sufferers claiming that most purpose-made cat repellents are garbage and fail to make any difference.
Trying to get rid of cats in your garden is a challenge. But it can be done. You do need to spend time trialling different deterrents as one deterrent can be effective at deterring one cat but it may not work for another cat.
Work your way through this list and see which do and do not work at repelling the particular cat you’re trying to prevent from coming into your garden.
How NOT to Stop Cats from Pooping in the Garden
There are a few cat deterrents that people think will work to get rid of cats in gardens but that should, in fact, be avoided. We’ve outlined them below:
This should go without saying but using violence or causing harm to cats because they’re pooping in your garden is unacceptable. It’s frustrating. You want to stop them from coming into your garden. But violence is not an approach you should even consider.
We’ve listed 7 common deterrents to try which are safe and often cheap to try (OK, maybe buying and owning a dog isn’t cheap). Work your way through those deterrents and see which works for the cat you’re dealing with.
There’s a reason that more and more places are banning mothballs and that’s because they’re harmful to the planet. They might be an effective way to deal with pesky cats that are driving you mad… But that doesn’t mean it’s the correct way to deal with them.
Jeyes Fluid and Bleach
If you’ve ever read the warnings on a tin of Jeyes Fluid, you’ll know how dangerous it is for humans let alone animals!
Animals can be inquisitive. You might know that Jeyes Fluid is dangerous but a cat will not and there is a risk they will accidentally ingest some which can make them ill.
It can even be lethal! Will Jeyes Fluid deter cats? Possibly. But it will also cause harm to them and damage plants and other wildlife. It’s not a risk worth taking!
The same can be said for bleach and ammonia. Although bleach may successfully deter cats, it’s not something we would use as it can cause long term harm both to the cat and other wildlife you’re trying to protect in the garden.
Sure – poison will work at deterring a cat. You’ll probably kill it after all.
But is murder really an approach you want to take when trying to stop a cat from entering your garden? Using rat (or another animal) poison is not something we can condone. It’s dangerous and immoral so avoid doing so.
Upturned Nails and Broken Glass
Making an area of your garden unappealing and uncomfortable to walk on is a great cat deterrent. It’s why we advise using chicken wire. If you can work out where a cat is coming into your garden then laying chicken wire can work wonders.
But using upturned nails, broken glass, spikes or shards is taking this deterrent too far. Not only will be uncomfortable for a cat to walk on but it can cause long-lasting and irreversible damage.
Don’t Be Cruel
Any deterrent that can harm a cat should always be avoided. We know that they can be annoying. We know you want to get rid of them. But there are safer ways to stop cats from pooping in the garden.
Although cats can be a nuisance, it’s not worth killing over. When using any deterrents in the garden, you should always consider whether that deterrent can cause harm to the cat, other animals, other humans or plants.
If there is a risk to any life or a chance of inflicting damage on the environment then you should steer clear of that particular method. There are plenty of natural and safe cat deterrents worth trying so give those a go, instead.
From identifying and dealing with cat poop to deterring cats from your garden in the first place, we’ve covered it all in this ultimate guide on how to stop cats from pooping in the garden.
Once you’ve identified that it is cat poop you need to deal with it, dealing with cat poop is a messy (and dangerous) business. You need to take precautions. Dedicated tools, gloves and washing your hands thoroughly are all key parts of the process. It’s also worth noting that, in most places, the law isn’t going to help.
Once you’ve dealt with the poop, you can get rid of cats in your garden once and for all. There is a range of deterrents to try including ultrasonic cat repellers, motion-activated spray, Coleus Canina and chicken wire.
What may work for one cat, won’t work for another. It will be a case of trial-and-error to discover what is effective for the particular can you’re fighting against.
If you have any success (or failures) when it comes to getting rid of cats in your garden then let us know in the comments section below:
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden