Gravel is great. It hides a multitude of sins. Unfortunately, that’s not all it hides. When your neighbour’s cats make their way into your garden you may find that they use your gravel to disguise something distinctly unpleasant that they’ve left in their wake.
When choosing gravel to deter cats, a good rule of thumb is to use 20mm if you intend to walk on it and 40mm if you don’t. Avoid using pea shingle as this is too similar to a cat litter tray.
Gardeners use gravel for a variety of reasons:
It can neaten up a well-trodden path that’s become worse for wear and make it look neat and pristine. It can add accents to your landscaping. It can be the perfect covering for driveways and makes the perfect use as a base for your patio.
However, when your neighbours have cats, gravel can be problematic…
The Catveat of Using Gravel
The trouble with using gravel in your garden is that it can be extremely attractive to cats. After all, it looks almost exactly like cat litter, it’s easy to dig and allows them to discreetly bury the smelly vestiges of their visit.
As versatile and beautiful as gravel can be, it can also be an open invitation for your neighbourhood’s cats to use your garden as a litter tray and take turns marking your garden as their territory.
When a cat feels at home in your garden, it won’t be shy about showing it. It can reduce your flower bed to tatters, scratch its way up your trees or garden furniture and use your climbing plants as a climbing frame.
The good news, however, is that you don’t need to choose between keeping a cat-free garden and using gravel. The kind of gravel you use can go a long way towards keeping kitty at bay!
What Size Gravel to Deter Cats?
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the size of the gravel you use:
As charming and versatile as 10mm pea shingle is, this kind is especially attractive to cats. Its diminutive size makes it easy for them to dig, bury and play in while its round shape makes it comfortable for them to walk on.
You’ll need something a little bigger to prevent them from digging and playing in your gravelled areas.
Of course, this means that you’ll need to strike a balance between the size of your gravel and your comfort when walking on it. A good rule of thumb is to use 20mm if you intend to walk on it and 40mm if you don’t (although the latter can be harder to come by).
Size isn’t Everything
It’s important to remember that the size of your gravel is not the only thing you need to consider. The shape also plays an important part. Sharper, rougher, pointier pieces will keep cats away but will lock together when walked on by a human.
Look at the gravel you have and consider whether or not you would be happy walking on it bare-footed. If you think it would be painful then chances are a cat will also find it quite uncomfortable.
If, however, the gravel has smooth rounded edges then they probably won’t be too fussy about strolling across it.
How to Stop Cats Pooping on Gravel
If you’ve already installed your gravel area in the garden but are now facing an attack from your neighbouring cats who seem to love using your gravel as a toilet then try out these 3 methods for stopping cats from pooping all over your garden:
Treat Your Gravel
To be on the safe side it may be a good idea to treat areas of gravel (especially those which have been visited by cats before) with a homemade repellent spray made from water, ground cinnamon, black pepper, mustard powder, crushed garlic and lemon oil (get full details here).
This will ensure that your gravel remains forever free of unwanted feline attention and hopefully will prevent cats from pooping in your gravelled areas.
If you’re looking for something simple to put on gravel to stop cat pooping there, then a citrus spray for cats will work just fine. All you need to do is fill up a spray bottle with neat lemon juice.
If using a cat repellent spray on gravel, ensure you regularly reapply it as the smell will dissipate quickly and rain will wash it away.
Add Ultrasonic Cat Repellents
If you have a long gravel pathway then adding a motion-activated ultrasonic cat repellent at each end facing into the pathway can be a great first step at deterring cats.
These ultrasonic cat deterrents work for the majority of cats so it’s certainly one worth trying. Unfortunately, there are still a small number of cats that don’t seem to be affected by them.
Add Sharp Stones
If your current gravel path or area is full of smooth, rounded stones then it may be worth adding in a bag or two of sharper, more jagged stones which cats will find difficult to walk across.
You’re not looking to cause harm to the cat but by adding sharper edges, the cat will get the message that the area is hard to walk on and will go to other areas of the garden (or hopefully, someone else’s garden altogether).
When it comes to deciding what size gravel to use to deter cats, opt for a minimum diameter of 20mm. Anything smaller will be too similar to a litter tray so a cat will instinctively assume they can use it as their own toilet.