Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gardener Is Pee'd-Off About Getting Pee'd On

Dear Tazi:

Since you are a cat, I think you can relate to my problem, if only from the other side of it. I keep a beautiful, three-season vegetable garden in my fenced backyard. I work very hard on it and in it to ensure the fruits of my labors are tasty and nourishing. I love gardening and am generally at peace whenever I am plowing my bare hands through the dirt. Herein lays my problem.

My next door neighbor has four indoor-outdoor cats that like to use my garden as their own personal litter-box. They jump the fence and do their business in my garden, burying the evidence of their visits in shallow holes they have dug. I find this evidence when I am weeding, and pick up a handful of it. I have tried wearing gardening gloves to cut down on the ick factor, but I find them cumbersome and uncomfortable.

I have considered sprinkling the ground with irritating toxins, but am concerned about what such poisons would do to my vegetables. I am at my wits' end, Tazi-Kat! Oh, and before you suggest that I talk to the neighbors, don't bother. I have tried, and it doesn't work.

Tired of Being #$%! On

Dear Tired of...

Halloween is coming up, a time for pranks and trickery. Have you tried collecting the cat poop in a brown paper bag, putting it on your neighbor's porch, lighting it afire, and then ringing the bell before running? I am not endorsing anything so childish; I am just curious to know how low you would go to get back at your neighbors, considering that poisoning their pets was scratched due to potential harm to yourself.

One of the great joys in a cat's life is scratching, be it dirt or furniture, nothing gives us satisfaction like digging our claws into something soft and pliable beneath our paws - kind of like you feel about your garden, no? I am hoping this will help you see that you and the cats have some common ground other than your garden.

There are many natural, non-toxic remedies to keep these felines - and other creatures such as deer, rabbits, and even mosquitoes - from invading your turf.  One very inexpensive way of keeping kitties out of your garden – or anywhere else you do not want them – is to sprinkle red pepper flakes around the perimeter and throughout the area.  Cats have very a very sensitive sense of smell, and we do not like the spicy smell of hot pepper flakes.  If for some reason your neighbor’s cats don’t mind the smell, they will certainly mind the irritation to their paws and their tushies should they “go” where the flakes are spread.  Negative reinforcement is all that is required to make these cats find a new stomping ground. 

Come spring, you can plant marigolds around your fence and garden.  These flowers look pretty but stink something awful!  They are a natural deterrent to anything with a sense of smell, bugs included, which will cut down on your need for pesticides.  Hopefully, this will allow you and the neighboring felines to live in harmony.


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