Scat Cat!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of cats, probably has something to allergies. My neighbours however do like cats very much, so much so, that they have somewhere between six and a dozen. We’ve never been able to get a conclusive count on these wily felines.

Unfortunately, our neighbours also don’t seem to have a problem with their cats coming over into our flower beds and backyard garden and doing their business. We’ve done the neighbourly thing and talked to them about our concerns with the nightly deposits but nothing much has come of it. A typical response is, “Well, they’re just going to jump over the fence anyway.”

Cat Scat
Fresh cat scat in the front flower bed – one of the joys of urban gardening.

We’ve tried CatStopĀ® but unfortunately it doesn’t work well with white cats with blue eyes – the disclaimer states that cats with these characteristics may be deaf. At least one of the cats is big, white, and blue-eyed. I’ve also tried a variety of cayenne pepper, lemon peels, orange peels, and other powders, but they only last for so long before being washed away. I’ve managed to blast a couple with water but they still keep coming back. Perhaps that’s a sign of conditions on the other side of the fence – these are determined cats!

What has worked is wire fencing around our backyard garden, which shares a side on the property line. We’ve been scat free in there for a couple of years now, more so since the neighbours have finally finished their fence (a three year process). The cats have re- focused their attention on our front flower beds, perhaps because the soil is a little looser and the proximity and lower fence line on that part of the property. Laying down chicken wire has worked for the most part, but detracts a little from the street appeal.

BC SPCA Van
Nice to know that employees of the BC SPCA are sensitive about what their own pets are doing in their neighbour’s yards. Can you see the fresh cat diggings?

The irony is that one of our neighbours works for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Comox Branch. Perhaps the freedom these cats enjoy is one of the ways in which our neighbours are “dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life for the animals of the world we share.” Wouldn’t it be nice if they included a little employee “neighbourhood sensitivity” workshop as part of their training and enhanced their pets’ quality of life on their side of the fence?

Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia illustris?)
A Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia illustris?), taking a break from laying eggs in cat scat.

There is one positive aspect of the whole thing in that, with the abundant sources of cat feces in our flower beds and on the other side of the fence, Green Bottle Flies (Lucilia illustris?) are plentiful. You’ve probably seen these beautiful looking flies if you do any sort of gardening. Typically they’ll lay their eggs in feces or garbage, so the cat scat provides an excellent place for the fly’s life cycle to start. I guess from a naturalist perspective, I should be considering these semi-nightly deposits as gifts of a sort.

Then again, maybe that’s being too generous. If you’ve got any humane tips for deterring cats from disturbing your flower beds let me know. I’d be happy to try them out while waiting for Courtenay to develop a cat bylaw!

13 comments

  1. Try planting a ground cover (like creeping Jenny, Lysimachia, for example) over the chicken wire. The wire will still stop the cats, but won’t be visible.

  2. Well, I have my own cats and they share their love in my own garden. I’ve discovered that if I let them have their little corner, they’ll leave the rest alone. Of course, they are my own cats- I can only blame myself!

  3. Thanks Mike P. – I might try making something like this out of our chicken wire and burying it in the mulch. I’ll update this post if/when we figure out an effective deterrent!

  4. Thanks for stopping in Mike B. How did Mickey Rourke put it …
    “Do you hate them [cats]?”
    “No, but I seem to feel better when they’re not around.”

  5. Good idea S.

    We’ve got some kinnikinnick and spreading thyme planted but they’re taking a little time to spread out – I like the idea of burying the wire, will see if it works. We did have chicken wire on top and that seemed to work except if there were any gaps … mind you, then the cats started doing their thing on the lawn.

  6. Thanks for stopping in Tim – I’m thinking that shelling out another $80 for a ScareCrow might be worth it at this point, but am a little hesitant since the CatStop didn’t really work too well. Maybe I can set it up to get the neighbour as well?

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  10. Catch them if possible (humanely of course) and take them to the Pound, not to the SPCA. In Calgary, pound kitties and dogs are adopted out, if not returned to the owners along with a hefty fine for being at large.

  11. Thanks for that idea Mel – unfortunately we don’t have a pound here, SPCA handles all of that sort of thing in the Comox Valley.

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