• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

Permaculture cat avoidance?

 
pollinator
Posts: 459
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
50
dog books urban bike
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What permacultural experience or advice do people have for deterring wandering domestic cats from coming into the garden?

I'd like to learn about non-harming ways to discourage cats from coming into our garden area and catching birds, snakes, skinks, etc. Those little predators help keep the pests down and the more, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. "More snakes, more birds, more skinks" is my motto. "A skink on every rock" would be a political platform I'd vote for, simply because slugs annoy me, as do many beetles, some moths, and most caterpillars.

I'm not anti-cat. I am not interested in any way harming cats. Educating the humans involved is not practicable in all cases -- it's not in this one (except for educating myself). And getting the relevant authorities involved would mean live-trapping the cats and sending them to the pound. I don't want to do that either (see "not interested in any way harming cats" above). Our little dog is noisy enough for three. Cats dislike her. But she's not outside all the time.

Permaculture methods must offer some things that will deter cats. Anti-catnip? Counter-felid fengshui? Is this yet another problem that the right kind of compost can make go away???

I would prefer this not become a thread about the question of whether cats are harmful etc. Everyone knows some cats kill things when they're out and about. Not all cats kill and not all the time, but still. Some people don't mind that killing, some do. Fair enough. It's a big internet and there's space for many viewpoints. I'm interested in practical, practicable, non-harmful things I can do.
 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
670
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Introducing the kitty ipod with speakers. 

Cats who have a bell on their collar, quickly learn to tread softly until the rush of an ambush. A small radio that can't be easily disabled, would warn everyone with ears. Lizards, snakes and birds could flee, gardeners could fling a clay ball and granny could set out some cream for the visitor. 

Everybody wins. The occasional daft animal may still fall victim, but many more will learn that the music means that a cat is approaching. It doesn't have to be music. Stalin's speaches or Gilbert Godfrey's melodic voice could play in a continuous loop. A whole new field of psychiatry for cats, may flourish as a result.
c5dy2.jpg
[Thumbnail for c5dy2.jpg]
I keep hearing voices.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
318
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are these cats domestic, or feral?
If they are feral cats, Trap-Neuter-Release programs can help keep their numbers from getting out of hand. Existing cats can continue to live locally, but they will not produce a gazillion new kittens each spring.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1539
Location: Victoria BC
215
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think you've already got the ideal solution; a dog. You just don't have *enough* of the solution! I would suggest you apply further solution until the problem is reduced to an acceptable level, or the solution becomes more of a problem than the problem.

(That's a permaculture thing, right? 'Sometimes the solution is the problem'?)


I keep my cat in a fenced yard for his own safety; he was previously an indoor cat and I'm afraid of him getting hit by a car, as he's absolutely fearless well past the bounds of common sense. To prevent him getting past the fence, I put the posts in at an angle, and used heavy duty black plastic deer fencing, loosely attached with an inward bent lower curtain laid on the ground and weighted down. It's too tall to jump, and while I'm sure he could climb a taut vertical fence, going up a sagging overhang is beyond him...

It doesn't make for a pretty fence, but it's worked for several months so far.
 
Posts: 632
27
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Motion activated sprinkler at key points of ingress, or their favorite soft dirt depository area.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solar-Motion-Sprinkler-Activated-Powerful-Jet-Water-Spray-Scarecrow-Away-/111936205297?hash=item1a0feaf1f1:g:RdEAAOSwmmxW5vCS


forty bucks with shipping
 
gardener
Posts: 6667
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1316
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
we use motion sensor activated lights, so far (two years) it has worked pretty well for us. A loud noise maker can be wired into the circuit for even more determent of felines (works for raccoons too).
 
master steward
Posts: 13924
Location: Pacific Northwest
6315
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If having cats poo in your garden is the main problem, you can try applying a pepper spray to everything. You can find some recipes for it in this thread (https://permies.com/t/35612/dogs-cats/critters/Cats-Hugel-Litter-Box) as well as some other deterrents. I tried it, but it didn't work for my cat...but that was also a cat who knew my house was it's territory.

What ended up working best for me was just sticking a bunch of sticks every 4-5 inches in my garden beds, with the sticks sticking up about 4-5 inches. This made digging a lot less desirable for my cat, and it chose to poo elsewhere. (I also tried laying bramble across my beds. This kept the cat away, but made it really painful to garden! The sticks were a lot easier--and less painful--to manage.)
 
pollinator
Posts: 531
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
111
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard citronella works well. I planted rue one time for the same purpose and got mixed results (a dog killed it by rolling on it), but it might be worth a shot.
 
Posts: 24
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chip,

I googled keep cats out of gardens and came up with two results that were promising. Unpleasant texture and unpleadant smells.

Texture - chinese chestnuts or other burr covered nuts for mulch?

Smells - predator urine (yours?)

Just some permie friendly options to experiment with.
 
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
110
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books bee solar
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm probably going to make myself unpopular here, but the domestic cat is among my least favourite animals, mainly because of their habit of wiping out the wildlife for fun.

I mean, down there with mosquitoes, filaria parasites and humans.

I agree that teaching the humans is impractical. Apparently it's "natural" for an overbred, untrainable killing machine to be let loose in large numbers to wipe out the local rodentia and avifauna.

Things that smell like big predators are well known: I've never tried it but I'm told that, if you have a local zoo, the dung produced by large predators, especially big cats, will keep the smaller ones away.

A thought: would this also work to discourage large herbivores such as deer and boar? There was a discussion a while ago about how fear changes the behaviour of herbivores and small predators. I'm not enthusiastic because putting the fear of death into the local wildlife doesn't really appeal to me: I don't like making anyone's life worse.

Something I've also never tried, and it's very artificial, but this did occur to me when my neighbour's ****ing moggie (named as a fan of the local football team, just to add insult to injury!) was treating my garden as his toilet because my neighbours had covered theirs in paving slabs, involved a large water pistol and some soluble cat repellent. I suspect you'd only need one "treatment". The fact I even considered this shows just how pissed off I was.

Water and an old bike pump will have a similar effect, but this requires more conditioned response on the part of the cat.

Other things some people have found that work include prunings from spiny plants such as hawthorn and berberis (which is what I went for, and seems to work: same principle as Nicole's brambles) citrus peel, coffee grounds (I'd rather use that for growing mushrooms), and at least some strong-smelling herbs (not catnip, obviously): http://thescaredycat.com/cat-repellent-plants-actually-work/.

The evil little monsters like freshly dug earth, so a no-till regime might help, and this is obviously beneficial for other reasons.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 13924
Location: Pacific Northwest
6315
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's another cat-repellent plant. I've never used it, but ran across its name in a plant nursery listing, and had to find out more.

Anyway, supposedly if planted three feet apart, it will protect a whole garden from cats and dogs, and isn't particularily offensive smelling to people.

Here's the link...to the Piss-Off Plant! (And, yes, that's it's name. It also seems like a great present to give to those you don't particularity like. Tell someone you hate them, with flowers: "Here you go, Piss-Off!")

 
Posts: 75
Location: NW KS/NE CO State Line
8
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So please don't blow me up over this.  
When I was a kid, my folks got a BB gun at an auction, iron sights, 25 years old, pump action.  It was for me to shoot targets with, and cats were one of two live targets I was allowed to engage.  With a low velocity, the BB didn't penetrate, it just left a welt, much like getting smacked on bare skin from a paintball.  My marksmanship was immaterial, because a near miss would throw up enough debris to spook the cats, and they would avoid our house like the plague for several days.  If I hit one, it would bolt out of the yard like someone lit its tail on fire (euphamism, not comparison) and after that it would high tail it from 100 yards away at the sound of the screen door opening.  

Think of it as behavior modification.  By the same token, our Heeler/Catahoula mix doesn't like cats, and they will cross the road to avoid walking on his turf on the outside chance he's outdoors.  He hasn't gotten one yet, but heavy breathing on your tail as you are running at full sprint tends to cause some serious anxiety on their part.  

When I started losing pullets to unknown predators 3 years ago, one of the defensive steps was live traps.  If I caught a cat that was collared/tagged, I'd spray it with water, take it home and cut it loose.  If it was a stray/unidentified, I'd throw the trap in the back of the truck and drive to the nearest grain handling facility, as they always have mice/rat problems.  Of course, now, because we live in town, the closest elevator is about a half mile away, so I'd probably take it to the 2nd closest one.  

Think of it as a public service... yeah, that's it... Public Service.  
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

chip sanft wrote:What permacultural experience or advice do people have for deterring wandering domestic cats from coming into the garden?

I'd like to learn about non-harming ways to discourage cats from coming into our garden area and catching birds, snakes, skinks, etc. Those little predators help keep the pests down and the more, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. "More snakes, more birds, more skinks" is my motto. "A skink on every rock" would be a political platform I'd vote for, simply because slugs annoy me, as do many beetles, some moths, and most caterpillars.

I'm not anti-cat. I am not interested in any way harming cats. Educating the humans involved is not practicable in all cases  -- it's not in this one (except for educating myself). And getting the relevant authorities involved would mean live-trapping the cats and sending them to the pound. I don't want to do that either (see "not interested in any way harming cats" above). Our little dog is noisy enough for three. Cats dislike her. But she's not outside all the time.

Permaculture methods must offer some things that will deter cats. Anti-catnip? Counter-felid fengshui? Is this yet another problem that the right kind of compost can make go away???

I would prefer this not become a thread about the question of whether cats are harmful etc. Everyone knows some cats kill things when they're out and about. Not all cats kill and not all the time, but still. Some people don't mind that killing, some do. Fair enough. It's a big internet and there's space for many viewpoints. I'm interested in practical, practicable, non-harmful things I can do.



There are literally hundreds of ideas, devices, and techniques to keep those pesky felines out of your garden! I live in a city and have hundreds of cats in my local vicinity. I use lion dung and a water sprayer when set-off it sprays a quick burst of water!   Best Cat Deterrents I rarely see a cat in my garden and once and a while i see a poo..
 
gardener
Posts: 381
Location: Nara, Japan. Zone 8-ish
255
kids dog forest garden personal care trees foraging
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's a common held belief in Japan that plastic bottles filled with water will deter cats. The way the light bounces around the bottle is said to scare them off. If it does work initially, the cats soon habituate.

When I first moved here, I couldn't figure out why there were bottles of water sitting out everywhere. I thought maybe sun tea...had a good laugh when someone explained that it keeps cats away.

Sorry this doesn't help with your cat problem...
 
gardener
Posts: 1628
Location: South of Capricorn
616
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Amy Arnett wrote:It's a common held belief in Japan that plastic bottles filled with water will deter cats.


I saw this pic before I saw the text and my first thought was "gee, that looks so familiar... I haven't seen bottles like that in years....." glad to see that the ineffectual bottle repellant system is still going strong, lol.

(we have lots of cats roaming the neighborhood. They are very interested in 1) my rabbits and 2) crapping everywhere. I try to keep the bare dirt mulched and covered as much as possible, which keeps their interest in #2 down. When one is in the yard I will call the dog, who doesn`t have even the skinniest ghost of a chance of catching one, but it keeps everyone entertained.)
 
gardener
Posts: 950
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
231
dog duck chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts pig bike bee solar ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My dogs have a solution to the cat crap problem. They eat it. Problem solved. Then they come for cuddles.....
 
pollinator
Posts: 3559
Location: Toronto, Ontario
484
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the behaviour modification idea. I love the trap-neuter-release idea. Too bad we can't release them on islands with invasive rodent issues.

I have had two cats in my lifetime, and I loved them both. In a dense urban environment with a local racoon, possum, and rat population that thrive in the sewers, dumpsters, and ravines off of the detritus of society, a controlled cat population can be a balancing factor.

But honestly, the chief reason that I chose a Flemish Giant rabbit over a cat as a pet was the feces. I can fungally decompose used paper-based bunny litter. I don't even have to worry about a hot compost, though it tends that way anyways after I add the kitchen scraps. Carnivore dung is an order of magnitude worse than dog, or even human, dung.

I love the sticks in the ground approach, and I will look for the Piss-off plant myself. These are way better than the broken glass approach some non-gardening urbanites try.

I must admit that my first response to this post, however, was to think of a post on this site where someone posted a youTube video about dealing with squirrels. I wonder how effective a cat-apult would be?



-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 482
Location: N. California
152
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wounder about planting things like mint, cat seem to hate strong mint smells.
 
pollinator
Posts: 116
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
30
dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

My cat loves mint in all it's forms,  he even has a small mint garden outdoors that I let him have access to when we are outside ;)   I would not count on mint repelling any cats.  I might actually use mint to attract them away from beds I don't want them in and make another area more attractive.   I've had good luck with sprinkling garlic cloves in raised beds that neighbor cats were visiting, and my dogs keep most of them out of the yard during the hours we are home.  But they are indoors overnight so we still get some "visiting."   I think cats avoid onion smells as well.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 2066
Location: 4b
484
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Catnip is in the mint family...
 
D Nikolls
pollinator
Posts: 1539
Location: Victoria BC
215
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

D Nikolls wrote:I think you've already got the ideal solution; a dog. You just don't have *enough* of the solution! I would suggest you apply further solution until the problem is reduced to an acceptable level, or the solution becomes more of a problem than the problem.

(That's a permaculture thing, right? 'Sometimes the solution is the problem'?)


I keep my cat in a fenced yard for his own safety; he was previously an indoor cat and I'm afraid of him getting hit by a car, as he's absolutely fearless well past the bounds of common sense. To prevent him getting past the fence, I put the posts in at an angle, and used heavy duty black plastic deer fencing, loosely attached with an inward bent lower curtain laid on the ground and weighted down. It's too tall to jump, and while I'm sure he could climb a taut vertical fence, going up a sagging overhang is beyond him...

It doesn't make for a pretty fence, but it's worked for several months so far.



Update: a couple more months passed and my cat learned how to shimmy up the back of the posts hand over hand like a monkey under a branch, then do a sort of sideways flip to get his hindquarters over the top of the fence... seems like he was just not yet motivated or comfident enough at first. We've moved twice since, and I don't bother trying to keep him in any more. He wears a tracking device, and doesn't go near the road..


I am not super worried about the detectable cat density here; there are 5 kitties around pretty often, counting mine and my immediate neighbours. Don't know whose the other 3 regular hunting guests are. These guys are spread over 20+ acres of field and scrub; they mostly don't seem to venture into the woods beyond.

I have a really tremendous volume of voles and plenty of mice and rats to boot. The cats are always hunting in the garden and pasture/grass areas... I see plenty of rodent kills and corpses, but the local birds seem very well aware of them, warning calls galore. Never seen them get close to a bird, I'm sure they get some, but doubt that it is devastating in this environment..

In 18 months I know of only one bird fatality from my cat;  this bird hit a window, so whether it would have survived without the helping jaws of my cat is unknown...
 
pollinator
Posts: 685
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
130
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have not found a cat that will stick around if I chase them, arms outstretched, screaming "kitty kitty kitty!" like a crazy person.
 
Posts: 53
20
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have tried everything.  What worked best for me as a temporary solution is a battery operated squirt gun (Amazon) - $15. And it also makes these obnoxious very loud sounds when it squirts.  I add a little vinegar to the water.  The scarecrows (water activated sprinklers, were a big pain.  I was continually forgetting to turn them off before I went into the garden.....thus it was I, not the cats receiving unwelcome cold baths.  I tried humane traps. Expensive ones. A lot of feral cats stay alive because they have a good sense of things.  They aren't going to go anywhere near something like a trap no matter how good the food inside smells, and it also has your smell all over it.  Plus, I was not feeling really good about taking them to the pound to be euthanized.  

I also use Tramadal. It is an opoid.  My husband stopped taking them for his injury.  As a last resort if all other things don't work....I begin to feed the feral cat.  Eventually they will show up at the time you put out the food, they seem to have quite good internal clocks.  Then I crush up a couple of Tramadol and they quietly and peacefully go into permanent sleep.  This makes me feel a lot better than hurting them or traumatizing them.....after all, aren't we living like this to be better than city people who are often selfish in nature?

The squirt gun also works for pigeons, which can be a problem here in the desert.

But my ultimate solution...was a long term solution.  I try to look and implement long term solutions so life can be as peaceful as possible for me.  I did two things. First I moved everything I grow to either hydroponics or air pruning pots.  For things I couldn't move, I laid down hardware wire. Plastic fencing, aviary netting, anything like that works.  Laying down cactus didn't work because then I was the one getting stuck with spines when trying to work in that area.

Dogs "can" work, but none of the 10 dogs I have ever had were even remotely interested in chasing cats.
 
We can walk to school together. And we can both read this tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/45/pmag
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic