Intelligent, independent, rat-catching and free-roaming, cats are often seen as the perfect pets. But where there are pets, there’s poo, and in the case of free-range cats, it can be an unwelcome discovery in your garden.
Not only is cat poo unpleasant, but it’s also riddled with bacteria and may also contain harmful parasites. It’s definitely not something you want in your garden so how can you stop stray cats or even your own pampered puss from doing their business on your lawn?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why our furry friends sometimes use the grass as a toilet and how you can deter them from doing so.
Why do cats poop on grass?
You may have heard that cats always bury their mess and in many cases, this is true, however, sometimes a cat will just decide to poop on the lawn.
All cats from lions to domestic kitties like to mark their territory. Sometimes it’s done with urine and sometimes, unfortunately, it’s poop. Also known as ‘middening’, cats may leave a visible territory marker to other cats, letting them know who’s boss. It’s often done when a cat feels its territory is under threat.
Check out our guide on ways to stop cats from spraying in your garden.
At other times, a cat may just prefer to toilet on the grass, infuriating as it is, there are a number of ways to solve the problem.
Why has my cat started pooping on the lawn?
If your cat has suddenly swapped the litter tray for the lawn, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. Cats are creatures of habit and will usually have a preferred pooping area, whether it’s a flowerbed, a litter tray or the grass.
Whether your cat has suddenly started using your grass as a toilet, or if there is a change in their poop, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet to rule out any possible health issues.
Is cat poop dangerous for your garden?
Although cat poop won’t harm your garden, it can pose a danger to you. Some cats harbour a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. Also known as T. gondii, this parasite is ingested when cats eat birds and other wild animals. Cats shed the oocysts (the tough, thick-walled structures in which new parasites develop) in their faeces. If ingested, the parasite can cause Toxoplasmosis in humans.
Although usually harmless (our immune systems are pretty good at destroying it), Toxoplasmosis can cause serious health problems in some people, especially pregnant women and those with weak immune systems.
T. gondii parasites are usually picked up through direct contact with cat poo but you can also get it from contaminated soil. To lessen your risk of ingesting this parasite, make sure you always wear gloves when gardening and thoroughly wash your hands after any contact with cat poop. Treat cat poo like dog poop, bag it up and chuck it in your black bin, not the green garden waste bin or compost heap.
How to stop cats from pooping on your lawn
There are several tried and tested ways to stop cats from pooping on the grass, just bear in mind that a cat has to go somewhere, so their next spot may not be ideal either!
1. Install an ultrasonic cat deterrent
If you’re wondering what stops cats pooping on the lawn, an ultrasonic deterrent may be the answer. Emitting a noise that’s loud to cats but inaudible to us, the deterrent works by discouraging cats from entering the area. These devices won’t harm cats, birds or other wildlife and they can be an effective solution. You can choose from a range of solar or battery-powered models that emit sound over varying distances.
Disadvantages are that the battery-operated devices can use up a lot of batteries and you may need more than one deterrent to cover the area. There’s usually a battery indicator on the deterrent so you know when to replace the batteries but you’ll need to check it regularly.
2. Fit a motion sensor water jet
Most cats hate getting wet so a motion-activated water jet spray could be the answer to your cat poop problems. When the built-in sensor detects motion, it’ll dispense a jet of water for a few seconds. You can adjust the swivel area of the sprinkler on some models to ensure maximum coverage. The water won’t harm cats but it’ll hopefully make them think twice before going back to the area again.
3. Apply an odour repellent
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell that’s about 14 times stronger than ours and there are some odours that all felines despise.
Citrus, vinegar, herbs such as lavender and rosemary, banana, mustard and hot chillis are all repugnant to cats. You can buy a range of cat-repellent sprays or granules that won’t harm wildlife and are safe for the environment. Most are derived from natural, organic ingredients.
You can also make a range of DIY cat repellent sprays using essential oils, citrus peel, vinegar, garlic and pepper. If you decide to make your own, let us know in the comments which is the most effective cat repellent for lawns!
4. Lay a cat repellent mat
Effective at keeping cats away from plants and preventing them from walking and pooping on covered areas, cat repellent mats are covered in small plastic spikes. The spikes won’t harm cats but they’re very effective at deterring them from walking wherever the mats are placed.
5. Plant spiky foliage
Depending on the areas where cats are fouling, you might be able to deter them by planting spiky or thorny plants in the flowerbed. Darwin’s barberry (Berberis darwinii), English holly and pyracantha are all attractive, evergreen intruder-proof choices.
6. Get creative with DIY deterrents
If cats are targeting a particular area of your lawn, a flowerbed or vegetable garden, try inserting spiky sticks, sprigs of holly or thorny plants like brambles, or being inventive with other spiky objects.
7. Add large stones or gravel
If cats are using your flowerbed as a litter tray, consider filling areas with large stones. I’ve had great success with large slate chips, gravel and big pebbles. Make sure that the stones are at least 4-5cm large for the best results.
8. Scatter lion poo
Now, you may have heard that lion poop can be used to deter cats. It also works as an effective plant fertiliser so is worth a try! Fortunately, it’s available to buy in pellet form online, so no trips to the zoo needed.
9. Provide an alternative litter spot
If you’ve exhausted all the above suggestions and you’re still wondering how to stop cats pooping on the lawn, you could provide an alternative litter tray. This may work better if your own cat is the culprit as cleaning up after other people’s cats isn’t ideal. A tray or shallow trench filled with sand or cat litter is a good option.
What smells deter cats from pooping in my garden?
Citrus is universally disliked by cats (although my slightly strange kitten will willingly sniff a lime…) Nala excepted, cats are repelled by rosemary, thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, mustard, pepper, cinnamon, banana, mint and pine.
How can I stop cats from getting into my garden in the first place?
Preventing cats from entering your garden is easier said than done, particularly if you have a large, open garden. However, you can deter cats by using ultrasonic cat deterrents, motion-activated water jets and plastic spikes along walls. Planting spiky plants by entryways will help too. And, if all else fails, getting a cat or dog of your own is an excellent way to fend off any feral feline intruders.