Our neighbor's cat keeps pooping in our mulch and around our yard. Is there a safe and effective way to stop neighborhood pets from doing so? Has anyone used a method that works well?

11 Answers 11


The usual advice (eg. on UK's "Gardener's Question Time") is to get some lion or tiger manure or urine, and to put that along your boundary line. At one time you had to wait until the circus was in town, but I think I heard somewhere that it was possible to buy big cat urine extract for this purpose. (It isn't a problem we have - we have a dog instead.)

I just did a quick Google and came up with a few including this which is pellet form so probably not as smelly.

There are so many potential puns here, let's just assume I said them all...


I've had good success with coffee grounds. I ask Starbucks for a bag of it every now and then and spread it evenly over the entire garden area.

The cat seemed to appear much less frequently after I started using it.

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    Not only good compost and worm food, but we started getting cheap Folger's from the local dollar store to keep the local tomcats out of the carrots. %&^*^& CATS! Commented May 27, 2014 at 22:30
  • Wouldn't this screw up your pH?
    – user6937
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 5:28
  • @fredsbend used grounds are very close to neutral since the tannic acid is water soluble and goes into the coffee. However spreading unused Folgers may effect the PH - but then again its bud light of coffees.
    – max
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:15

Cats tend to steer clear of very strong-smelling plants like mint and citrus, so you can plant these as deterrents in the areas they like to frequent.

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    Going to try some mint, though it may just take over.
    – Amanda
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 20:14
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    Lemon mint or Citronella may be the least likely to do this. NO SPEARMINT!!! Commented May 27, 2014 at 22:31
  • I'd like to add that many mints, like spearmint, peppermint, and cat mint (cat nip) spread very fast.
    – Bulrush
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:33
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    This is not a feasible option for folk with small(ish) gardens where growing space is precious.
    – Organic
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 19:19

Below are a few other options you may wish to look into:

  • "Scarecrow Motion-Activated Sprinkler" system.

  • "Ultrasonic Motion-Activated" system.

  • Liquid ammonia poured into a few small dishes (I use screw-top jam lids) and placed in areas you wish to discourage cats from frequenting is effective. I only use this method in areas away from the house due to the smell...

  • The herb Rue is said to effective.

  • As too is the "Scaredy cat plant" (now as the "Pee-off plant" in Europe).

  • Sprinkle Cayenne pepper onto areas you wish to discourage cats from frequenting is also said to work well. Caution/Warning: Going this route will cause the felines some temporary discomfort/pain (burning, irritation of the paws)...

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    I wonder how much cayenne is required and how long it would last? Presumably only really effective in dry climates. Capsaicin is meant to be produce the sensation of burning in most (all?) mammals - so it might have wider application?
    – winwaed
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 2:05
  • @winwaed I believe just a sprinkling is required & is effective until rain or irrigation system washes it away...
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 2:31
  • The cayenne pepper solution doesn't work at all. Maybe if it was Carolina Reaper powder it would but the regular stuff is useless for cat control. It's not like it is eating it. A neighbor's cat has decided my volcanic sand bed is the ideal litter box and uses it on a daily basis endangering the plants' roots. The black sand was bright red and the cat just did his business as usual.
    – user10810
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 5:05

This year I have had such a problem.

I am having partial success with "Ultrasonic Motion-Activated" system as proposed by Mike Perry. By partial I mean that the cats seem to stop pooping in the places where the system is installed, but move to other "corners" of the garden. I have moved the machine 3 times for now, the cats haven't yet returned to the first spot.

In my childhood, my grandparents used to have something like a compost pile, where they also put the fresh manure. And today I suddenly remembered that this was also the "toilet" for our cat. Furthermore, in the spring I spread quite a lot of manure throughout the yard and I am inclined to think it was a bit too fresh. Then, cat poops started appearing throughout the garden, and I even found some on top of the bags that used to hold the manure.

At the time I thought I was dealing with some crazy cat, but today everything has started making sense.

Cats like pooping at one and the same place, and they seem to be specifically attracted to the smell of composting manure. Therefore, they have started frequenting my yard after I added some fresh manure to it.

The ultrasonic thing + removing the poops as soon as spotting them seems to be helping a bit.

Next year I won't be adding manure, especially fresh one, for sure!


The problem is the mulch - cats like anything that's loose and which they can scratch and move around easily, so freshly dug soil, mulch, pea shingle, anything like that is the equivalent of cat litter so far as they're concerned. The best mulch to use to discourage cats is probably coca shell, if that's available - that has a habit of 'bonding' together to create a resilient mat.

Cut branches of holly and berberis do keep them off, but your borders don't look great with these laid all over. Sticks inserted also work, again, doesn't look great. Scaredy cat plant doesn't work, nor does tiger poo, tried it, they loved/ignored it.

The most effective I've found is the system with a PIR connected to a sprinkler - any movement in the garden means the sprinkler comes on. But that only works well if the sprinkler covers the whole area, obviously, and there's another drawback - windy days meaning excessive movement of plants may well trigger the sprinkler. Having a cat of your own helps to keep them out, and I found they don't like the old fashioned mothballs, the very smelly camphor ones - but you have to renew them every few days.

The other last resort (as far as I'm concerned) option is to provide somewhere they can go, like a smallish area of sand, which apparently works well, but obviously will need clearing out regularly.

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    I have also thought of adding a small cat-toilet for them, but really hope I'll manage to discourage them. The idea of cleaning neighbours' cat toilets constantly doesn't appeal to me. Plus, it'll look bad...
    – nettle
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 12:32
  • Agree, Nettle, bad enough clearing up your own animal's doings, without everyone else's as well. But at least its all in one place with a sand area.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 15:21

Holly leaves or other sharp thorny plants are a good deterrent, but obviously only work in areas where you are happy for such plants to exist!

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    I'm not so inclined to believe that thorny plants are all that much of a deterrent to a cat. My old house had massive amounts of bouganvilla growing along the fence. The cats knew it was a great place to hide where humans couldn't get them. A cat will sleep on a bed of thorns and do nothing but purr.
    – Bill
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 23:49

Place clear plastic water bottles in your garden, half fill them with water so it can be seen there is water inside. Cats and dogs mostly will not poop there as it by instinct not to.

Also, you can try putting sticks in your gardens, poking up! If there is no clear place to rest you bottom, then you will find another place where you can.


Go talk to your neighbor. Tell them you've got plants that are poisonous to cats (Do you have daylillies, canna, iris, calla lilly...I just learned these are very toxic to cats) and ask that they keep their cat indoors. Outdoor cats have very short lives.

Otherwise get a covered cat box, fill it with cat litter and put it close to your property line. Clean it every time your neighbors are watching...

I'm kidding. A squirt bottle with plain water works well. They learn quickly and will find another spot. The motion detector water-squirter would make more sense. Good luck...

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    My outdoors-only cat is going on 14. Very short is an overstatement.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 21:41
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    Barring accidents they easily have 20+years. Better than dogs!! Sad face...
    – stormy
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 22:28

I buy cheap cinnamon from the dollar store and sprinkle it around. I have to redo it after every rain. It really does work.


Its the behavior of the cats you want to change. Its pretty hard to stop them pooping everywhere without trying to stop them coming in. So if you like have cats in your garden you'll have to put up with it. When we moved house we got loads of cat poo, in a largeish city garden. Using scent markers - tiger urine etc - requires to much and has to be reapplied. Those ultrasonic devices only covered a small area, and were pretty anti social since all the kids could hear them. So every time we see a cat we tend to chase it out, clap at it. Any way to scare it so that it doesn't want to come in pur garden, thus not needing to 'mark' our garden with the scent of it's poo. There's very little poo nowadays.

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