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We have two cats (both female, 6 & 4 yrs old). The older one is becoming less mobile (can't get over the fence), and has started taking to digging up the lawn to do her business. Whenever I see her do it I run and shoo her away, which seems to work for a day or two, but then she starts again. There is a border along the edge which we don't particularly care about, and I've seen her use that before.

I saw a related question for dogs: Is there anything I can put on my lawn to prevent my dog from digging? but I don't think that answer would work for our cat.

We could go back to using a litter tray but that seems an awful pain. Does anyone have any ideas on ways to encourage her to go elsewhere? I saw this article Natural Cat Repellents which suggests growing catnip plants and/or a sandbox. But how healthy would a catnip solution be in the long term for the cat? And I'm not sure about a sandbox, since we have a young child (and another on the way!) who would probably make a beeline for that as soon as our backs are turned!!

Any help appreciated.

  • Why not make steps or a "ramp" to help make it easier for the cat to get over the fence? – WebChemist Oct 7 '13 at 15:30
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Tdc, at 6 years old, your cat should still be running about like a 2 year old. Cats are middle aged to old when they get to 9 years and onwards, so if your cat is having difficulty moving about, I suggest a trip to the vets or the local RSPCA/PDSA clinic. It's also very odd for any cat to scratch in grass - they always prefer loose material to do their business in because it's easier to move around. Tom cats sometimes use long, uncut grass as a toilet, but female cats, never. In the meantime, if its been a while since you turned the soil over in the border, give it a dig now to loosen it up - this might be enough to persuade the cat to go there instead of the grass, once she discovers how much easier it is. But I still can't help thinking the poor cat has an underlying health issue.

  • The border did get very dry over the summer (we don't have a lot of time for gardening!!) so maybe that was the problem. I've been told that 6 is definitely middle-aged for a cat (she had a litter at age 2, and still has the belly to show for it) - e.g. here, and she may be 7 rather than 6 (she was a rescue cat, so age is approximate). A trip to the vet is due soon anyway (to top up vaccinations) so I'll see what they say. – tdc Oct 8 '13 at 10:17
  • Good, ask him to check her over. Perhaps its because she's too fat that she can't jump the fence any more, but all my cats were very active right up to 12 years old, still jumping about, so something's not right. – Bamboo Oct 8 '13 at 12:06

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