Good Gardening: Cats In The Garden

Jun 7, 2016

Credit public domain

  I like cats- sometimes.  Burl Ives likes cats.  (Music from "Here Kitty").  But when I'm sifting my fingers through the soft spring soil preparing to put seeds in the ground, and I find the surprises the cats have left for me, I don't like them- at all.

  Of all the garden trouble makers I deal with, cats are the most annoying.  My freshly turned soil looks like a giant litter box through their cat eyes, and the results are bad in two ways.  
  First the aforementioned buried surprises.  But even worse is the digging they do.  All that scratching leaves delicate seedlings strewn about the surface of the soil-  roots in the hot sun instead of the moist ground.
  Fortunately, keeping cats out of the garden is easy.  Step 1 is a squirt gun.  A few sprays will start to teach them this is not the right place. ( Squirt Squirt) For those of you who don't have 24 hours a day to staff the guard tower, half inch bird netting put over the freshly turned earth will keep unwanted claws away.  Pull up the bird netting before the seedlings poke through too far, or you will do some unwanted thinning when you remove it. Chicken wire can be used in the same way.
  Exclusion is good- making things uninviting is effective too.  Scatter the round spiky seed pods from liquid amber trees around after putting seeds in the ground, and digging will be discouraged.
  But my favorite cat defense technique is plastic forks.  Strategically plant them - tines up- every six or eight inches in freshly seeded areas, and they will make squatting all but impossible for your feline friends, while providing a conversation piece in your yard.