In the wild, large cats use their waste to mark their territory. Dominate cats leave their feces unburied  as way to lay claim to their land. Less dominate cats bury their feces as an act of submission. I’m top cat ’round these parts. Cats will also bury their waste to prevent both predators and prey from learning the locations of their favorite hang outs.

So how do you rewire nature’s programing? Your best bet is to make your garden a less desirable place for cats to do their business. Dave is comfortable in my ugly make-shift garden bed. I’m a little embarrassed to show you the picture above. I had three tiny blueberry bushes and I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to plant them. I planted them in the ground where they would be happy until I found a permanent home for them.

I threw some bricks around them to keep my husband from mowing them. A domestic cat’s sense of smell is almost 14 times as strong as a human’s. Certain smells are unpleasant to cats. These things smell great to us. I’m sure Yankee Candle can attest to that. Planting things like lavender, rue, geranium, curry plant, rosemary, and citrus scented plants will deter cats from hanging around your garden. Lemongrass seems to be the exception.

Cats really like to nibble on lemongrass. Placing citrus peels or coffee grounds in your garden bed will also keep cats out. Go lightly with the coffee grounds. It can add a lot of acidity to your soil that many plants won’t appreciate. There are a few deterrents that are said to work well that aren’t as pleasant to us humans. When you brush against it, the smell is slightly skunky. That’s enough to scare anyone away.

Mulch will keep cats from digging up your flower beds. Its been said that mulching will keep a cat out of your flower bed. This is simply not true. My cats love to nap on warm mulch on a sunny day. While mulching doesn’t keep them out, it does keep them from using it as a litter box. The mulch makes it difficult to bury their waste.

They don’t like digging through it. Likewise, you can lay fencing, chicken wire or lattice over your garden bed. Your plants will grow through the lattice holes, but cats won’t be able to dig in the area. Spray bottle: a handy training tool. Spray bottles are my favorite tool for training indoor cats to stay off tables and counters. Give them a little spritz of water an they learn quickly not to repeat the behavior. Chasing cats around your yard with a spray bottle isn’t really efficient.

Instead you might try a motion activated sprinkler. To keep the cats from laying in my seed trays I place toothpicks in the soil. Walmart and our dollar store sell wood kabob skewers. Stick them in your flowers beds and cats won’t lay on your plants. I like this idea for potted plants, but I’m not so sure I want to pick them out of my garden beds when its time for re-planting. Find a small area and fill it with sand. They will be more apt to use it as a liter box than your garden. Cat’s can be stubborn at times, but they really are intelligent animals. When you are training a kitten to use the litter box and it poops on the floor, you are supposed to scoop up the poo and put it in the litter box. This teaches a kitten where its supposed to go. If you create a sand area for the cats and find that they are using your garden instead, scoop some waste out of the garden and put it in the sand.