When you think of cats in the garden, you might think of paintings like these:

The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch, c 1480 – 1490

See how they’re frolicking? Looks fun, right? Why is everyone naked? That’s just how fun it is! It’s literally called The Garden of Earthly Delights, and one of the delights is giant cats! (I’m not a cat person, so this doesn’t seem that delightful to me, but there also appears to be some kind of donkey-unicorn and some random butts just at the top of the scene. Awesome.) There’s also this one:

1024px-Mao_I_001<< Cats in the Garden, by Mao Yi, 12th century

Again with the frolicking. And the cats on the right look so shocked at what’s going on. SCANDALOUS! Cute, right?


Here’s a picture of what cats in the garden actually looks like:

IMG_20150609_203250<< Not shown: the actual cats

Since last summer, my neighbours’ cat (or possibly cats, can’t tell if both of them are in on it, but I’m assuming they are because I have a suspicious nature when it comes to cats) have been digging around and pooping in my garden. Furry little barbarians! The time they most like to do this is when the beds are freshly planted, which is also the time I least like them to do it, because they move the seeds around and lots of them don’t come up. Also, there’s poop. I may not have mentioned that. It’s super-gross and has bacteria.

My response when I first realized what was happening on the cat-front was fury. For one thing, as I mentioned, I am not a cat person. Secondly, it just seems typical of cats as a species that they would find an area where a human has been toiling, a patch of earth literally watered with human sweat, with hopes and dreams, and just be like, I’m gonna poop here. It’s not just gross, it seems deliberate. I know cats are probably not really planning their offensive behaviour like this, but it feels like they are.

So, as you can see in the picture above, I’ve been physically blocking the beds with plant trays, stray trellises, and window screens. (Fortunately, my raised beds make this relatively easy to do.) I also cooked up a batch of this organic and non-toxic cat repellent spray, recipe courtesy of the David Suzuki website.

IMG_1120This might seem/look kinda gross, but it actually smelled delicious – the main smell that won out over the others was cinnamon. For several days after I sprayed it, the whole garden smelled faintly of cinnamon.

I should have done these two things (spraying and blocking beds off) separately, so as to test their effectiveness, but I didn’t think of it. I don’t have a scientific mindset, I guess. I was too distracted by my rage.

The third component of garden protection that I’m employing is my dog, Emma. Normally I try to discourage her from chasing cats, but if they’re in the garden, I let her out the back door as stealthily as possible and hope she gives ’em hell. Surprise! Surprise and fear! That’s how you keep cats out of the garden.

emmaguarding (2)

Constant vigilance. And napping.

Since I started my three-prong offensive, I haven’t seen the cats or their droppings in the garden. In a way, I’m disappointed, because I wanted an excuse to buy some of Lee Valley’s elaborate cat-defense technology, like the CatStop. But for now, my homemade catstop seems to be working fine, it was cheap, and it smells like cinnamon.

Copyright note

These images are both of public domain images of paintings and come from the Wikimedia Commons. Thanks, Wikipedia. I WANT TO MARRY YOU.
Links: Mao | Bosch

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