Love them or loathe them, cats are the creatures that divide the gardening community.

We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes – cats are wonderful creatures that bring joy to their owners up and down the land. They’re independent and don’t need walking which makes them the best kind of pet if you’re looking for love without the ball and chain of multiple dog walks each day. But they also have a habit of infuriating even the most even-tempered of gardeners.

What’s the problem?

Precisely because of their independent spirits, cats roam their territory and often find empty soil the perfect place to poop – to put it bluntly. The jury does appear to be out about the health risks of cat poop in the garden – particularly the veg patch. Concerns seem to be most targeted at pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Aside from being deeply unpleasant to deal with, the best advice is to avoid growing edible plants in poop-infested soil – and to do your own research, insert disclaimer here.

There are hundreds of cat deterrent methods out there: some from the realms of folklore, and some from actual hard and fast science. We’ve put together the best of them for you.

Before we get started, none of the following deterrents are designed to hurt cats – that would just be totally horrible. We definitely do not advocate anything that would hurt any cat.

Deterrents

Sharp objects like wooden skewers, old CDs planted into the soil on their side, large stones with sharp edges (definiately not small ones that look like kitty litter), short bamboo canes, and rose cuttings (especially the thorns) are all believed to work especially well. Cats like empty soil and they don’t like anything sharp and prickly – they will avoid such areas at all costs. Filling the empty spaces of your veg patch or garden bed with sharp things means they should get the hint.

Repelling cats from particular areas of your garden can work wonders. You can make or buy scented spray repellents but do remember that these will need to be re-applied after rain. Anything citrus scented added to water should help to see off persistent moggy offenders.

Planting certain plants like lavender, geranium, and plants from the garlic family like chives may also work. The jury appears to be most undivided about this one though so proceed with an open mind.

Final tips

Remember cats are creatures of habit, this means that habits are tough to break but once they are broken, it should mean that your problem is solved. Cats also aren’t malicious. Take all cat crimes with a pinch of salt – they really aren’t out to get you personally, they’re just doing what comes naturally. With this in mind, also remember that un-neutered tomcats can - and will - travel many miles on the promise of lady cats. These guys are not your local friendly neighbourhood cats, these guys are out for one thing only and will soon be gone. If you have a tomcat on the prowl in your garden, wait it out – they’ll soon be on to the next female feline they can sniff out.