Neighborhood cats roaming around our yards can be fun occasionally, but they can also do damage to areas such as gardens. And if you use mulch, you may find your neighborhood cats enjoy using the area as a litter box. Or maybe it’s your own kitty that wants to play around in the mulch. Either way, you don’t want to have to keep constantly cleaning out mulched areas, so you’ll need a way to keep your feline pals from spending time there.
But how? There are several ways to do this, actually! Below you’ll find 12 tips on how to keep cats out of mulch. All of them are quite simple, and you can choose more than one deterrent to increase the chances cats won’t come near your mulch. Here’s what to do.
The 12 Tips to Keep Cats Out of Mulch
1. Chicken Wire
It might not be elegant, but this solution is simple and low-cost: chicken wire. You can use chicken wire as fencing around mulched areas to keep cats out, or you can lay pieces over the mulch to make it uncomfortable for cats to walk on. Just be sure to push pointed ends and sharp spikes into the ground so kitties don’t step on them and hurt themselves. And if you’re going the fencing route, you don’t have to use chicken wire; you could use anything really, such as potted plants or wood.
We just said our feline friends won’t enjoy walking on chicken wire because it’s uncomfortable on their paws. Creating textures kitties won’t enjoy in mulched areas with other things will work as well. Anything uneven or textured should work, but an excellent option is pine cones. Placing several dried pine cones in the mulch will make the surface of the area uncomfortable for cats. Just don’t use pine cones that have newly dropped, as they’ll still have sharp edges that could injure. You can also use something like stone mulch to make the surface uneven.
3. Scat Mat
Scat mats are another great way to deter felines from your mulch. Much like chicken wire or pine cones, they create a texture cats aren’t fans of due to the blunt rubber or plastic spikes the mats have. You also don’t risk accidental injury with scat mats because the spikes are blunt enough not to stick in a cat’s paws. Simply cover mulch beds with a few scat mats and watch the area become cat-free! This option costs a little more than chicken wire or pine cones, but it isn’t expensive.
4. Break Things Up
Breaking up the surface area of the mulch will easily keep felines from using your mulch as a litter box, but it’s a little more work and a little more costly than other options. But it’s easy enough to accomplish; you only need to place some river rocks or flagstones (or anything similar) in the mulch where cats like to hang out. Doing this gives cats less area to work with, and, depending on the type of rocks you use, they may not enjoy the texture on their paws.
5. Commercial Cat Repellent
Using a commercial cat repellent is a cost-effective deterrent to felines that want to play in your mulched areas. Particularly repellents that use predator urine—such as coyote urine. Felines are scared of predators such as coyotes, so they should avoid areas where they think predators might be. Just spray the repellent liberally around the area of mulch you want to keep kitties away from. You can easily find commercial cat repellents online and these are safe to use around plants! However, be aware that you might not enjoy the smell of predator urine.
6. DIY Cat Repellent
Want to save money while deterring kitties away from your mulch? Then make your own cat repellent! It’s simpler than you think. For example, cats loathe the smell of citrus, so you could mix a cup of lemon, lime, or orange juice with half a cup of water and spray it around your mulched area. You could also try blood meal fertilizer, which makes an excellent fertilizer for your garden but has an odor strong enough to deter felines from wandering in (just don’t overdo it with this one, as it can burn plants!).
7. Plant Repellent
You can also use specific plants to repel cats, as certain ones are pungent to felines. Plus, it’s a win-win situation for you as you can keep kitties away, have lovely flowers, and even have some herbs to use in cooking, depending on what you plant! Some of the plants that cats dislike include coleus canina (scaredy cat), lavender, rue, pennyroyal, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, and lemon thyme.
8. Morning and Evening Watering
Want to keep your mulch beds unappealing for felines? Then keep it wet the majority of the time. This is a simple but more time-consuming option—if you spray down your mulch in the morning and the evening, it should keep the area damp enough to turn off cats looking for a bathroom or a place to nap. If you haven’t the time to keep things wet, though, stick with an easier solution like scented repellents.
9. Water Sprinkler
This one has less to do with keeping mulch wet and more to do with keeping cats wet. Setting up a motion-activated sprinkler that blasts felines when they enter your mulched areas should deter them fairly well. Felines dislike the sensation of being wet (and some aren’t fans of the noise of the sprinkler). This option is probably not a year-round solution, but it could be excellent in the warmer months.
If a motion-activated water sprinkler isn’t an option, you might try a motion-activated alarm that will make noise and scare cats when they approach. The cons are that if the noise is loud enough, it could irritate you and your neighbors. Ultrasonic repellents are popular, too, and often used to ward off wildlife, but there are some that are made specifically for felines. These don’t always work, though, so you’ll need to do your research before investing in one.
11. Remove Temptation
Cats are curious and love to explore the new and unknown. So, if they think there’s something interesting to be found in your mulch beds, they’ll wander right in. You can help keep them out, though, by removing temptations. That means getting rid of possible sources of food or hiding spots and areas that might attract rodents or other small animals tempting to felines. This probably won’t keep kitties 100% out, but it should keep them less curious.
This likely won’t work with neighborhood cats, but if it’s your own kitty that’s wandering into your mulch and playing around or using it as a litter box, you could simply train them to avoid it. You can do this by using one of the cat repellents listed above (like the citrus water) or by placing double-sided tape in the parts of the mulch bed they like going (your feline won’t enjoy the feel of tape stuck on its paws!). You can also reward your pet when it avoids the area, so it gets the idea it should stay away. This option will take time and patience, though!
Keeping your or neighborhood cats out of your mulch may seem like an impossible dream, but it can be done! There are plenty of ways to deter felines from the areas you don’t want them to be in, such as cat repellents (natural or commercial), textures they dislike, and more. Some options are quick and simple; others will cost a little and take more time. You might also want to combine more than one of these tips to be more effective. But keeping felines away from your mulched areas is a possibility!
Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock