5 ‘effective’ methods to prevent cats and foxes pooing in your garden

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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Gardeners invest their time, money and labour into their green spaces. Homeowners often use this place to rest their mind, and they want their children or grandchildren to be able to play in it, safe and undisturbed. Cats and foxes, however, have different plans for gardens. They find it suitable for their business and use it as a giant litter box and a fighting arena. Plants end up getting pooped on, and new seeds and bulbs get dug out by them. To finally put an end to this, Matt Jordan, Gardening Expert for The Greenhouse People, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk on his top tips for deterring cats and foxes from fouling in gardens.

He said: “Much to the dismay of their owners, many pets will eat their own poo and other animal faeces. However, this is a very dangerous habit for your pet – animal poo can host a variety of diseases and parasites. One of the deadliest for dogs is parvovirus which is highly contagious and often fatal in unvaccinated dogs.

“Not only is poo dangerous to pets, but can also harm humans. Cat stool poses a very serious threat to both humans and other cats alike and should never be left to fester in the garden. 

“Toxoplasmosis is an infection which infected cats can pass on to humans through their faeces and is particularly dangerous for those who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems. Follow my top five tips to prevent cats and foxes from pooing in your garden.”

1. Keep it trim

Foxes and cats like to feel safe and secure, and a garden with overgrown areas can provide shelter for them. For those trying to avoid these animals coming into and settling in gardens, give it a tidy. 

Matt said: “Foxes love overgrown areas, so keeping your garden neat and tidy is a sure and effective way to help deter foxes from doing their business in your backyard.

“Focus on keeping your grass trimmed short, cutting back any overgrown bushes or shrubbery and keeping planting schemes tightly packed to avoid attracting foxes to den in your garden overnight and encouraging cats to come and dig in your garden.”

But bear in mind that overgrown areas are also sanctuaries for lots of other wildlife, such as hedgehogs, while allowing wildflowers to grow will also help pollinators.

2. Make your own DIY repellent

Foxes have a very strong sense of smell and will eat almost anything. Gardens with chickens or rabbits, or bird food, accessible bins, and crops will be particularly appealing.

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The gardening pro warned: “Pests like foxes use scents to mark their territory to return to at a later date, which unfortunately for your garden means it’ll become that fox’s personal toilet.

“Spraying a vinegar mixture over your plants and lawn will help rid your garden of any marking scents and stop them from returning. You can also try adding scents foxes don’t like, such as garlic or chilli peppers. To repel cats, try citrus smells or herbaceous fragrances such as lavender, rosemary and peppermint.”

If a territory has been marked by a fox, it will take some persistence to persuade them to move on, and if they feel their territory is threatened then gardeners may find they increase the amount of marking.

3. Invest in motion-sensor deterrents

As mentioned above, foxes and cats like to feel safe, so a motion sensor light or even sprinklers can be used to deter foxes.

Matt explained: “Foxes and cats are more likely to move on from gardens where they don’t feel secure, so sudden lights, noises and sensations should scare off unwanted guests and prevent your garden from becoming a public toilet.

“Motion-activated lights are not only a good investment for your home’s safety, but they also conveniently keep foxes, cats and other pests at bay without bringing animals to harm.

“Alternatively, sprinklers are a popular option for struggling gardeners. Cats infamously aren’t fans of water, so making sure your grass and flowerbeds are damp will deter them from toileting in your garden.” Be aware that they may get used to certain methods so gardeners might like to try a variety of tactics.

4. Remove food sources

One reason cats and foxes may come sniffing around a garden is to “seek out food”, according to the expert. So he suggested: “You’ll need to remove bird feeders and make sure your bins are secure.

“A sudden surge in cat and fox droppings could even be a sign that mice have found their way into your garden and are attracting predators. Double-check that your compost pile hasn’t become a rodent nest and that there aren’t any food scraps attracting vermin.”

5. Introduce uncomfortable textures

This tip works for foxes but is mainly effective for deterring cats in particular, as they are “very sensitive to strange-feeling textures”, so gardeners can easily deter them by being mindful of the type of materials being used in gardens, explained Matt.

He said: “For example, try spreading larger mulch chunks or rocks across flower beds to keep cats away. You can also lay some thin chicken wire over the surface of your soil for a safe way to make your garden uncomfortable to step on.

“Be wary that if you have stony areas in your garden, avoid using too fine a gravel which could be misinterpreted as a large litter tray for cats. You should avoid using any spikes or dangerous materials that could bring harm to your neighbouring felines and foxes.”

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