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Q. My next door neighbor has three cats. Every year when I plant my flowers and have my beds looking so nice the cats come over and relieve themselves in the beds. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to repel them? I am at the end of my rope!

Q. I have a small amount of ground and would like to plant a tomato plant an eggplant and zucchini. PROBLEM: Some cats have used my dirt as their restroom and now I don't think I want to plant food plants in that dirt. Plus they probably will mess where I plant. How can I handle this? Planting in an area that cats have used so their restroom. Without doing harm to the cats how can I discourage them from doing their duty in my small plot of earth?

A. Your problem is a very common one and the reason it remains so is because there is no surefire cure. I could make a million with a perfect solution! Imagine the research...

But try:

1. Ground mothballs or napthalene flakes out of a box. The whole balls can be deadly and we love animals way too much for that [my Tuxedo forced me to write this!] but the nasty smell is a good deterrent. Do not use the flakes around veggies as the chemical leaches into the soil and could affect what you eat!

2. Citronella oil eucalyptus oil or ammonia sprinkled onto used teabags and placed in the garden.

3. Place the prunings from rose bushes in the garden where cats frequent. They hate the sharp thorns.

4. Dried orange lemon lime peels.

5. Bamboo skewers poked into the soil around new seedlings about 6-8" apart. Cats find it too difficult to get in the bed and dig. It looks a bit funny but once the seedlings have grown you can pull them out. I do not like this idea since they can easily puncture the delicate stomach of the cats and cause horrible injury.

6. Go to a local bulk grocery store and buy large bags of ground fine pepper. Sprinkle it around the garden. Also sprinkle around the place where the cats enter the beds.

7. The more plant material on the surface (whether in the form of fresh mulch or closely packed plantings) the less likely cats are to dig a hole there. It only does 'it' because it likes the feel of the sandy soil - I guess it's close to the consistency of her litter.

8. There is a cat/dog deterrent in the shops which come in gel pellets. What they consist of I don't know but they are supposed to scare them away due to some smell that comes from these gel pellets when they are wetted down on the beds. They cost about $10 a pack by Multicrop.

Besides these I recently saw a product at my local nursery called "SkunkShot". There is a website for it at

Q. We are having a terrible time keeping the neighbor's cats out of our garden. If they just wanted to come over and visit that would be fine but they don't. No matter what we put down they use it. The vegetable garden flower beds bark ground cover compost ground just doesn't matter to them. It is so frustrating to work so hard getting the yard to look halfway decent and then within 24 hours it is messed up. Is there anything humane yet effective we can do to keep them from doing this? We have a reptile/chelonian in the yard so we want to be careful not to do anything that would bother her in the process.

A. Please refer to past and very recent discussions of cat problems in garden beds. There is no surefire method but I have included some suggestions. Best of luck.

Q. While searching for SkunkShot I found your note in Garden suggestions. You mentioned that you had seen this product in a local nursery. I would be most grateful for any information you can give me on where to find this product locally. I live in Marin County North of San Francisco.

A. I have not looked for it since a little time before that post so I would suggest checking [maybe by phone first to save gas] Walmart Home Depot and Lowe's. I believe I found it at Sloat Nursery in San Francisco but large hardwares with good gardening selections are worth checking. Be careful in its application as the odor is very strong. It is the latest and most effective cat and dog repellent on the market. SkunkShot utilizes the natural and nontoxic chemistry of the skunk in a long lasting waterproof gel to provide a long term solution to problem cats and dogs and the mess they can make of your lawn or garden. Developed by Victoria University scientists Skunkshot is a great dog and cat deterrent and is highly effective in protecting cars boats

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