Indoor/outdoor cat litters in the neighbors yard

by Mira Cecen
(Toronto, ON)

My next door neighbor had complained that our cat litters her yard. We have the indoor litter box and he uses it on a regular basis, but obviously does it outdoors as well.

I believe he is marking the territory, but it must be very annoying to the neighbor. Do you have a suggestion on how to train him not to liter in the certain area outdoors.

Thanks and best regards,

My thoughts:

In a nutshell, you can try what I call the encourage/discourage method.

This is a big issue, and one more argument for the indoor cat. Some neighbors, especially gardeners, have been known to get so frustrated with cats that they've done harm to them. In fact, there are a number of gardening forums on the web with nasty arguments about this kind of thing.

My guess would be that your cat is probably marking. Also, when you're out of the house, you probably don't always come home to go to the bathroom if the public facilities are right there. Your cat doesn't either.

The methods that I describe (hopefully) will either temporarily or permanently discourage your cat from going in the area in question. There are basically two ways to do this. Either by making something more attractive for your cat than the neighbor's yard, or making your neighbor's yard unattractive, or both.

If you and your neighbor agree, you might try making the area unattractive to your cat. What does your cat like? Well, a litter box works well because it suits the cat's preference... sandy, loose, dirt-like materials. So, create the opposite in your neighbor's yard.

Try something rough or sharp in the area like pine cones, or small to medium sized loose rocks. Small lava rocks like those used for gas grills might work. Also, you can try the aluminum foil trick. Cats usually don't like to walk on aluminum foil (double sided tape or a rug turned upside down may work as well). So, if he's got a favorite spot, you can place aluminum foil down in the area. This could be a challenge outside with the weather conditions, but you could weight it down with rocks.

If he changes areas, you'll have to then also put foil (or pine cones or whatever) down in the new area and keep working this way until he gets discouraged. If this works, I can't guarantee that it will be lasting. Cats are extremely territorial, and I'm sure he views the neighbor's yard as part of his territory.

Another option is to get one of the motion sensor products on the market. Cat Stop uses a motion detector and a high frequency sound to deter the cat. Humans can't hear it, but cats are said to hate it. You can place this in the neighbor's yard (you may need more than one). I have no personal experience with this, but I've heard they can work.

Ok, so that is how to make the neighbor's yard not so cat friendly. Now, let's try to make your yard more attractive. Here's how...

First, cats like to eat grass. It gives them folic acid and sometimes seems to help them vomit up hair balls. They also usually love catnip (not all cats do, and it's a genetic trait. You can test this by buying some dried catnip and see if it has any effect on your cat). In the absence of catnip, a mint plant may do. Start growing "cat grass" in a pot, and a catnip plant.

Place the plants in your yard to attract your cat. Place them far enough away from your neighbor's yard that your cat will not be tempted to stray from the plants to go do his business in your neighbor's yard. Also, make sure that wherever you put the plants, that nearby, you either create a sand box, or an area of loose dirt that your cat can poop in. This hopefully will keep him going in your yard, and not your neighbor's yard.

One trick for the catnip is that you can grow it in a pot placed inside a small bird cage. The cage will protect the plant, but allow the leaves to extend out for the cat to reach. This way, your cat cat eat the catnip, but will not destroy the plant. The downside to this is that you'll have to secure the cage in some way, or the cage may end up in the next county as the cat pushes it around to get to the plant. :)

I hope that helps and good luck!

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Jan 29, 2008
My kitty is my baby, and you're a genius.
by: Veronica Y

That was hands down the most detailed and helpful piece I have read on any aspect of cat ownership thus far. My kitty isn't allowed to go outside unless I have her safe in my arms, but I've had feral/outdoor cats before and this would have really helped in that situation. I just thought you should know I appreciate this post.

Jan 17, 2008
thanks much, this was great
by: mira

Thank you very much for great suggestions.

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