Four ‘successful’ methods to deter cats and foxes from gardens

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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Gardens are a very attractive place for all types of wildlife, including cats and foxes, which can cause huge damage to your outdoor space. While it may seem like a good idea to have wildlife in the garden, these two types of pests can be a nuisance for gardeners who spend lots of time taking care of their lawns, plants and flowers – especially when gardeners find these pests pooing in their garden.

It’s very likely that gardens form part of a cats and fox’s territory and, in an urban area where space is tight, they will constantly need to reassert control and protect their patch from neighbouring cats and foxes.

The way that these pests do this is by using their poo and urine to scent-mark prominent parts of their territory. They normally do this on a daily basis, which is why it can become such an irritating issue.

As cats are carnivores, their faeces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in other types of manure, such as horse and cow. 

As such there can be risks associated with cats defecating in vegetable patches, which is particularly attractive to cats as it often has freshly dug soil and bare earth.

The same goes for foxes fouling in gardens. Fox poo (and urine smells) awful and contains a lot of nasty germs, which makes it a particular worry for those with children and pets. 

After having enough of finding cats and foxes in her garden, a Mrs Hinch fan took to Facebook to ask how to deter these pests.

Lucy Rogers wrote: “How do you stop cats and foxes in your garden? Had enough of it now!”

The post received over 190 comments from fellow Mrs Hinch fans ready to offer up their top tips of how to rid gardens of cats and foxes.

The most popular ways of deterring these pests were to use ground pepper, tea bags, male urine and white vinegar.

1. Ground or cayenne pepper 

Any type of pepper will work to deter cats and foxes, whether that be black, cayenne or white.

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Renate Openshaw said: “Put ground pepper where they do their business. It works, keeps them away.”

Bethan Oliver agreed: “Use ground black pepper and renew after it rains. They don’t like the smell and won’t go near your garden.”

Kalina Jackson added: “For unwanted cats and foxes use pepper. I sprinkled it around the front garden first and in two days I haven’t seen any cats or foxes yet.”

2. Male urine 

The strong scent from human male urine masks a male fox’s and cat’s pungent scent and can often force them out. 

Barbara Single Elliot said: “Gross but works. I have my teenage boy wee in the garden once a week – no cats or foxes. They don’t like the smell.”

Sally Bannister replied: “Thats actually a true fact…foxes wont come into your garden if they smell urine from a male person, so spread urine around your garden to successfully get rid of them, but has to be done again after it rains.”

Grace Shaw commented: “If you have a male in the house, get them to pee in a bottle first thing in the morning and use that around your garden as a deterrent – pest control guy told me this and I can confirm it is effective!”

3. Tea bags

Cats and foxes have sharp senses, including a strong sense of smell that is sensitive to intense scents. Tea bags have a strong smell that most cats and foxes dislike, making them an effective deterrent. Anna Hall suggested: “Scatter a few tea bags around your garden. The strong scent will keep them from coming back.”

Sharon Pattinson said: “Select an area where you don’t want any cats or foxes and dig a small hole. Place the tea bags or tea leaves in the hole and only cover it with some leaves and twigs nearby.

“Burying tea bags in the soil will require a trowel and some discarded tea bags. Avoid covering the whole hole with soil and only cover it partially so the smell can get out.”

Gardeners can use a similar technique by using a plastic bottle. Pierce several holes into the sides of an empty plastic bottle. Pack in some tea bags, seal and then place the bottle in your garden. The scent of the tea bags will seep out of the holes but the bags themselves will be out of reach.

4. White vinegar 

Although usually reserved for cooking or baking, cleaning, or washing, white vinegar is also used for pest control.

White vinegar contains a lot of acetic acid and therefore carries a strong and potent smell. It is usually advised to spray it around gardens, dampen it in a cloth, or make use of a bowl filled with vinegar.

Jenny Rhodes commented: “I had a real bad problem with cats and foxes in my garden. I was told white vinegar sprayed on the areas they go on in your garden everyday keeps them away. And really works. Not had one since.”

Jane Garred Jeffery agreed: “Vinegar works well around the patio area, washing line pole etc.”

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