Why do cats start to poop in the garden?

Whether your own cats or neighbours’ cats are responsible for pooping in your garden, it can be a challenge to manage!

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that cats have the right to roam by law and are legally allowed to visit your garden. It is also an offence, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to harm a cat in any way (even by accident). So, we need to carefully consider the methods we choose to shoo moggies who mess in our gardens.  

Why do cats poop in the garden?

Understanding why our feline friends ‘go’ in the garden makes it easier to manage their mess.

Scent marking

While cats usually keep it clean by burying their ‘business’, some cats can’t help themselves from marking territory.

If a cat is pooping in the open, a.k.a. ‘middening’, they’re telling other felines your gorgeous garden is off-limits (you could think of it as a compliment!). This type of open-air scent marking tends to happen in places with a large population of cats.

Personal preference

Some less fussy felines find gardens perfect for pooping; simple as that! 

Caught short

Cats are curious creatures. Sometimes, while they’re busy being nosy in a neighbour’s garden, your feline friend (or fiend!) gets caught short, leaving an unpleasant ‘present’ among the flowers.

How can I stop cats pooping in my garden?

As mentioned, it’s important not to use deterrents that are dangerous to cats. 
Luckily, there plenty of positive practices to prevent feline friends from pooping in your garden!

Just say “shoo”

An age-old solution, saying “shoo” is often enough to stop cheeky cats using your lovely lawn as a toilet. 

Organise an obstacle course

Cats can be contrary, which means they aren’t bothered by doing business in the open, but they’re unlikely to walk across items they find ‘icky’.

  • Twigs – drop some twigs around your lawn and flowerbeds, as the prickly sensation on their paws should deter curious kitties from hanging around.
  • Eggshells – not only useful for keeping cats away from flowerbeds (as they dislike clambering across them), but the humble eggshell also protects plants from pests; and, because they’re natural products, eggshells will eventually turn into compost, win-win!
  • Mesh – using small sections of mesh around precious plants, like vegetables, will stop toileting tabbies in their tracks.
  • Shrubs – planting plenty of shrubs and bushes beside your garden fence will make your garden less accessible for cats to use as their loo.
  • High fences – having high fences, and hedges, protecting your garden can make it harder for felines to fight their way in to foul around your flowers. 

Spread strong smells

Sensitive senses make the cleverest of cats think twice before pooping on your lawn. 

There are several scents that’ll send felines fleeing from your garden:

  • Lavender – growing lavender is a great way to keep toileting tomcats at bay.
  • Citrus – decorating your flowerbeds with some citrus peel (orange and lemon are best!) works well to keep your garden safe from pooping toms.
  • Banana – believe it or not, cats dislike the smell of bananas, so scattering some finely chopped, overly-ripe banana around your plants might be enough to protect them from being used as a loo; however, it’s best not to leave banana out too long, in case it attracts pests!

Place pebbles around plants

As adventurous as cats can be, most of them don’t like paths that are rocky.
Placing pebbles between plants will prevent felines from fouling around your flowers.

Keep bird seed out-of-reach

Wild birds bring all the cats to your yard!

Cats don’t want to share the neighbourhood’s best bird buffet. By keeping bird feeders off the ground, away from prying cats’ eyes, local felines won’t find your garden as appealing anymore. 

Create a cat-safe corner

Doesn’t matter whether they’re friend or foe, cats do still have to ‘go’.

So, instead of fighting feline foe for garden privileges, set up a safe space for them to poop in peace and they’re more likely to stay away from your flowers.

  • Safe in sand – dig a small hole and fill it with non-toxic, soft playground sand.
  • Outdoor litter tray – offer an outdoor pooping place for your feline friend.
  • Woodchip – woodchip works wonders when tempting tabbies to toilet in a specific spot!

Safely managing cat poop in the garden

Keeping your garden clean can prevent pooping toms from visiting time and again. 
Regularly washing patio or paved areas with soapy water, as well as picking up cat scat with doggy bags (and a poop scoop), is helpful because, often, felines realise their scent marking efforts aren’t working and they move on. 

If cats ‘going’ in your garden becomes a big issue, contact a local vet for advice.




Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.