Cats Used Vegetable Garden as Litter Box |Daphne Richards |Central Texas Gardener

– Our question comes from Evelyn Myler, who,
like many gardeners, wants to know if she can plant vegetables in a bed that cats have
used as a litter box. Well Evelyn, I’m so glad you asked, because
the short answer is no. Unfortunately, pet waste can transmit toxic
diseases if it comes into physical contact with the plant part that we plan to eat, and
it takes pet waste a long time to decompose in the soil. And in the case of cats, we have to be extra
careful of coming into contact with the waste ourselves, due to the potential to contract
toxoplasmosis. Good hygiene practices such as wearing gloves,
can greatly reduce the risk when we interact with soil containing pet waste, but it’s best
to just avoid the possibility altogether and limit contaminated areas of your yard to ornamental,
rather than edible, plants. But, in better news, if you have space in
your garden for an alternate site to grow edible plants and can implement some strategies
to keep pets out of that area, we can give you some work-arounds. For ideas on how to deter cats from garden
beds, we checked with Molly Pikarsky, Flora and Fauna Manager at Lake Austin Spa, and
mom to lots of pets. She points out that cats are creatures of
habit, so note where kitty likes to go, and replace a section of your normal garden soil
with sand in that area. You could also set up a new area of sand and
try to tempt your kitties into that designated area. And consider planting catmint or catnip nearby,
as an extra enticement. Another strategy is to apply a very thick
layer of large aggregate hardwood mulch around your vegetables. Since it’s harder for kitties to scratch through
those large pieces and reach the soft, finer texture of the soil below and will make the
sandy area that you’ve ceded to them more appealing. You could also apply some type of physical
barrier, such as chicken wire, between the mulch and your soil, taking care to leave
enough room for plants to grow without being restricted. One drawback to this strategy is that garden
snakes may get caught in the wire, so that solution may not be for everyone. If you’ve got tips for keeping cats out of
beds, send them on to It’s always fabulous when viewers let us know
that our tips worked for them! Lila Bass sent in pictures of her beautiful
Lady Banks rose. For 16 years, it never bloomed. Then, she took our advice to not prune in
February. Lady Banks and other climbers, unlike other
roses, should be pruned only after blooming, in late spring or early summer, though you
can do some correctional pruning in fall. Now, Lila’s rose blooms every year on the
anniversary of her mom’s passing. Swallowtails are certainly out and about in
Central Texas. Susie Epstein’s mountain laurels attracted
this beauty, possibly an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. And Jim Lidgey snapped this beauty nectaring
on the flowers of a yellow buckeye. He also caught this Juniper Hairstreak on
a Death Camas. And on a recent tramp through the woods, he
spied these lovely little Spring Coral Root orchids. We’d love to hear from you! Check out to share
your stories, pictures and video.

2 thoughts on “Cats Used Vegetable Garden as Litter Box |Daphne Richards |Central Texas Gardener

  1. Came here just to make sure toxoplasmosis was mentioned (which it was, awesome!). It is especially important for pregnant women to avoid cat litter to avoid congenital toxo infection.

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