Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You …

Now the time has come for me to take stock of which containers I will be using to plant up with what I hope will be a cornucopia of produce. The big problem with freshly filled containers, is the possibility that the neighbourhood cats think you are doing it for their benefit. I have tried many of the commercial cat deterrents and I can assure you, they don’t work. Two electronic cat scarers had cats sitting nonchalantly in front of them, doing nothing more than letting the batteries run down with the constant bleeping of the gadgets. Coleus Canina (scaredy cat plant) doesn’t work either, I offered one cat a sniff of it, it walked away but then came back for another sniff.

Many of the cat owners/lovers think gardeners should turn a blind eye when their little moggy avails itself of your freshly dug soil or newly filled containers, but the facts go a bit beyond leaving unpleasant deposits for someone else to dispose of, and worse if the gardener hasn’t noticed it until too late. This is the ‘surface’ problem of cats but much deeper than that is the concern of what else they leave behind.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasite left behind with cat waste, it contaminates the soil and can leach into frames of raised beds or wooden plant containers. Amongst many unpleasant results, it can lead to miscarriages in pregnant women or fetal malformation. Of course a toxoplasma infection can be picked up in almost anything and invading gardens and planters is only one means. While you make every effort to grow healthy produce, some little furry fiend might want to share a bit more with you than you bargained for. 

I know one of my containers has been cat invaded. I planted up spring bulbs at the end of the summer last year and no sooner were they planted but were obviously given the approval of a visiting feline. My neighbour has seven cats, all trained to the litter tray and even if outdoors, they will nip inside to use their loo. Unfortunately there are other cats in the neighbourhood who are not so fussy so the battle continues. My neighbour’s cats are also the reason I have been reluctant to use chilli powder as a deterrent. Theoretically, if cats get it on their paws, they will know about it when it comes to them performing their ablutions and cleaning the chilli powder off their little paws will let them know it would be unwise to pay another visit. It’s unpleasant for them, but not harmful.

I cover most of my planters with chicken wire or something similar but I wasn’t quick enough in this case. I don’t have many green shoots of the spring bulbs showing yet so I don’t know how many I have lost although, I don’t expect too many will have made it through the excavations and calling cards left by cats.

Cat owners may think their little ball of fur is clean indoors but it has to go somewhere and if not in a litter tray then it will go out to someone’s garden (seldom their own) and spread their little parasitic friends elsewhere for someone else’s children and grandchildren to pick up. Like some other parasitic infections, it may not be life-threatening unless you are considered vulnerable because of existing weaknesses, but you do need to take precautions and if you have containers or raised beds which have been infected, then to be safe you are better to renew the compost especially if you intend growing edible produce. Raised beds may also need their frame renewed if it has been badly infected. That’s why it is also wise to wear gloves when gardening. Toxoplasosis leaves ‘flu-like symptoms so perhaps the next time you think you have the common cold or ‘flu, it could be thanks to the cat?

                                                                 Kat crop red

Why not visit my other blog  Grannysattic


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