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My Pet World: What’s a humane solution to discourage cats, but is safe around dogs?

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a nine-month-old and a six-year-old Havanese. Stray cats use my ornamental grass and lawn as their litter box, which happened when the first dog was a pup. While it stopped the first time (I guess the cats figured out the puppy wasn't going anywhere), it's started again since getting the nine-month-old puppy. My new puppy eats and rolls around in their waste. What plants or (strategies) will keep stray cats away, but are safe for dogs?

— Debra Hicksville, New York

Dear Debra,

The humane way to keep cats out of your yard is to install motion-detector sprinklers. When you’re in the yard with your dogs simply turn them off.

As for plants, you could plant marigolds, lavender, rosemary, rue, curry plants, lemon grass, and pepper plants or because cats hate citrus smells, you could put grapefruit and orange peels in your flower beds. But strong scents tend to repel both dogs and cats, so I would stick to the motion detector sprinklers.


And, when your new puppy decides to roll around in the cat poop, call him to you, say his reward word (i.e. Bingo) for responding, and give him a treat. Then redirect him with a toy or game.

Since you say the cats did this temporarily when your six-year-old dog was a puppy, perhaps they will stop again when they realize the new dog is not leaving either.

Dear Cathy,

I had the same problem as Carol from Connecticut regarding barking dogs. I spoke to my neighbor, and there was no difference. I went to animal control, and within a week or two, they had spoken to my neighbor about the problem. She may have a lazy Animal Control Department or officer who doesn't want to do their job.


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