Friday, August 20, 2010

Put A Cork In It

evil pussyDon’t get me wrong I like cats. I prefer dogs but I like cats. We had one all through my early childhood (a half feral moggy called Smokey) and another one through my teens (a fat black and white strop of a cat called Felix). I loved them to bits. Even when they clawed me.

(Which reminds me of that famous book: The Cat’s Revenge by Claude Balls.)

But I cannot abide the neighbourhood cats where I now live.

Not because they stalk the bird feeders that the wife and I keep constantly replenished at great cost to the weekly budget. Not because their territorial wars often wake me at night with the resultant caterwauling.

But because they shit on my lawn.

Actually on the lawn.

For some reason this strikes me as odd. Even a little bizarre. Because in my experience of cats – owning 2, cat-sitting for other people on occasion, etc – is that when they need the bathroom for a number 2 they tend to dig a hole and bury it. Nice clean animals, cats. They hide it all away. This is the belief system I have carried around with me since childhood.

Even my sister’s cats – both housebound because of living on an upper story – used to dig little holes in the cat litter tray. It is natural and instinctive behaviour for a cat. When they start pulling up the gravel with a forepaw you just know a cat turd is on its way.

So why are the neighbourhood cats spurning this evolutionary imperative and dropping their revolting little logs all over my lawn?

It’s not just an aesthetic problem, you see. My little boy loves playing out in the garden. As soon as the door is open he’s off, dressed or not, more often than not barefoot, trotting his merry way all over the lawn.

Barefoot. As is his right in his own back garden. Barefoot with little pellets of evil lying in wait in the grass.

Animal poo and little kiddies do not mix. There’s a story in the paper today of a little girl who may be blinded because she fell into some dog poo in a child’s play area. It’s heartbreaking.

It also makes me angry.

Now I know it’s a slightly different scenario – dogs have to cleaned up after by their owners and the same rule does not and cannot be applied to felines. The owner of the dog is responsible for the girl’s injury but the owner’s of the various cats in my street can’t really be held responsible for their cats pooing on my grass. Even though I’d quite happily kneecap the lot of them in a kangaroo court.

The question is: what can I do about it?

Some have suggested a sprinkling of curry powder or pepper spray onto the areas that the cats frequent. Fine but I don’t want a half naked little boy – or even a fully clothed one – rolling about in it either. So that’s no go.

The only other solution I can think of involves a cork, a shotgun and me pulling the trigger to fill Macavity’s muck cavity...

But is that, strictly speaking, legal?


45 comments:

Being Me said...

Wow, you have a label for "curry". I'm impressed!

Hate to burst your bubble but... our cat is gross like this as well (I was like you: thought they buried it in neat little parcels of land about the place). Mind you, our cat also burps and farts like a footy player, sooo she could just be uncouth/abnormal.

I have no idea the solution. I'm liking the cork idea (I really am not so keen on cats - now we have one again, I remember why)

The Dotterel said...

I'd go for the airgun... a lot more sporting. And a lot less messier.

Steve said...

Being Me: doesn't everyone have a blog label for curry?! Hmm. Sounds like my idea of cats is a little old fashioned or was just never accurate in the first place! Burps and farts like a footie player, eh? How is she with the offside rule?

TheDotterel: given the consistency of some of the turds I sometimes wonder if an "Uzi" might not be more apt...!

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

We have exactly the same problem in our garden. We also have one brazen cat who walks round the perimeter of our garden numerous times a day, spraying whatever it sprays against the shrubs as it walks along. He must spend more time at our place than he does at his own.

Steve said...

Trish: urgh. There's nothing worse than a big tom spraying its love pheremones all over the place... the poo, in comparison, is almost preferable (at least I can shovel that up).

the fly in the web said...

Get a terrier.
Then you'll have a dog, your little boy will have a friend and the cats will stick to the fence, hissing impotently.

joebloggs said...

Cats are not put off by curry, in fact they quite like it. Our little fur-ball would eat a madras no problem even a had a go at a phal once...The next morning we discovered how "brinjhal Pickle" was made ! He's dead now though. Not altogether natural circumstances either!

I recommend the buying of a dog...but then that has its own even larger woes, and then you end up with an, "old woman who swallowed a fly" scenario.

No just shoot the cat!

Have you ever read "The Ukrainian Lion Tamer" by Claudis Bholokhov. It brought a tear to my eye.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I do prefer dogs so that would suit me though I don't think I could go for a terrier. Not big enough you see, not proper dog size. A collie I could go for... but at the moment we can't afford neither the vets bills nor the additional energy required to walk such an animal.

Joe: a curry loving cat? He must have been one of the 2 out of 10 cats who didn't prefer Whiskas. As for the old woman who swallowed a fly scenario... maybe I ought to just circumvent the whole shenanigans and just let the kids shit on the lawn as well? As for the Russian novelist - any relation to the writer of "Testicular Cancer: My Story"; Ivor Bollokov?

Rol said...

It's evolution, alright. Just like humans, cats are evolving into lazy bastards.

Steve said...

Rol: they'll be claiming disabilty benefit next whilst secretly mauling all the pigeons on next door's roof...

Suzanne said...

How sad am I - I have just looked this up as a google search, there are some seriously funny answers there mainly American talking about cats "pooping".
Two that have been suggested are lavender, and citrus peelings (cats don't like the smell), maybe worth a try if you know anyone who grows lavender.

Steve said...

Suzanne: thank you! That's brilliant! Eco friendly and child friendly solutions at last! :-)

Selina Kingston said...

How unpleasant! I, like you, thought cats were naturally clean animals. Blame it on the neighbours - they're probably lazy and dirty too !

Steve said...

Selina: as long as they don't start shitting on my lawn as well they can be as lazy and as dirty as they like...!

Kelloggsville said...

My mum had a similar issue with a cat crapping on her drive. They went through all the lion poo, citrus peeling, curry powder games but in the end they stopped it with an electric device that emits a high pitched tone that they won't come near. I have no idea if that would affet your kids too ala the mosquito teenage stoppers or whether they are higher tone than that but it is worth investigating. We thought one of our cats was doing it on our lawn until I caught a dog from a garden over the back sneaking in and doing it. Fixed fence, problemo solved!

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: I like the idea of using lion's poo as a disincentive just because it would be so cool to get some... but I can hardly complain about my kids stepping in cat poo if I then layer the garden waist deep in Simba's droppings! The electrical device is interesting... but I think I'd favour another. A tazer...

Anonymous said...

I once had a cat called Korky, I know that's not much help but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

LöstJimmy said...

There's more than one way to skin a cat as they say

the fly in the web said...

Get two terriers and train one to stand on the back of the other to give an illusion of being a big dog.
They would be company for each other, too...and you still have all the other advantages.

MOTHER OF MANY said...

http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?TabID=1&criteria=usb&ModuleNo=223218&C=SO&U=Strat15

I have a portable one i keep in my bag for crazy dogs and the noisy dogs next door

Steve said...

Anonymous: Korky by name and corky by nature perchance?

LöstJimmy: my old geography teacher had a saying: there's more than one way to kill a cat than by choking it with cream. I'm trying to look him up in the phone book...

The fly in the web: but wouldn't that result in double the dog poo and double the vet's bills? Or do they do a BOGOF deal?

Ally: when I first followed the link I thought it was a bazooka. You shouldn't get my hopes up like that.

libby said...

Gosh I feel guilty now...we have two cats, that I love, but wish we didn't have, and they never seem to poo on our lawn....unless they are burying it in the borders, so they must be leaving a deposit at someone else's place...how am I to know where though??
Go for the Lavender option...that sounds the best...

Keith said...

Cats are EVIL. End of.

Orange peel worked for me in the end. And I was dealing with a Jedi moggie who had mastered the art of levitation. To this day we cannot work out how she managed to poo where she did.

But you have to place it where the cat has soiled, as it is the smell they leave behind that brings them back to the same place.

Steve said...

Libby: if he's been visiting my garden and I apologize in advance for the curry burns.

Steve said...

Keith: thanks for the tip - citrus peel it is... although Emma Peel would have been better to look at!

Miss behaving said...

You can try this, here's what folks do here and it must work because EVERYONE does it.
Bottles of water!! Seriously, everyone puts PET bottles filled with water in the area they are protecting, you see it all over so there must be something to it.

Steve said...

Miss Behaving: is this some kind of weird Japanese cat bidet that you're telling me about...?! ;-)

the fly in the web said...

Just don't get pedigree dogs...

Clippy Mat said...

LOL
You could try the water bottle thing, I've heard that works. Or just put several cat litter trays out. They're using your yard as a toilet anyway so you might as well accommodate them.
No?
I hope you let us know what finally works.
I loved some of the suggestions given here.
;-)

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I've always favoured mongrels, I must admit...

Clippy Mat: I've been amazed by the wealth of knowledge that is out there in blog-land. It's like having access to my own database. Shame all I ask it about is poo.

English Rider said...

No one mentioned the parallels between your work and home life. You must be a Poo-Magnet. I'm sure the pet store has a spray of some kind to deter cats. I always ask the pros.

Gina said...

If you get rid of the bird table the cats will probably go elsewhere!

I loathe the bird table our neighbours have because it encourages the pigeons to poo everywhere. Well, not now cos our cat sits under their bird table and frightens the horrid things away. But when we were between cats our lawn was littered with huge pigeon poos. Urgh!

I did buy some crystals to keep our cat off the vegetable patches and they did work. The crystals didn't last long but she obviously remembered how horrid they were and hasn't been near the patch since. They were VERY pungent. I tried peel and that didn't really work - decomposes too quickly in the British wet weather.

Steve said...

English Rider: a poo magnet. Thanks for that. I shall get my passport updated immediately.

Gina: but we like the birds! We have a woodpecker and lots of robins who come and visit us! And lots of tits. Hey, English Rider was right: there are lots of parallels with my home and work life!

Gappy said...

Me too!!! My back garden is like the communal latrine for all the neighbourhood cats. Drives me batshit. If you get any decent tips as a result of this post, do me a favour and mail them to me. I will be eternally grateful.

Gappy

French Fancy said...

oh it's good to be back here and I really do understand your feelings. One good thing about being back in the UK is the fact that the Brits clean up after their dogs - but do they? There am I - on the local playing fields with my poopscoop bags in my hand dutifully cleaning up my dogs' deposits. But i'm the only one doing so and there is so much poo around that I am getting very cross.

When I went round bearing gifts from Brittany for our new neighbours and to apologise in advance for having dogs that would bark from time to time, the lady said that the previous people had cats and she would much rather have dogs next door than cats - which did to her lawn just what these ones do to yours.

Good luck with finding a solution

Steve said...

Gappy: it seems that the best recommendations so far are citrus peelings and bottles of water. I shall experiment with both and see what works!

FF: nice to have you back. I must say I think the Great British public have started to become rather remiss in their pooper-scooping duties... here in Leamo there is an increasing amount of dog dirt mounting on the pavements. There needs to be more of a national outcry, I think!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Are you sure it's cat poo? Just a thought! I don't see our cat for days on end then she suddenly wants to claw me to death on the bed while I'm watching my favourite program. I do love her though. I have to admit (looking round to make sure she isn't in the vicinity) that I am more a dog person myself. And you can't mistake dog poo, that's for sure. Especially when you put your hand in it. Right I'm going now.

CJ xx

Steve said...

CJ: I must admit the wife and I do sometime wonder if we have a visit from a fox... but we can't deny the sheer volume of cat traffic that passes through our backgarden; the odds are the droppings are from a cat.

Curry Queen said...

Hello - I've only just discovered your blog and read the cat post with interest. Apparently its something that dominant cats do to mark their territory (maybe someone else has already told you that, but I haven't got time to read all the comments - sorry!) You could try buying a few Rue plants - cats hate it - but it can cause skin reactions, so might not be safe with a toddler. You could also try pepper or chilli powder but there is the toddler issue again. A safer option would be motion activated sprinkler - that would see them off!

Heather said...

Mine burries them in the sand pit - think yourself lucky you don't have to dig through an entire sandpit before you can let you kids out to play. At least on the lawn they are in full view!

Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

Our dog used to poo on everyone's lawn but ours, but he's been dead for years so he's not to blame. I'm sure you can get stuff at petshops called 'Gerroffofmoiland' or something like that. It's male cats that do it more apparently so why not package it up and return to sender? Are you sure it's not foxes though?

Steve said...

Curry Queen: I like the sprinkler idea - dual benefits in that it will keep our lawn nice and green too (as opposed to being dotted with little brown turds).

Heather: ah - a deviation on the ol' sandpit submarine game: the hunt for brown October...!

Previously (Very) Lost in France: there's a product called "Gerroffofmoiland"? How marvellous! I'm hoping it's a big ruddy faced farmer with a shotgun... does he accept cash or an equal weight in turnips?

The Sagittarian said...

haha, "motion activated" sprinkler..I like that!
Actually, I'm not sure what The Stud uses to keep our cats off the garden...a few well chosen words seem to do the trick. My mum uses a water pistol....

Tony said...

I read the blog and understand your problem, but my question is what exactly is a footy player?

Steve said...

Amanda: a water pistol!? Now why didn't I think of that before! That sounds like fun and a great way to keep the kids entertained...

Tony: a footy player is someone who plays football / soccer.