If you're concerned about neighborhood kitties or your own feline friend trampling your plants and digging in your garden, take steps to keep cats away from your foliage. While the noxious odor of mothballs may repel cats from your garden, they are highly toxic to felines, young children and wildlife if ingested.
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Just Say No to Mothballs
Mothballs are typically made of toxins like naphthalene or paradi-chlorobenzene, both of which produce fumes that kill moths and their larvae. Unfortunately, these fumes are also very unpleasant and toxic to people and pets. While some websites may recommend sprinkling mothballs throughout your garden to repel cats, the toxic fumes that they produce will likely repel people from your garden as well. Worse yet, if a curious cat, undeterred by the odor, eats a mothball, it can experience vomiting, diarrhea, kidney damage, tremors, seizures or even death, warns the Pet Poison Helpline. Mothballs are also potentially deadly to children who ingest them, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.
Instead of using toxic mothballs to repel cats from your garden, fence the area to keep them out. You can also sprinkle orange peels, tea leaves or coffee grounds around your plants, which smell unpleasant to cats, to keep them away without hurting them. Another alternative is to install a motion-activated sprinkler to harmlessly scare cats away with a simple squirt of water, recommends the Alley Cat Allies website.
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: Questions on Cats
- Pet Poison Helpline: Mothballs
- National Pesticide Information Center: Mothballs -- Regulation, Proper Uses and Alternatives
- Alley Cat Allies: How to Live With Cats in Your Neighborhood
- National Pesticide Information Center: Health Effects of Mothballs