I am planning on using small rocks in a section of garden and I want to pick the smallest size/shape that will keep cats from using it as a toilet.

At first I was considering sand, but that seems to be an invitation for cats to use as a litter box area

I have a neighbor with 2 inch (5cm) river rock in his garden area and cats don't bother it at all. But is is kind of a pain to work with and around.

I want to pick the smallest size that will prevent neighborhood cats from using it as a toilet. I am guessing someplace between sand and 2 inch (5cm) river rock should work.

Pea Gravel is readily available and easy to work with, but will it be large enough to keep cats from using it? if not what is the smallest effect deterrent? Does the shape (round vs crushed) impact the decision?

  • If the pea gravel doesn't work out, here are some more ideas: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/125/…
    – Cucamonga
    Jun 1 '17 at 14:19
  • I have seen cats use regular size gravel, such as in a gravel driveway. I suspect it depends on how near something preferable is located when they need to go. If your pea gravel is the best option, they will use it.
    – MsTapp
    Jan 3 '18 at 18:56

I want to pick the smallest size/shape that will keep cats from using it as a toilet.

We can't give you a precise measurement. This is highly dependent on the cat. Some cats are easily deterred, others not so much.

A much better approach here would be what I refer to as the "lightning rod principle". In short, lightning strikes lightning rods (instead of other nearby things) because it's the path of least (electrical) resistance.

Similarly, cats will do their business in the best available nearby option. The trick isn't to find gravel that is unsuitable for cats, but rather to provide something better than the gravel so the cats will favor that instead of the gravel.

As a very simple solution, you could have a small sand pit nearby which the cats are allowed to use. They won't bother with the clumsy gravel if there's a nice sandy spot closeby.

Similarly, when your cat keeps scratching the same spot on the couch, put a scratching post next to that spot. You'll see that they will redirect themselves to the scratching post (if it is indeed better). Over time, you can move the scratching post towards where you want it to be. But be aware that if you put it too far away from the couch, it may stop acting like a lightning rod because it's too far away.

I can't really go into more detail than this, as it heavily relies on your cat, your layout, and what you find acceptable that the cat uses as a litterbox. This requires much more information than your question currently contains.

  • 1
    While I appreciate your answer, it does not work for me for a couple reason. 1 - I don't have a cat, some neighbors have cats. 2 - The nearby sandy spot, would need to be very large or cleaned regularly to be effective. Kind of counter to the idea of discouraging cats in the first place. Nov 29 '18 at 13:13
  • @JamesJenkins: Then it will be trial and error. You say your neighbor's large gravel has no cat issues. But how small are you willing to risk making your gravel? If you want to avoid rebuying at all costs, I suggest sticking to what you know and picking the same size gravel. If you want to minimize the gravel size, it will be trial and error (and may lead to buying different gravel).
    – Flater
    Nov 29 '18 at 13:34

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