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Lifestyle // The Wild Side
Dr. John Kaya

Secret To Keep Fouling Cats Away

Fifteen years ago, as I was enjoying a cup of coffee and studying for a veterinary school exam, my wife suggested we rescue a cat from a shelter. One week later, as we were signing the pet adoption papers, I struggled to remember our conversation, but, oh well. What followed was six weeks of red, puffy eyes and rapid-fire sneezing fits. Eventually my allergies abated and I officially became a cat lover. Twelve years later I found my admiration for the feline species tested.

Returning home from work one day I was stopped in my tracks by a very familiar odor: cat poop. At first, the fetid morsel eluded detection. Minutes later, the hunt continued as I methodically widened the search radius. Twenty feet away, nestled in an area where only sparse patches of grass grew, was the offending log. Relatively fresh, it glistened in the afternoon sun.

Wasting no time, I rushed to get a plastic bag so that I could dispose of the still-warm pile. As I looked around, I found no signs of the guilty party. My assumption was that the poop belonged to one of the neighborhood strays that occasionally roam the streets. Hopefully it was a one-time incident.

Several days passed and again the putrid odor of a freshly-laid stool had me searching like a child at an Easter egg hunt. This time the treasure lay 30 feet away.

The saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy, three times a fool …” or something like that. I set out on a mission to prevent the desecration of our home. It wasn’t just the smell, mind you, but the risk of disease that had me bothered. Animal feces not only possess bacteria but also protozoans and parasitic worms, all of which can be transmitted to humans. Over the next several months I explored a variety of remedies that supposedly helped others eliminate the elimination problem.

First I tried placing glass jars filled with water in the area where the culprit enjoyed doing his/her business. Then, when that didn’t work, I purchased an aerosolized can of cat and dog repellent, which ended up being a $7.99 lesson in marketing 101.

The following week, I rushed to the grocery store and bought several large containers of black pepper. Theory was that spreading pepper in the area of concern would deter the act of defecation. Seriously … nothing worked.

After months of failure, a client suggested spreading coffee grounds in the area where the stray cats pooped. At that point I was willing to try anything. Soon I had multiple piles of coffee grounds all over my yard. Funny thing is, it actually worked. I later found out that coffee grounds can be used for composting and was actually good for plants in your yard.

Admittedly, if the coffee grounds did not work, I was about to do something drastic. Yes, I was thinking of feeding the rascally critters yummy food. You see, animals tend not to poop where they eat. Instead, I found an organic alternative that helped our plants grow and supported my coffee addiction.

Dr. John Kaya is the director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital.