Sophia Yin, DVM, MS March 11, 2009
The neighborhood feline has made our yard his personal litter box. We have to remove kitty poop almost every day and have unsuccessfully tried spraying the affected areas with a mixture of water and bleach to deter the fellow. Do you have any suggestions ?
H. Wong of Contra Costa
Whether it's neighborhood dogs leaving landmines for your walking pleasure or cats graffittiing your house with their pungent yellow perfume, other people's pets-and their owners who fail to manage them responsibly-can be annoying.
Often it starts as a minor irritation—an occasional cleanup in your rose garden or a mild disruption at night. But when it happens over and over, it's time to take action. First you try the sprinklers, but after using your yearly allotment of water on day one, you opt for plan B-pet safe repellent. Unfortunately, they either don't repel or they need to be replaced more frequently than the batteries on an 4th grader's Game Boy. Not to mention the fact that the culprit always finds the one repellent-less spot for his despicable deposit.
For the average homeowner these failures say wave the white flag, but for the persistent proprietor, it's time for the ultimate animal-safe weapon—the scarecrow, a motion detecting, water emitting, device designed to outwit even the wiliest trouble-making trespassers. Here's how it might work.
It's the dead of night and a sleek cat named Sylvester heads to “the little boy's room”- a lush patch of dirt between the tomatoes and zucchinis, in your backyard. He strides over with the confidence of Shaq heading down the center for a slam dunk and then “SHHPOP! chooka, chooka.” A wet surprise sends the startled Sylvester packing for home.
Sounds too good, but it's true. This sneaky sprinkler can detect both large animals such as giant breed dogs as well as smaller animals such as cats and chickens up to 35 feet away and within a 100 degree arc. The sudden sound coordinated with the quick burst of water is enough to deter even water-loving animals such as dogs and geese and larger animals such as deer.
Says Dr. Carol Popolow, a veterinarian from Croton-On-Hudson, NY who uses it primarily to keep deer away, “I can tell almost exactly how far the water sprays (or the scarecrow detects) from the height of the plants. My friend also uses it and her Hostas (a favorite deer snack) are lush and beautiful within the scarecrow area and eaten to the nubs in the area around it.”
The scarecrow also sprays Popolow's cat who prefers to avoid the sprinkler-protected area. And I can personally attest that the device works wonderfully for keeping the average dog or chicken out of restricted areas.
As an added bonus, the scarecrow is easy to install, even for the mechanically impaired. Just add a 9 volt battery, attach it to a garden hose, and push its supporting stake into the ground. The only down sides are that it doesn't work in winter if the temperatures get below freezing -ok, not a problem for most Californians- and the battery does need to be replaced every few months.
Nixalite's electronic scarecrow sprinkler $69.00 plus tax
© 2009 Sophia Yin, DVM. Originally printed in the San Francisco Chronicle.