That is NOT your litter box!

All across the country these days, more and more folks are doing their gardening in containers. And judging from the letters in my mailbag, the vast majority of them share a common problem: cats that mistake the big pots for their own personal bathrooms. Well, here are four ways to say, “Take your potty break elsewhere!”:

Plant low-growing groundcovers around the base of your potted trees and shrubs. You’ll spiff up the container scheme and keep Fluffy out at the same time.

Saturate cotton balls in lemon-oil furniture polish, and tuck them into the pots. Cats won’t like the smell one bit! One ball will work for a small container; for larger ones, use two or three.

Cover the soil surface with aluminum foil, and spread a thin layer of mulch on top. When Fluffy leaps into the pot to do her duty, the rustling sound and strange feel will make her hop right out again.

Lay prickly branches—like ones you’ve pruned from roses, bramble fruits, or sharp-needled evergreens—on the soil. It’s like posting a “Kitties Keep Out!” sign.