How to Keep a Cat Out of Kids' Sandbox

Updated on September 02, 2009
K.B. asks from Atlanta, GA
14 answers

We built a 10' X 20' sandbox last summer that my boys and the neighborhood kids love. Recently, it has been discovered by a cat and has been used 3x, that I can tell, as a litter box. Not sanitary obviously, but it is big enough (approx 1 ton of sand) that if I sift out the poop and shovel the sand around, I think the kids should be OK IF the cat doesn't use it again (right?). But how to stop it? It may be a neighbor cat wandering several hundred feet, or a feral cat, as we live on the foothills where, according to my neighbor, there is occasional dumping. I love cats, and despite having serious allergies and needing daily asthma meds I kept one for 16 years until she died, but I can't have a cat pooping in my child's playground. Suggestions? Shall I just cover w/ visqueen each day until the offender moves on?

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A.E.

answers from Denver on

Absolutely keep the box covered to keep out cats and other critters. There is a parasite named Toxocara Canis (roundworm), which can invade the eye causing Ocular Toxocariasis. This can lead to blindness and is not that uncommon in kids in the US.

More Answers

B.W.

answers from Pocatello on

First you need to clean it with bleach, and a lot of it. Toxoplasmosis has no cure. Then you can try moth balls, or just use a tarp or wood to cover it. As long as the cats are getting into it your kids should not be aloud in it, it is dangerous. Also try to keep it wet, cats don't use wet ground. Most the time. Good Luck.

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D.M.

answers from Denver on

I have used chicken wire in my yard where I didn't want cats to relieve themselves. Just lay it flat on the ground. They leave if they can't scratch around.

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A.W.

answers from Denver on

The only thing that really works is covering it when not in use for
a long time. We tried everything and nothing worked for more than
a couple days except for the cover. Good luck.

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K.W.

answers from Denver on

Get a lifelike cat statue (or two) to put next to the sandbox. Cats are territorial and if they see another cat, they typically move on. I would still suggest covering it at night or if you aren't going to use it for awhile. Good luck!

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M.H.

answers from Denver on

I don't think there is any stopping the cat - I would cover the box. Personally I would cover it regarless. Who knows what can get in there?

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A.G.

answers from Salt Lake City on

We had the same problem.....We went to Home Depot and got a big piece of that outdoor green carpet to cover the sandbox. It's not too heavy that the kids just can't roll it up and then unroll it back over the sandbox when they are done playing. The neighbor's cat hasn't bothered us since. Best thing we ever did!

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A.E.

answers from Denver on

Absolutely keep the box covered to keep out cats and other critters. There is a parasite named Toxocara Canis (roundworm), which can invade the eye causing Ocular Toxocariasis. This can lead to blindness and is not that uncommon in kids in the US.

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S.L.

answers from Boise on

There's a powder you can shake on and mix into the sand that repels animals. It has like garlic and dried blood in it. Sounds gross, but I don't think it's noticeable to humans.

It's kinda pricey, depending on the size of your sandbox. We were considering buying some, but our sandbox is HUGE and we can't afford it.

I can't say that I've ever heard of anyone getting toxoplasmosis from playing in a sandbox. I DO know people who got it from eating their garden produce without washing it with bleach....IN BRAZIL. It's not really a big problem in the U.S. They only recommend that pregnant women use rubber gloves when changing litter boxes. Of course, depending on your kids' usual behavior, you will know if they put the sand in their mouth or lick their fingers a lot while they're outside. If they do, I think they're more likely to get ringworm or some other illness from the sand than toxoplasmosis. I'm no expert, though. Maybe you could look it on on the CDC's web site.

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D.W.

answers from Boise on

I hear vinegar works. Just mix it into the sand. I don't know how much or how often???

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F.N.

answers from Denver on

You will have to keep it covered to keep the cats out.
We had a cover made for ours from a boat cover company- it is great, the draw string makes it quick and easy to put on and off.
You can also use the red wood lattice same concept as the chicken wire but might me easier to handle.
If you use a actual cover put something (beach ball, an old plant stand) in the center so the water can run off the cover instead of pooling up.

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M.L.

answers from Colorado Springs on

The only thing I can think of is building some type of cover - even some screening with a frame around it - that you can easily put over the sandbox any time it's not being played in. It might not be too hard to make if it's done in pieces and attached together when needed.

I'm told there are some sprays that leave an odor cats don't care for - but for such a big area that might be pricey, especially if you have to do it frequently. (I don't know if they work for every cat, either. Once I tried cayenne pepper to keep one of my cats away from a certain area. All that happened is that the kitty discovered he liked cayenne pepper.)

The offender could be any cat observing the sandbox in your yard, now or in the future. The cat is thinking, "Boys? What boys? What playground? If my Creator didn't put the sandbox out here for MY use, it wouldn't be here at all!" That's the way they think, I'm sure!

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C.W.

answers from Provo on

The only thing you can do is keep the sand box covered at all times-except, ofcourse, when the children are in it. This is a highly infectious problem because humans can get tomoplasmosis from cat feces. My son and his friend got very sick once from playing in a sand box a cat had used.You will have to monitor the covering of the sand box very closely because cats are sneaky. Also, cats are trained to use sand boxes, so they think this is what your sand box is for!

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A.C.

answers from Colorado Springs on

We had a sandbox out back growing up & the neighborhood cats loved it too. Our's was dug into the ground. Mom & Dad got some plywood to cover it with each night. Just cover it, maybe they'll move on, or maybe you'll be covering it from now on.

J.H.

answers from Denver on

My neighbors cat kept coming on my back porch and getting into my garbage or my garden. ANNOYING...
So, I looked up on Ehow.com some ideas. They worked for me. Scatter orange peels around the area that you don't want the cat to come into. Make a mixture of water and orange essential oil and spray the area you don't want them in, in addition try to catch the offender in the act and spray them with the solution. It is non-toxic, but will discourage them from wanting to come near.

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