So your neighbor’s cat has made a permanent toilet under the new trees in your front yard. Felix is grateful you provided shade for him, but you and your your trees aren’t so tickled by his tendencies. In some cases, cat pee can be devastating to a tree.
What Urine Does
Cat urine's not only notoriously smelly, it’s actually destructive to the health of your tree. Cat urine is very acidic, so it can burn your tree’s roots, killing the tree if Felix goes potty there frequently and if the tree's young enough. The more urine that builds up in the soil, the greater the possibility of root damage. Conversely, the older the tree, the more urine it will take to do damage.
Trees in Planters
Trees in planters, wooden boxes or other type of container are more susceptible to damage from cat pee than trees in the ground. When Felix does his business in the soil surrounding your potted tree, the urine and its elements won't leach away nearly as quickly. It builds up over time, making the soil heavily concentrated with cat waste. In this situation, your tree might not have a chance to survive if you don't replace the soil or move the tree to a permanent spot in the ground.
Trees in the Ground
Trees buried in the ground aren’t as likely to have too much damage from cat pee. Water from rain, and watering the tree with a hose, dilutes and rinses away some of the urine. If Felix continues to make a toilet out of the soil under your tree, make sure you rinse the area often. Otherwise, the urine can quickly build up and damage your tree’s roots.
What You Can Do
If your cat peeing at the bases of your trees trees, one thing to consider is getting him neutered if he isn’t already. Male kitties are more likely to spray to mark their territory if they’re intact. But the neighborhood tomcat is destroying your yard, you’ll have to figure out a method to repel him. Place pebbles or decorative rocks around the base of your tree. Since Felix won’t be able to dig, he probably won’t want to do his business in that spot. If he still marks his turf, pick up a bottle of cat repellent designed for outdoor use. These products come in granules that you can sprinkle on the dirt surrounding the tree. Cat repellents aren’t toxic to felines and won’t kill your tree. They don’t even smell bad to you, only to cats. Felix won’t want to go anywhere near the area coated with a repellent. Another option is to fence off a small tree. This will keep the cat away from the base of a newly planted tree, whose disturbed soil attracts him.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.