How To Keep Cats Out Of Sandboxes

  • By: Bob
  • Last updated: June 11, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Jean from Kings Lynn wrote asking for advice on how to keep cats from pooping in her kids sandbox. She tells me the culprits are neighbours cats.

How to keep cats out of your sandbox

  • Keep it covered – even a tarpaulin weighted down will do for now
  • Consider replacing the sandbox with one that comes with a lid
  • Position a motion sensitive cat deterrent next to the sandbox
  • Place potted plants around the sandbox that deter cats

It is essential you stop cats from pooping in your Child’s sandbox as you are exposing them to the risk of Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease carried within a cats faeces. Toxoplasmosis is especially dangerous to pregnant women.

If you know a cat has been in your Child’s sandbox you should remove the offending poop together with the surrounding sand as soon as possible. If you are pregnant get someone else to do it.

Keep Cats Out Of Sandboxes With a Cover

Covering a sandbox not only keeps cats and other critters out of the sand it also keeps leaves and other debris from finding its way into your kids play area.

If you aren’t a DIYer and don’t fancy making your own lid you could always put a tarpaulin over it with a few bricks thrown on to weigh it down. This isn’t ideal but is definitely better than leaving it open for the cats.

If your budget will stretch to it consider a commercially made sandbox that comes complete with a lid.

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Use a Motion Detecting Cat Deterrent

Although an ultrasonic based cat deterrent can sometimes work straight out of the box, often it takes some monitoring and adjusting before you see the results you want.

This is because a cats hearing changes as it ages, just like ours. This means the frequency may need adjusting for the cat visiting your sandbox.

When you need a cat deterrent that is going to work right out of the box it has to be a motion activated water sprayer. Cats hate water so after the first activation the cat simply won’t be back until it believes it is safe to do so.

I’ve watched cats get caught by my Hoont Cobra cat repeller and I’ve never seen them again.

Positioned and set up correctly the Hoont Cobra or the budget PestBye jet spray repeller are simply the best cat deterrents when you need instant success.

If using a motion detector sprinkler is out of the question due to the location or lack of outside tap then definitely give an ultrasonic deterrent a go.

Again, we are looking for a quick solution here so I would go with the tried and tested CatWatch. There are cheaper options out there but of all the ultrasonic cat deterrents I have tested, this is the clear winner.

You can read my long term CatWatch review here. I’ve had it set up and running now for over 3 years and unlike similar products I’ve tested I have never had to move it from its original spot.

Usually after a few weeks the cats will learn to expect the ultrasonic noise so it doesn’t scare them away. This means you have to keep moving it around to keep the cats on their toes. This isn’t the case with the CatWatch.

Use Spray Deterrents

Spray deterrents can be hit and miss in the uk due to our glorious weather. After a rain shower it needs to be applied again and the potency weakens if it’s in direct sunlight or if it’s windy!

Either try these home made cat repellent recipes or try a commercial one such as the highly rated ‘Get off my Garden cat and dog repellent‘ jelly chrystals. Spray or sprinkle around the sandbox rather than in it.

Using Plants To Keep Cats Out Of Sand Boxes

If your sandbox is actually dug into your garden you might want to consider landscaping the surrounding area with plants that deter cats.

Keep in mind that your sandbox is only temporary – one day they are happily playing in the sand and the next they’re demanding a Playstation!

Because it is temporary it might be an idea to grow the plants in containers so they can be moved elsewhere once the sandbox has gone.

You are going to have to use plants in conjunction with one of the other methods listed above though. You cannot let a cat continue to use your child’s play area as a litter box while you wait for your plants to grow.

If The Culprit Is Your Own Cat

In the case of Jean it was her neighbours cat that was pooping in her sandbox. I’m aware though that some of you reading this are looking for ways to keep your own cat out of a sandbox so I’ve included this additional section.

Consider converting your cat to an indoor cat. 8 out of 10 vets now recommend keeping cats indoors and the benefits to your cat are huge.

  • A more than doubled life expectancy from 5 years to 12 years.
  • Much lower vet bills due to lowered chance of injury or illness
  • No chance of being poisoned
  • No danger from road traffic (biggest cat killer)
  • No chance of being stolen
  • Avoid the chance of contracting FID

Most people with indoor cats have their garden cat proofed to both keep their cat in and other cats out. The cat can then play in their garden safely.

If you are already in this position and your cat is using the sandbox as a litter tray when outside you will need to supervise all garden visits.

Train your cat to not use the sandbox by picking him up whenever you see him heading towards it and tell him off. It’s the same as when you trained him to use the litter box indoors but in reverse.

It won’t take long before he learns to keep away from your child’s sandbox.

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  1. Hi Bob, I live in coastal California. We have problems with bird kills and t.gondii / otter morbidity, land to sea transmission. Even though the science is perfectly clear we do not have free-roaming pet bans, and probably never will. No permits for cats either, about as short sighted and idiotic as it gets. I have a gutter fence that keeps roof cat crap from storm drains and a solar panel critter guard. I hate the inconsiderate cat owners more than the animals. I like your website.

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