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Using Lion Dung to Deter Cats, Deer and Other Garden Pests

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

Some gardeners place lion dung around the perimeter of their property to deter cats. Learn how well it works and where to obtain it!

Some gardeners place lion dung around the perimeter of their property to deter cats. Learn how well it works and where to obtain it!

About Lion Dung Cat Repellent

Some people are not too bothered about neighborhood cats visiting their gardens. Others are only bothered when fresh seedlings have been planted or perhaps when birds are nesting in the shrubbery. Still others want to deter cats year-round.

Whichever camp you fall in, know that there's an effective non-chemical solution for the problem, and all it takes is a nearby zoo: You can use the dung from big cats, especially lions, to scare away domestic kitties.

In fact, lion dung is very popular in some quarters as a cat repellent. Homeowners obtain the dung from their local zoo and then place it in strategic locations around their garden to keep domestic cats at bay. It can be applied once a week. If lion dung is not available, then tiger or leopard feces is just as effective.

Why Does Lion Poo Deter Cats?

The science behind this method is that the scent signal given out by a much larger predatory feline is likely to warn the smaller ones away. Most animals are territorial markers, and other animals recognise these marks in the same way humans would recognise a sign that says "Warning! Keep Out! Enter at Your Own Risk!"

Does It Keep Away Other Animals?

The use of dung as a repellent is not confined to repelling domestic cats. It is also used to deter animals like the following:

  • Deer
  • Badgers
  • Otters
  • Rabbits

Does the Dung Really Work?

During my zoo career, which spans more than 50 years, I have frequently supplied lion dung to members of the public as a domestic cat deterrent. Although I have never used it myself to keep domestic cats away, I have asked people to let me know if it has worked. Those who've gotten back to me say that it has.

There is no guarantee that the poo will deter all feline interlopers. Some stubborn domestic cats won't be bothered by the scent of a lion. But lion dung as a cat repellent definitely works for some.

My Experience Using Lion and Tiger Dung to Repel Badgers

Within a zoo setting, I used the dung with great success to keep badgers (Meles meles) away from certain locations. Badgers are very capable diggers and can cause considerable damage if they're allowed to do their business unchecked. A small pile of lion or tiger dung gets them to move on somewhere else.

Dung as a Deer Repellent

One estate manager collected a sack full of dung from my zoo on a regular basis to keep deer away from plantations of young trees. He said that regular renewal was important as rain and the elements quickly reduced the poo's effectiveness.

However, there are mixed opinions on the efficacy of dung for repelling deer. The British Deer Society states that raw dung is "ineffective" as a deer deterrent, though it acknowledges that more testing is needed to determine if other forms of the dung—like liquid extracts and dried pellets (see more about those below)—work better.

Other research on dung and deer has yielded more promising results. In a 2018 study in Japan, researchers found that Sika deer avoided a gate that had been treated with lion feces in various forms, including extracts of raw and dried feces. They concluded that the presence of the lion feces deterred the movement of the deer.

The Downside: Sometimes the Deterrence Is Short-Lived

One issue with the dung is that cats and other pests will eventually get used to the scent, especially since it won't be accompanied by an actual lion. When asked about the effectiveness of lion dung for repelling rabbits, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry professor H. Brian Underwood said the following:

"Any novel substance would likely deter rabbits for a while, but not without some latent reinforcement. So unless you plan to chain the lion to your garden gate once a week for the rest of the growing season, my guess is that rabbits would eventually get past the scent.”

How Stinky Is the Dung?

Lion dung smells bad and has strong ammonia-like properties. It is not the most pleasant stuff to work with. Gloves are advisable.

Look for Modern Dung Pellets

Today, there are a number of companies that actually sell the dung in a much more hygienic pelleted form. For example, you can find nitrogen-based pellets that have been soaked in lion dung and then dried out. These may be worth seeking out to save yourself some unpleasantness.

Good Luck Keeping Cats Away From Your Garden

The next time you see some kitties using your carefully tended garden as a litterbox, perhaps it's time to bring in the big cats—or at least their poop! If you try out this repellent, please share how it worked for you in the comments.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

dewlish from Moulins, Centre, France on March 01, 2014:

Hopping this will work for wild boar, as we have a problem here in central France. fortunately there is a local zoo for us to ask for help...

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 06, 2011:

Simone Smith - Glad to have helped. Hardly the opening gambit for small talk at dinner parties...but you never know.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 05, 2011:

Wow- this is fascinating! I've learned my new-thing-of-the-day!