A backyard sandbox can be a wonderful hub for childhood play, but it loses appeal once neighborhood cats claim it as a litter box. If you want to keep your sandbox a safe place for your kids to play, you will need to cover the sandbox, employ repellents, or take other measures.
The Appeal of the Sandbox
A sandbox is essentially nothing more than giant litter box, in the eyes of a cat. Cats instinctively bury their feces to hide it from predators, so the sandbox provides an ideal location for feline bathroom activity. Cats who have been litter-box trained may simply believe they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
Cover the Box
The simplest method for keeping cats from leaving waste in your children's sandbox is to keep the sandbox covered so cats cannot get into it. Purchase a cover for your sandbox that fits snugly, or secure a tarp over it. You'll have to ensure that whatever type of cover you use prohibits cats from entering any time the sandbox is not in use.
Place cat repellent products in and around your sandbox. Sprays and powders are offensive to the feline sense of smell, so cats stay away. Ensure the specific product you choose is nontoxic and safe for children. Follow all the instructions on the package to apply the product properly.
A natural option is to put fresh orange peels, whose scent is repugnant to cats, in the sandbox. Naturally or chemically, you'll have to repeatedly apply the deterrent to achieve long-term results.
One potential long-term solution is an ultrasonic cat repellent device. Such devices emit a high-frequency noise that is supposed to be undetectable by the human ear but unpleasant to the feline ear.
If the cats leaving waste in a sandbox on your property do not belong to you, then you have a valid complaint. If the loose animals belong to neighbors, speak to them or to a civic authority. Outdoor cats are prone to developing diseases and picking up parasites. If they are relieving themselves in your sandbox, your children are being exposed to whatever illnesses they may be carrying. If the cats are strays or feral, ask your local animal control department to assist you in removing the animals. Unvaccinated stray cats and feral cats pose a real health hazard for humans and pets.