It is common knowledge that manure, or animal faeces, can be beneficial to gardening or crops. Pet owners may wonder if their pets' faeces could yield the same results if spread in the garden or composted before use. Although cat faeces is not detrimental to the soil itself, the faeces can be hazardous to human health. Additionally, cat faeces does not provide the benefits to your garden that commercial cow manure does.
Bacteria and Parasites
Cat faeces can potentially contain bacteria, as well as parasites such as roundworms or Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) which causes toxoplasmosis. These can cause health issues within people and can be particularly dangerous to those with immune system deficiencies or pregnant women. Roundworms can cause fever, bronchitis, issues with vision or asthma. Toxoplasmosis can cause headaches, sore throats and muscle aches. Pregnant women who contract toxoplasmosis can pass on serious health issues to their children including hearing loss, vision loss, mental retardation and in severe cases, death.
Once the faeces are in the garden, the bacteria and parasites within the faeces can begin spreading into the soil. Cats bury their faeces, so the faeces may go unnoticed. Gardeners who note unusual mounds or digging in their garden should suspect faeces and use rubber gloves to prevent contamination. Transmission is possible by touching the mouth after handling the soil or flowers grown in the soil, or by eating unwashed fruits or vegetables from the contaminated garden.
It is not uncommon for people to assume they can add their pets' faeces to a compost pile, assuming that cat faeces are simply another form of fertilising manure. Unfortunately, this is not true. For sterilisation to occur, your compost heap would have to reach 73.9 degrees Celsius for five days, a situation which is extremely unlikely.
There is no sure fire method for preventing a cat from eliminating in a garden. However, cats prefer finer-grained soils. Therefore, placing a layer of mulch, bark or medium to small rocks may help deter the cat from using the garden as its personal litter box. Many commercially-available deterrents might also help. Furthermore, do not add cat faeces to your compost pile.