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Cat Repellant on edible crops

Hi, looking for some advice. A fox dug up some of my raspberry plants and cats have been using my veg planters as litter trays, so I put some Get Off crystals on the soil around the planters and general area. However, I'm a bit worried that I shouldn't have used this near fruit and veg plants. It's mainly strawberries and also a young cherry tree, obviously no fruit yet and it's on the surrounding soil not the plants themselves, but will the fruit be toxic when it appears? I have a 9 month old baby so don't want to risk it if there's any chance it could be dangerous - bit gutted tho as everything is just starting to grow! I just assumed it would be safe and the packaging says not to put on food but does this include the plants??



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,876

    I've said it before, but I wish I had £1 for every " how do I keep cats away" thread. 

    good luck Songbird

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,310

    What does it say on the product label. Songbird?  I would assume "not on food" means just that, ie don't eat the crystals.  What is the active ingredient stated on the product?

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • It says it contains methyl nonyl ketone?


    (I should probably add that the cats are mine... Still very annoying tho! image)

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,310

    The Web has the recent American analysis of methyl nonyl ketone, which approves it as an animal and insect repellent because of its smell.  It's a naturally occuring organic oil (found in banana skin among other things).  They report tests showing it isn't toxic (unfortunately, being the US, that involves testing it on animals), though there's a slight risk of skin irritation if you don't wash your hands after applying it.  It looks as if they can find absolutely no risk that it's absorbed into plants, so my reading of it is that you'll be perfectly ok to eat the fruit & veg.

    I love cats.  image  Mine lives indoors, so it's other people's who try to dig up my veg beds!  I tend to go for methods which keep cats off the soil I'm about to plant in - I've got square raised beds, and have lots of bits of old clematis netting (the stiff plastic stuff - though any netting would do), which I lay over the beds to protect the soil and emerging seeds.  You can carefully lift it off once the seedlings are well up, or leave it on through the season if you prefer.  I guess you could probably cut some bits to fit your veg planters?

    Hope you get some raspberries this year.  My granddaughter aged 2 loved putting a raspberry on each finger, like a thimble, before she ate them... and they always taste best from your own garden!  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    EFSA report of methyl nonyl ketone


    Of note:

    application only around lawns or around plant beds; application to food crop should be avoided.

    That I would interpret as do not apply to a veg plot.

    The stuff is a toxin, reading the report there are many data gaps regarding just how toxic it really is. I would not eat anything that had been near it personally.

  • Oh pants. thanks for the report.


    if you were me would you


    a) scrape it all off and assume that it will be ok by the time the fruit appears

    or b) assume either we will have no edible crop this summer and buy new plants??


    I have around 24 strawberry plants so was hoping for a bumper crop! 

  • Ps. Liriodendron - I have made mesh covers for planters and use sticks to anchor them in but my cat can be very persistent! Especially around my beloved cherry tree... He thinks the cherry tree pot is his own personal litter box image but he is very lovable so I don't stay upset with him for very long!

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,310

    Songbird - I've been away all day, and only just got back & read the EU report linked by GemmaJF.  The report I told you about was an American one and was perhaps more positive over all.  However, I still wouldn't panic!  My reading of the EU report doesn't reveal anything too perturbing; admittedly, more research is clearly needed on the long-term effect of the chemical on fish, earthworms and soil-living organisms.  It agrees that it's a skin irritant, and that contact with food or feed crops must be avoided.  But you've applied it to the soil, not to the plants.

    I can't help thinking that the important sentence from the EU report for you is this:

    "No significant residues in plant or animal matrices were expected based on the representative use, and a quantitative consumer risk assessment is therefore not needed."

    These researchers aren't worried, though they do feel there are some gaps in the research.

    If I were you I'd scrape the stuff off the soil and dispose of it, and wash and eat your fruit and veg crops in the normal way.  image

    Re your resourceful cat:  I understand his persistence!  Can you supply him with an alternative outdoor litter box?  Even some sand in a dry spot under a shrub might work.  And perhaps you could weigh the netting down?  I use lumps of stone.  Or wire it on...  image  It's a good thing you love him!  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    Let EFSA know if you get ill Songbird. I'm sure they will welcome the missing data on mammalian toxicology as stated in the report. 

    They are not talking about direct application on food crops, 

    Of note:

    application only around lawns or around plant beds; application to food crop should be avoided.

    That means do not apply to areas of soil used to grow food. If they meant 'on the plants' they would have said 'on the plants' and not made the qualifying statement of 'application ONLY around lawns and plant beds' i.e. not areas where one grows food.


  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,310

    Sorry Gemma, I disagree:  they ARE talking about direct application on food crops.

    I quote section 8:

    "The product should not be placed where food or feed could become contaminated, i.e. only around vegetable patches and at a safe distance from the plants."

    I agree that it's worrying that such products can be marketed without sufficient research into their effects on the environment - and I wouldn't use this stuff, just as I wouldn't use any pesticides or fungicides in my garden (other than the "safe" (ha ha) slug pellets and sprays, in an enclosed area like a cold frame).    But I worry that you will be scaring Songbird quite unnecessarily by your first sentence above, and causing her to panic and uproot all her plants.  I refer again to the sentence in my reply above, beginning "No significant residues... were expected..."

    I would also take issue with your description of methyl nonyl ketone as a toxin.  Yes, its toxicity to daphnia has been established, and it may have some effect on fish and other aquatic life.  More research is needed into its effects on these and other organisms.  But to say "this stuff is a toxin" suggests "this stuff will kill you" (or at the very least, do you lasting harm).  But surely the chance that this substance might, in the time since its application and before Songbird scraped it off again, have passed into the soil and been absorbed by the roots of the strawberries and veg in Songbird's beds, and then passed into the fruit etc in a manner damaging to those who eat them, is so remote as to be beyond the bounds of possibility?

    Many substances are toxic.  Salt is a toxin.  Carrots are toxic if you eat too many of them.  Sultanas and chocolate are toxic - to dogs.  We need caution, but a sense of proportion.

    My grandfather was an enthusiastic gardener who used all the latest potions and sprays in his allotment in the 1940s to 1960s, including DDT and nicotine sprays, among other delightful things.  My grandmother died in 2004, aged 108.

    I say again:  SONGBIRD, DO NOT PANIC!!  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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