Is Atherton Home’s dirty cat litter strong enough to repel rats and mice?

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DEAR JOHANNA: I’ve found a creative way to get rid of rooftop rats caught in an opening in a screen in my little attic.

I didn’t want to complain to the landlords and let them hire pest controllers or spread poison. I have two very cute house cats. I solved the rat problem by storing used, fragrance-free, biodegradable lump cat litter in a plastic bag. When I had enough to fill a plastic tub, I added a little water to keep it moist and put the tub in the little attic.

Within three days, the little rat’s feet rattled over my head and I was able to replace the broken screen. Removing the undisturbed tub and disposing of the litter required little effort.

I once saw the effects of rat poisoning from community cats when a local company hired a company to remove poison. I will never forget the terrible scene. Rodent snap traps are more humane if you can’t handle catching and moving them.

Please remind people not to use poison. It’s cruel beyond imagination.

TVL, Atherton

LOVE TVL: There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of the use of soiled cat litter as a deterrent for mice and rats. Apparently it can work just fine, but there are some important considerations.

First, the bedding needs to be used pretty well and have the strong smell of cat urine. The smell of the urine scares the rodents off. On the other hand, you shouldn’t have it too strong or the smell will discourage you too.

Most people who have used the litter scatter it in the garden or in front of openings for the rodents to enter the house, or place them in pots around the yard and house.

Littering is frowned upon because you may spread some pretty strong germs and bacteria that could make other animals or yourself sick. Keeping it in check like you did is the better idea.

Just keep in mind that soiled bedding can contain some nasty things and should be used with caution.

Driving rodents out of the house and mending entry holes is a much better endeavor than trapping, and the use of poisons should never be considered as they kill very cruelly and often kill other animals such as owls, hawks, cats and dogs.

Just a reminder, if you capture an animal on your property, you cannot take it elsewhere to be released. It’s against the law.

DEAR JOHANNA: One possible explanation for the disappearance of slugs that you recently wrote about in a column is rodents.

I have had a field mouse and rat family in my garden for a number of years. Behind my flower bank I discovered a rodent den that was littered with snail shells.

The backyard snail population is zero. The garden was overrun by snails from the rodents.

In my backyard there is a peaceful coexistence between humans and rodents as long as they stay outside.

Matt, Bay Area

LOVE MATT: I should have thought of that. Raccoons, possums, lizards, and snakes like snail sashimi. I applaud you for the harmony in your garden. That’s how I see things too. As long as they stay on the other side of my door we’re cool.

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