If you have you ever wondered if used kitty litter can help in your fight against a mouse problem? The answer is yes, possibly. But there are a few caveats to its usefulness.
The evidence that kitty litter is helpful to repel mice is primarily anecdotal.
There are no published studies to show it is 100% effective. Most of the studies in this area are performed with full-strength cat urine.
However, a few homeowners have reported that it does indeed work.
This article outlines how to perform your own experiment to see if kitty litter does a good job of repelling mice. And we’ll also discuss some issues and studies that can impact this method’s effectiveness.
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How Effective is Cat Urine as a Mouse Repellent?
Research does show that mice fear the scent of cat urine. This is common in the predator-prey relationship of many mammals.
If a prey animal (the mouse) smells a predator in the area (the cat), they will be less likely to build their nest in the same area. It is a matter of survival.
So, predatory urine definitely helps to keep prey animals like mice at bay.
But, since most of us don’t have an easy way to collect urine directly from our cat (and really, who wants to!). Using kitty litter is the next best option.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Getting Rid of Mice with Kitty Litter
Here is the thing to know about the kitty litter trick for getting rid of mice. The perceived risk, or fear response triggered by the cat’s odor, needs to be stronger than the possible reward.
For example, if you put out a huge tray of cookies next to a container of cat urine (or soiled litter), the mouse will still go for the cookies. The reward is too great.
So, before trying this method, make sure the area is clean and clear of any items that may be enticing the mice to enter your home.
With that in mind, here are the basic instructions for deterring mice with litter:
1. Buy kitty litter and put it in your cat’s litter box as usual. The kitty litter should be unscented and ideally biodegradable.
2. Wait for your cat to use the litter box.
3. Once your cat has thoroughly soiled the litter, it should be ready to use as a pest deterrent. The stronger the scent, the better this will work.
4. Transfer the most soiled parts of the litter to a plastic tub you will be using for this purpose.
5. Moisten it with a bit of water to activate the scent.
6. Put the tub of litter wherever the mice have been congregating. Or use it at an entry point to prevent reinfestation.
7. With any luck, all you have to do now is wait. If you are fortunate, the mice will leave the area.
8. Dispose of the litter as you usually do once you can confirm the problem is over.
There are some ways you can modify this plan if you need to. For example, rather than putting all the litter in one big plastic tub, you could prepare several smaller buckets and place those around the problem area of your home.
Always keep the used litter in containers. While sprinkling the litter directly in the affected area can be tempting to increase the scent, this is never recommended.
The soiled litter can spread bacteria and germs, which is not hygienic or safe to do around people or other animals.
Common Problems When Using Kitter Litter As Pest Control
There are a few studies and problems that could impact whether using kitty litter in your own home to repel mice will be effective.
Is it True That Some Kitty Litter Brands Can Attract Mice?
Yes! Some brands of litter will attract mice instead of repelling them. This is one way using kitty litter to get rid of mice can backfire.
If mice are eating the litter, take a look at the ingredients. Are you using a natural litter made out of paper, wheat, pine, corn, or similar substances? Those are all tasty to rodents and will do more harm than good.
To avoid this problem, you can try using clay litter.
Also, note that mice are a lot less likely to try to eat the litter once it is soiled which is why we mix it up. So, once your cat urinates on it, you should be able to use it as a deterrent without any issues.
Two Studies That Show Cat Urine Being Less Effective in Pest Prevention
1. If exposed very early in their development, the mice may not develop a strong fear response.
The Society of Experimental Biology performed a study to test the ability of cat urine to repel mice. They found a few surprising results.
“Researchers found that when very young mice were exposed to a chemical in cat urine, they were less likely to avoid the scent of cats later in life.”Society for Experimental Biology
The reason for this behavior was that the test mice were fed milk during the experiment, so they received positive reinforcement when exposed to the smell.
So, hypothetically, if you are dealing with mice that have grown up in your home and are used to the smell of your cat and its urine, they may be less sensitive to it and might not be so easily deterred
2. Repeated Exposure to Cat Urine Can Cause Aggressive Behavior in Mice
The Journal of Ethnology published a study in May 2008 to test whether cat urine would be an effective rodent deterrent.
As the article explains, “Unexpectedly, two months of cat odor did not lead to cowering mice. ”
Instead, the study discovered that the repeated exposure to a cat’s urine made the males more aggressive.
They fought with other mice in the enclosure two times more often than when exposed to the control substance of rabbit urine.
And another surprising finding of the study was that the female found this more aggressive behavior very attractive.
So, ironically, under some conditions, it seems using cat litter could just make your mice more aggressive—and more attracted to one another! You could then end up with rapidly breeding mice, which would make your problem way worse.
However, keep in mind in this experiment the mice were forced to come in repeated contact with the urine. They didn’t have the opportunity to run away, which is our goal with the kitty litter method of getting rid of mice.
Ready To Give It A Try?
Some people swear by using soiled kitty litter as a deterrent for mice. Others may find that it is less effective, especially if your property is particularly tempting to the neighborhood mice.
Consider giving it a try. If you have soiled litter handy, you don’t have much to lose by running an experiment.
And when in doubt, follow the tried and true methods for getting rid of mice, such as using traps or calling the exterminator.