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Hints from Heloise: Keeping cats out of the dirt

Dear Heloise: Can you help me find a way to keep stray cats out of my mother's flowerpots? They are ruining her flowers. — Patricia McGhehey, Rockwall, Texas

Patricia, cats do love to dig, but here are several things for you to try:

Put lots of pine cones in the dirt; cats don't like feeling them, you can water right through them, and they won't hurt the flowers.

Place net or wire over the dirt of the plant, so the cats can't get to it.

Throw citrus peels (or sprinkle lemon juice) around the base of the plant; the cats don't like the smell.

Hopefully one of these will work.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: I have two vegetable beds with soft, friable dirt that look like potty boxes to my cats. To keep them from pooping in the beds, I put lots of inexpensive dowels in the dirt until it looks bristly and uninviting to a cat. — Tanya, via e-mail

Dear Readers: Claire Esposito of Middletown, Ohio, sent a photo of her cat BeeBee "helping" with the sewing by being wrapped in the fabric. Claire says: "We rescued a 5-week-old kitten we found abandoned on our lawn and named him BeeBee, which originally stood for 'Beautiful Baby.' As he aged, he became Beautiful Boy, then Big Boy and occasionally Bad Boy when he bites my ankles as I walk by! He is more like a dog than a cat."

To see BeeBee, the sewing helper, visit

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: Back in the Victorian era, women put their hairbrush hair in small, covered containers called hair receivers. The hair was used for a variety of things: to make hair jewelry, as pincushion stuffing or to put inside lockets.

I have found a wonderful, modern idea for using tufts of hair from the hairbrush. I go outside with the hairbrush, rake a comb through it and let the hair go into the wind. Birds use the hair for their nests — they love it. Once in a while, after a storm, I will find a small nest. It brings a smile to my face every time! — Ellen in Indiana

Dear Heloise: Whenever I bathe my dog, after he is all lathered up I add a generous amount of baking soda to his body, along with a little more water, and wash as normal. I don't scrub hard because the baking soda can be abrasive on his skin. It makes a huge difference in the way he smells, and to me he seems to get a cleaner coat than without it. He is a white poodle and likes to roll in the dirt. — C.M., Kerrville, Texas

Baking soda is an odor neutralizer and is safe to use around pets. When wet, it should not be too abrasive, so it's perfect for a bath.

— Heloise

© King Features Syndicate Inc.