Yes the earth is sodden, I thought I'd probably have to use a tray will give your suggestion of digging over a go when the weather improves. We're not big gardeners so have neglected this in the past! Thanks for your post x
Have you had a lot of rain the last while - and is the actual earth wet and soggy? They're not fond of digging in that, especially if it has a firm-ish 'rain crust'. If so, digging the beds over will help (good for the beds as well) and things ought to improve when spring and summer come.
In the interim, I'd put a tray back (sorry) to help the situation.
We have 2 x 13 yr old moggies (siblings), lovely friendly cats but never had great toilet habits. We rescued them at 3yrs old and, as they'd lived in a flat previously, were used to always using a litter tray. Fine, they used that but the boy started weeing in the house which we put down to the stress of lots of other neighbours cats around and used Feliway which helped. We moved house 4 yrs ago which i know can be stressful for them, but continued with feliway and the move meant they now had a garden (small yard previously) and less neighbouring cats around. The boy improved and after weeing only a couple of times in the new house, completely stopped and hasn't done so in last 3yrs. When DS was born in 2010 we thought we'd try and get rid of the litter tray and encourage them to go outside by putting it outside by the door in summer then finally taking it away. It worked and they now go outside but in the last 6 months have taken to pooing on the lawn and path with no effort to digging or trying to hide it. We have 3 DC's under 3 now and its just not on having a garden full of cat poo, I've tried paprika and pepper spray but neither have worked and its attracting other cats now who are joining in Any other suggestions (hoping not to go back to litter trays due to the children)??? Thanks