How to Keep Cats Away from Your Home and Garden
How can you keep your yard free of cats? You might want them to stay away so that the birds will be protected. You might want to protect your cats or other pets from strays. Or, you might simply want to keep them from using your yard as a bathroom so that you don’t come across their leavings while you are walking, mowing, or gardening. The feces from cats can contain parasites, viruses, and bacteria that can actually infect your pets as well as humans.
Cats aren’t really predictable. Because of this, there aren’t too many sure-fire repellents for them. Domestic cats tend to wander and roam due to establishing their territory, feeding, hunting, mating, or just due to curiosity. Homeless strays and feral cats might just be looking for a safe place that they can call their home. That being said, there are a few approaches that have been known to keep feline hunters from using your lawn and garden as their litter box.
You can discourage cats from pussyfooting around your yard or digging up your garden beds with a few products and tactics.
Preventative planting by using chicken wire. Put a layer of chicken wire down right on top of the mulch or soil in your garden before you plant it. Cats don’t like to walk on chicken wire. You can open pockets in the wire using a pair of wire cutters that will be large enough to accommodate your plants.
Bristly material. If you have already planted your garden, you can always prevent the cats from it by mulching it with pine cones that have sharp edges. You might also use things like stone mulch, egg shells, or even holly cuttings. When it comes to defecating, cats prefer to dig their latrines in dirt that is loose. For other areas in your yard, you can use plastic carpet runner nub side up to keep the cats from lounging and/or perching.
Some plants emit odors that are not cat-friendly. One example is the Coleus canina, or the scaredy cat plant.
This is also effective when you have an issue with landscaping because of dogs. Some of the other non-cat friendly plants include pennyroyal, lavender (which is also resistant to deer), and rue. You might consider planting these in between any other plants you have.
Electric fences can also be used. This will work for both rabbits and cats.
Water guns are also a way to keep cats away, and this can be fun. When you spot a cat in an area where you don’t want him, you can just squirt them with a water gun. This might reinforce the idea that they aren’t wanted in those areas.
Water devices also work well. Try the Scarecrow sprinkler that detects the presence of intruders and fires water at them.
Ultrasound devices such as the one called Cat Stop work on a high frequency that isn’t audible to us, but cats find it unbearable. They are also easy to install. You just place it so that it faces the area where you don’t want the cats. Motion sensors detect the presence of the cat and will give off a high-frequency noise that will drive the cat away.
Repellent and sound devices like the Sssscat! Device uses both sound and a repellent that is sprayed. It is activated by motion. You might also make your own device that makes noise by putting pebbles or marbles into an empty can that will be upset when cats walk along your fence. You might also use wind chimes or a sensitive bell that will make noise when there is a vibration.
Commercial cat repellents such as the Shake Away powder work by having the scent of urine from an animal that cats are afraid of, like a bobcat, fox, or coyote. This repellent comes in a granular form, and you just sprinkle it around the area where the cats go. Products such as this are advertised as organic products, which means that they are ok for use around pets and kids. Also, they won’t harm your plants.
Smelly stuff such as citrus or dried blood like that found in the type of fertilizer known as blood meal are things that cats aren’t fond of. You might use the rinds of grapefruit, limes, lemons, and oranges in your garden. Mothballs have been used for this too. You might also use flakes of cayenne pepper but be careful with this if you have pets because they can get into it too.
If you have watched the show “Mythbusters”, you will know that things like clear bottles of water and the feces of lions won’t work, so don’t waste your time with these.
Be sure that you change your tactics on a regular basis. New cats in the neighborhood may not be just as sensitive to the methods you normally use, so switching them up with regularity might give you success.
Have a Cat-Friendly Area
You might want to compromise with the four-legged critters. You can do this by planting an area of catnip plants that are away from the area you want to be cat free. All cats don’t go crazy for catnip, but the ones who do might come to think of your catnip plants as their own little peace of heaven and make it their new place to hang out. This will allow you to keep your garden cat free.
You might also create a sandbox just for the cats and keep it close to the catnip plants. The chances are good that this will provide an area for the cats to defecate. Yes, you will need to clean it up regularly, but you will know where it is instead of stepping on it or finding it in your garden.
Another way to keep cats from wandering in your yard is to keep your garden, yard, and property clean. Try not to feed any pets you have outside because the smell of their food can attract other animals. Keep your barbecue grill clean so that it doesn’t smell like food. Make sure that your trash cans have tightly fitted lids and are always closed.
If you notice that there are sprays of urine on your doors and/or walls, wash them off with an odor neutralizer that is enzyme based in order to prevent them from spraying again. This is how felines make sure that other felines know this is their territory.
Clear away any clutter and/or brush that might be a haven for mice and other types of smaller prey that cats tend to pursue. Feral felines and the prey they go after can take up residence in any place where you give them access. Make sure any holes are boarded up that can give them access to under porches or decks, or in garages and/or sheds.
Keep your bird feeders safe with feeder baffles. Just put them where the birds that come to get food won’t be in any danger from the cats.
Preventing Cat Visits
Your yard and garden might be attractive to pets who have owners that let them wander around outside, strays who used to have homes, and cats that are feral. In addition to the cleaning and repellent methods, here are a few more tactics.
Talk to the neighbors. Work in conjunction with the neighbors to keep their pets from coming into your yard or hunting the birds you are trying to protect. You might suggest that they wear a bell or bright collars that will allow the birds to know of their presence and get away. Tell the neighbors that you would prefer if their cats remained out of your yard. If the entire neighborhood works in tandem to reduce the visits from feral cats, the issue will lessen.
Get in touch with the local authorities. Check to see if there are regulations or laws in place or restrictions put in place by the homeowner’s association. You might ask what you can legally do to prevent cats from coming into your yard. Learn about the measures that you are allowed to take.
Traps that are humane. If all other tactics don’t work, check to see whether you are allowed to set out humane traps to capture feral or wayward cats. If you find out that the cat in question has tags, it will provide you with a chance to talk about the issue with the owner of the animal. Turn any strays over to a shelter or animal control.
Support groups or programs for feral and stray cats. Check for any sort of trap-neuter-release programs or any sort of programs that care for cats that are feral. There might be community programs that will care for or feed the feral cats. Support the local cat shelters so that they will be able to care for even more of the strays.
How to Stop Cats from Thinking that My Territory is Theirs
You will need to observe the cats in order to find out just why they are coming into your yard.
Are they on the lookout for water or food? If the cats in question are eating from your trash cans, you will need to remove this as a source of their food. You need to have trash cans that have tightly fitting lids in order to keep the cats from tearing into them. If they are drinking your pet’s water or eating their food, you will need to take the dishes inside as soon as your pet is done with them.
Do they just use your yard as their litter box? As mentioned above, one of the absolute best ways to keep the cats away is to cover the tops of your vegetable or flower gardens with chicken wire. The cats don’t like walking on it and will stay away from it. When you need access to those particular beds, like when you need to add mulch, wait until the late fall when most of the plants have already been killed by the frost. Once you have added the mulch or done whatever you needed to do, you can just put the chicken wire back on the top of the bed to keep the cats away from it. You might also use mulch of the small stone type. Cats don’t like needing to dig through hard substances or rocks, so they will find other locations in which to dig.
Get a plastic predator. Rubber snakes and plastic barn owls work well. You will need to move them about once a week so that the cats won’t realize that they aren’t real.
What Worked for Me
I noticed that cats tended to show up at my yard right around sunrise, so I set all of my sprinklers to come on at that time and it truly helped when it came to keeping them away. Since then, I have bought scarecrow sprinklers, and these even keep the deer out of your yard.
I also had good success with one of the heavy-duty water guns. All I do is sit quietly in my yard and hit any cat that comes by with a blast of water. Water seems to work better than anything else when it comes to cats. Once you soak the animal down a few times, it won’t come back. I set one of the scarecrow sprinklers up right by my driveway and I rarely get cat prints on my vehicles any more.
It can also be helpful to think like a cat in order to find out why they are coming onto your property. If you have a pond that attracts them, you can install a scarecrow sprinkler or a sound device that is motion activated there. Food is probably the largest reason for felines and other critters coming into your yard. You might want to try keeping any sources of food out of the yard and keeping your trash cans covered tightly, and the cat issue should resolve itself.
In closing, just be consistent. Don’t forget and leave food out sometimes and then stress out when the cats find it and come to eat. Don’t give them any sort of mixed messages. Understand that cats aren’t just some dumb animal. They are smart and will learn when they are welcome and when they aren’t.
- WikiHow, How to Keep Cats Out of a Garden
- Gardening Know How, Cat Repellent: How to Keep Cats Out of the Yard
- Organic Articles, 6 Ways to Keep Stray Cats Away from the Garden & Flower Beds
- Neighborhood Cats, Peace with the Neighbors is a Sprinkler Away