If you’ve been having problems with the neighbor’s cats scaring the birds away or stray cats hanging around in unwanted places, consider these cruelty free tips for how to keep cats out of your yard.
Cats make wonderful companions — they’re low maintenance, great at keeping rodent populations under control, and most often just looking to curl up on your lap. However, uninvited cats can be another story.
Even if you’re a big fan of felines, you probably don’t want them making a mess in your yard or digging around in your garden bed. You definitely don’t want them spraying around your property, marking their territory.
How to keep cats out of your yard
1. Scents They Can’t Stand
Cats have an exceptionally strong sense of smell. With around 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses (humans have only 5 million for comparison) it’s no wonder a smell they find offensive can send them packing.
All natural scents in the form of sprays or even plants are a safe, easy way to deter cats from coming into your property. This method won’t harm stray cats or your pets, but will make the area you wish to be cat-free less appealing to roaming felines.
Some of the scents that cats have an aversion to include:
Citrus such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemon
- Scaredy-cat plant (Coleus Canina)
To make use of these smells, try mixing essential oils with water in a spray bottle and applying it around the areas you don’t want cats hanging around. Another method is to soak cotton balls in essential oils and place them around your yard.
One important key to remember when it comes to these options is that rain and other natural elements wash away these smells over time, so reapplication is necessary.
If you’re a gardener, introducing live plants such as the scaredy-cat plant, rosemary, and other pungent herbs around your yard is another useful method for naturally repelling cats all season long.
2. Irritating Materials
Once a cat finds a place it likes to dig, such as loose garden soil, getting them to leave can be a bit tricky — especially since they’re so territorial.
Making areas like your garden and other tempting spots unattractive to cats in the first place is a great preventative way to keep them out and to keep you and your vegetables happy.
One way of achieving this is by placing chicken wire, or a scat mat over garden beds and other places you don’t want cats digging. They hate walking over these materials and will avoid the areas where it’s installed. Spread out the wire or mat over the planting area and cut out holes where you plan on putting plants.
A cost-effective, DIY variation of this tip involves putting similarly irritating materials like pine cones, crushed eggshells, and stone mulch over the soil in your garden. You can even try combining these two options by first rolling out the mat or wire and then spreading pine cones or other rough substances on top.
3. Motion Activated Sprinklers
It’s no secret that cats and water don’t mix. Motion activated sprinklers use this knowledge to their advantage by spraying a surprising stream of water at trespassing cats.
Some models, like this one from Orbit, have infrared sensors that detect when an animal has passed by. Once triggered, the resulting surge of water scares away not only cats, but other unwanted pests such as squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits.
This hands-off device works 24/7, and makes it easy to keep an eye on your yard while you’re at work, running errands, or on vacation.
However, since these devices are hooked up to a hose, they can’t be used in the winter when temperatures start to freeze. For best results, set them up in the spring so that cats learn to avoid your yard before it gets too cold. Once they get sprayed a few times, stray cats will soon realize to keep away.
4. Ultrasonic Devices
A cat’s sense of hearing is extremely strong — much like their sense of smell. Using an ultrasonic device works similarly to using scents that cats find aggravating. By sending out high-pitched frequencies that cats can’t stand, these devices are effective in driving away unwelcome guests.
They work just like motion activated sprinklers by using sensors over a specific area. Then, once movement is detected, they emit ultrasonic frequencies that humans can’t hear, but cats and other pests are very sensitive to.
The key to using these devices is to make sure you place them strategically. Since they only cover a certain ground area, it’s important to make sure to put them in spots their sensors can reach. Entry points to your yard and property are other smart areas to install them.
For an energy-saving, solar powered option, check out this device from Wikomo. It’s also compatible with batteries and usb charging for versatile function.
5. Cat-Proof Fencing
One of the reasons it’s hard to keep cats out of your yard is because of their ability to scale fences and other structures with ease. Even if you have a fenced in backyard, cats have no problem climbing up and finding their way in.
However, you may have better luck with cat-proof fencing options. These are essentially add-ons to your fence that create a barrier at the top —preventing cats from climbing and jumping over. Though many of these structures are designed to keep pet cats inside the yard, they can be oriented in the opposite direction to keep stray cats out.
Preventative maintenance is key
To prevent cats from coming onto your property, you might want to consider what’s attracting them in the first place. Food left in the yard or in unsecured garbage cans is one of the first things to check when cleaning up. Be sure to eliminate clutter lying around that cats could hide in too.
Talking to your neighbors about the problems their cats are causing is another smart option. Keeping pet cats indoors is not only beneficial for the environment, but for their kitty as well.
If you’re willing to compromise, sharing a part of your yard with the local cats is an alternative option. Planting catnip in a specific area of your yard gives them a place they can go to, and draws them away from the places you want them out of.
Hopefully these tips will help keep cats out of your yard. If all else fails, calling your local animal control is always an option. They may be able to give you helpful information about feral and stray cats in your area such as community programs and local regulations and laws to reduce their numbers.