Love or hate them, cats can be a pain in the neck to any garden owner. But how to get rid of cats is not always a simple fix. They are cunning, naturally curious creatures for one thing. Having recently moved house to quite a “catty” neighborhood, I should know!
For every harmless old moggy, there’s the rascal that will poop in your veg patch or creep up on your bird feeders. So what are the options when it comes to ways to stop cats doing these things? Is it even realistic to keep them out of your garden in the first place?
We’ll take a look at some common, cost-effective deterrents in just a minute. First, though, it’s worth asking a couple of simple questions.
Who Owns the Cat or Cats? Can They Help?
Ok, so it sounds obvious, but do you know who owns the animal? Have you had a chat with them? Even if you hate cats, be friendly and polite. Perhaps they could set up an area in their garden, for example, for the cat to do its business? If the animals are strays, your local authorities might be a better bet.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
Regardless of your feelings on cats, get to the heart of the issue. Like it or not, cats will roam. This alone is no cause for alarm. It’s leaving a mess, scratching property, or killing birds that are a problem. Protecting every square inch of your garden is probably unrealistic. Instead, pinpoint sensitive areas and exactly what you want to achieve!
Once you’ve identified the exact issue, it’s time to consider what options could work.
Simple Cat Deterrents
Scents and Smells Cats Don’t Like
Cats have an incredibly acute sense of smell. Hence one cheap solution to keep cats away from problem areas is to lay down a scent. Some swear by orange peel or citrus smells. Others have found pungent spices such as lavender (available as a bottled solution from Harbor’s) or cinnamon effective. Even more novel is the use of lion dung pellets (yes, really!), that suggests a much bigger rival is on the scene!
The best way to disperse a scent over a wide area is via a spray bottle or dispenser. Or make the job quick and easy with a quality pump. The Chapin 2000 Spray Dispenser (above) is ideal for the job at just $12.69 currently, with over 1000 positive user ratings. (or for UK gardeners Spear and Jackson do an excellent one at under £7). Be warned though, just as some cats go wild for catnip and others couldn’t care less, a lot depends on the individual cat or cats.
Are You Sitting Uncomfortably?
Keeping cats off the vegetable patch is a common pain in the you-know-what for gardeners. One point here, however, is that cats always pick a comfy spot to make a mess. Why not make things more awkward?
Some gardeners even put down things like cocktail sticks or other small spikes to stop cats from finding a nice open spot to foul! Make it a pain in the backside they’ll go elsewhere.
Rabbit or poultry wire is handy for several uses here. You could use it to surround a veg patch or block an access point, for example. At less than $10 for 25 feet of galvanized poultry wire, it’s not too expensive either.
TOP TIP: If you do discover cat poop in your garden, get rid of it immediately! Cats will quickly register the smell and the longer you leave it, the more chance it’ll happen again.
Say “Get Lost” with Water!
Of all the things cats hate, water is among the best to use. Nothing sends a cat packing quicker than H2O. But is also safe and won’t land you in any trouble, making it my personal first choice! Felines learn by habit, so it will usually only take one or two wet encounters to send a clear message.
A lot of garden owners swear by motion sensor sprinklers these days. Just as it sounds, these will switch on when a cat or other animal approaches. This makes them easy to set up in sensitive areas. They are a great way to protect plants from cats- and of course, the water won’t do your green friends any harm either!
The Havahart Motion Activated Animal Repellent Sprinkler is a great option here for cats at under $40 (above). For UK readers, The PestBye Motion Activated Cat Scarer and Repellent is great value and rates very highly.
TOP TIP: Water can also be used in a targeted fashion to keep cats away from areas like bird tables. A water pistol is ideal; Do it a few times and they will learn to avoid these areas. Do also remember that no matter how much you might not like cats, you must NEVER use a catapult, stones, or anything that could cause lasting harm and land you in legal trouble!
Make Some Noise
Also motion detected and even better value than a water sprayer is a sonic pest deterrent. These can be bought for under $40 these days and prove effective more often than not.
The MCAIOX Ultrasonic Repeller (above) is a decent option to try at just $29.99 here. It’s solar-powered, for one thing, making it low maintenance (for UK shoppers the Pestbye Ultrasonic Cat Repeller is one of the most popular and affordable models).
All these devices work by emitting a shrill noise which tends to be barely audible to humans, but unbearable to various animals. Cats have especially sensitive ears! Another bonus is that these devices can also be used to deter rats and other pests. That said, one disadvantage is that they can also scare more desirable animals, such as birds.
Further Proofing Measures… and Last Resorts!
With the best will in the world, it’s hard to completely stop cats from getting in any garden. But there are other measures you could take that will help. In a relatively small, enclosed garden or yard, for example, you could install additional deterrent wiring to the top of walls or fences at a steep angle. Yes, it’s a hassle, but it might just save you a headache. But otherwise, you might just have to focus on more achievable deterrents.
For many homeowners, how to stop cats catching birds is another endless battle. You can minimize threats, however, by taking great care when installing feeders and nesting boxes. Bird tables and feeders should be placed well in the open, far from ambush points. The same rules apply to nest boxes, which are often better off high up on walls, rather than in trees.
TOP TIP: For the worst killer kitties, some owners also add a collar with a bell. Ok, so unless you’re the owner this may not be your call. But it saves a lot of birds and is the solution the nature organizations recommend!
These items are very inexpensive too: A pack of 6 bright, bell collars from TC BOYING is just $6.99, for example, and these include a safety release! For UK customers, the YH Mall set of six cat collars costs under £7.
I hope we’ve given you some useful ideas in this short article. It’s fair to say that no one method is 100% foolproof. But by finding the perfect option for your aims or combining two or more measures, success is possible! Again, the best policy is to prioritize the areas you want to protect the most – and always try to keep a friendly dialogue with neighbors! Good luck.