Outdoor cats, whether they’re stray cats or your neighbors’ wandering felines, can cause many problems for you and your property. Perhaps the unwelcome visitors have decided to dig up some valued landscaping or use your birdfeeder as a dinner buffet. Maybe they’re upsetting your indoor cat, who watches them at windows. Outdoor cats might even be risking their lives by coming within range of your dog or sitting under your car. And if your dog or your car ends up injuring a neighbor’s cat who has wandered into your yard, you could face the difficult task of restoring good relations with your neighbor. There are several valid reasons for wanting cats to stay out of your yard. The good news is that you can use effective, humane strategies to help them find somewhere else to explore.
Making Your Yard Unappealing to Visiting Cats
The easiest way to deal with wandering cats is to make your yard unappealing to them. Because most cats dislike getting wet, you can try using a motion-activated lawn sprinkler, such as the ScareCrow®, to discourage them from coming into your yard or getting too close to your house. When an outdoor cat comes within range of the motion sensor, he’s hit with a burst of water that’s just strong enough to scare him off. Sometimes this approach will succeed in permanently driving off the unwelcome cat within just a few days. Be sure to place the sprinkler either in the part of your yard the intruding cat prefers or in the area you want to protect. If you’d rather not permanently install motion-activated sprinklers, you can set them up so that you can remove them after you’re sure the problem is solved. You can always reinstall them if the cat returns or if a new cat appears on the scene.
Some motion-activated devices, such as the CatStop® automatic outdoor cat deterrent or the Critter Gitter®, use ultrasonic sound as a deterrent instead of water. These devices emit a high-frequency sound that cats hate but people can’t hear. Just like the motion-activated sprinklers, they’re triggered by movement. Ultrasonic devices don’t have the same startling effect as a spurt of water, but the unpleasant sound they make convinces many cats to go elsewhere.
Another option is to find ways to make the ground in your yard unattractive to cats. Many cats love to use a nice flower bed as a toilet. Simply removing this enticement could help drive off feline intruders. If you’re starting a garden, try placing chicken wire at ground level or just under the surface of the soil. You can cut holes in the wire to allow your plants to grow. The surface of the ground will be uncomfortable for cats to walk on and make it impossible for them to dig in the dirt, which is necessary for using the planted bed as a bathroom. You can also place certain plastics just under the surface of the dirt to frustrate cats who try to dig in your garden. Another alternative is to use natural objects to discourage cats from walking through your planted areas. Prickly pinecones can do the trick, and if you’re not fond of these as a permanent feature of your garden, you can simply remove them after you’ve successfully repelled visiting cats. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it’s not so sharp that it causes injury.
Sharing Your Yard with Feline Visitors
If you don’t mind having cats in your yard but can’t stand them digging in your favorite plants, consider creating an outdoor litter box. The trick is to make the litter box more appealing than your planted beds. An easy way to do this is to provide an outdoor sandbox that’s at least as large as a normal litter box. Fill it with fine-grained sand, which has a texture most cats find irresistible. You should soon find them flocking to their comfortably large and pleasant outdoor litter box. Make sure you scoop it regularly so that the cats don’t wander back to your garden or flower bed because of an unappealing mess in the box. Cats are clean creatures!