Feline Mad! How to Keep Your Yard Cat Free

Most of us would agree that cats are wonderful pets but, to some, the trespassing of cats is a nuisance, the source of many complaints and the cause of much neighbourhood disharmony.

When a cat uses your prized vegetable patch as a latrine, walks with muddy feet over your newly washed car or when a roaming moggie regularly visits your yard to fight with your own cat, understandably you must be 'feline' mad.

Try the following methods to persuade cats to leave but, no matter how much you detest cats or any other pesky animal, inhumane, cruel or harmful methods of control are not to be used.

A Wee Cleaning Job

The most common complaint against roaming cats is the smell they leave behind. If a cat has urinated or sprayed around your home, the smell can be removed by washing the area with a warm solution of an enzymatic laundry detergent such as Bio Zet. Alternatively the animal odour eliminators Bac to Nature, Urine Free and Urine Off are specifically designed for this purpose.

Household Smells that Repel

There are various smelly household products that many folk claim will repel cats. In my experience, none are routinely effective but try scattering naphthalene flakes, camphor balls or moth balls around the garden. Cayenne pepper and paprika are also claimed to be effective. Citronella, ammonia, eucalyptus oil or Dettol mixed with biodegradable cat litter and scattered around the garden is useful. A similar effect can be had by soaking a tea bag or two or even some cotton balls in the same solutions and leaving the tea bags or cotton balls scattered around your garden.

Commercial Repellants

If you don't want to make your own smelly repellant, there are many commercial products that are designed to do the job. 'Get Off My Garden' is a non-toxic and environmetally friendly pet deterrant that can be used in and around the home.

Devious Dastardly Devices

On the electro-mechanical scene, there are various devices you can arm yourself with to make cats feel unwelcome.

Ultrasonic sounds will scare about 60 - 70% of cats. Both hand-held and remote (using a motion sensor) ultrasonic devices emit a short pulse of ultrasonic sound to scare the cat away. While it is very loud, the sound is not audible to humans. However, with hand-held devices, you need to be close to the cat to scare it.

Another device is called the SSSCAT. This implement incorporates a pressure pack can of harmless air and a motion-activated sensor. The device emits a warning sound when an animal moves in front it, and then a harmless jet of air is released to scare the cat away.

Water Idea

Cats hate water. Hosing a cat will often scare it away but will cause no harm and, if your allowable sprinkler times permit, leaving a sprinkler running when the cat is most likely to visit.

Scented water bomb balloons are also useful. Place a few drops of perfume or lemon juice inside each of a few water bomb balloons and then fill them with water. Leave them in a handy spot and when you see a cat in your yard, toss one at the cat. It won't hurt it if you hit it but even if you don't, the water that is released will scare the cat away, and it will link the aversion of the water with the scent of the perfume. Now place the same perfume onto cotton balls, in old tea bags or mixed with tea leaves or cat litter and scatter that around the garden beds. When the marauding moggie next visits, it will recall its unpleasant experience last time it detected this scent and will thus stay clear.

Litter Scatter

Cats are very territorial. The odour of another cat's waste will often keep a visiting cat away. If you have a cat that uses a litter tray and you want to keep other cats from your yard, try mixing the soiled litter with a quantity of water and splashing that mixture around the perimeter of your garden. You won't be able to detect the scent but visiting cats will. It will not affect your own cat and in fact is likely to make if feel more secure in its yard, but other cats are likely to be repelled. Be aware that some very territorial cats could also be attracted by this smell in an attempt to find out who is invading their perceived territory.

Driving Cats Off Motor Vehicles

Cats often sleep on the warm bonnet of a car and other cats seem to enjoy using the windscreen as a slippery slide, especially if they have muddy feet! To keep them off your car, try any of the repellant scents mentioned above but secure them with blue tack or glue to the inside of the cap of a small bottle, such as a tablet container or fruit juice bottle. When you park, place the cap onto the car bonnet or roof. Before you drive off, place the caps on their containers to keep the cotton wool from drying out and re-use them next time.

Mouse Trap Mayhem

Mouse traps can also be a useful deterrent to cats visiting vegetable patches. Set a trap and then place it upside down in the veggie patch. Cover it with a sheet of newspaper to ensure the cat won't be harmed. When the unsuspecting puss-cat visits next time, the trap will explode into activity and the cat will have kittens!

To make this device even more effective, inflate a water bomb balloon with air, (not water), include a drop or two of perfume before inflating it. Now use a drawing pin (through the knotted end) to secure the balloon to the edge of the mouse trap so that the arm of the mouse trap will burst the balloon when activated. No self respecting cat will stick around with this type of armoury.

Trapping Cats

The trapping of cats is a controversial issue. There are humane traps readily available for hire but how can you be sure the cat you trap is not owned? The potential legal implications of trapping an owned cat can be a trap in their own right so it is best to leave trapping to those who are qualified.

Neighbour Favours

Have you spoken to the owner of the cat? It is likely the cat owner doesn't know his or her cat is a problem unless you tell him or her. My experience is that a polite letter gets far more response than a poison-pen, threatening letter. There are many options to cure the roaming of cats including nighttime curfews and sensible confinement strategies.

By Dr Cam Day BVSc - Last updated 16 November 2012

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