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How To Deter Cats From Your Garden or Yard

Updated on March 23, 2016
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Enda is an avid gardener and also a builder who loves creative landscaping. He loves to share his tips with those who enjoy their gardening

Find Out How To Repel Stray Cats and Keep Them Away

Whether it is a feral cat, a stray cat or an alley cat they can all leave a horrid smell in your garden, patio or yard. This article is about deterring cats from coming near your outdoor areas, and then ensuring that they stay far away. Please note this is not about being cruel to any animal, but simply making sure that your home and property is "cat free."

I have read about people shooting at feral cats, turning hoses on them and a variety of other senseless measures. There really is no need to go to extremes to achieve what you need to do. Much as I do understand the stench that can come from cats spraying, urinating and yes leaving a huge poop, there are more humane ways of addressing that problem.

Let's have a look at those methods and actually find out which works and why. Once you get to understand these, then you will see that a solution is at hand.

Image Credit: Pixabay

What Type of Cat Is Entering Your Property? - Why Do They Torture You?

How to Get Cats to Stop Pooping in Your Yard?

Let's start with why cats will enter your property and then we can have a quick look at the different types of cat. When you know both of these, then you will be well prepared to get rid of our feline friends.

An Outdoor Litter Box

Essentially they are using your garden as their outdoor toilet, or in their world a large litter box. if you have watched any wildlife programs on TV, then you will know that all cats will as a matter of instinctive habit, want to mark their territory. They will spay as a warning to other cats to stay out. It is a pungent smell and on really hot days, can truly stink. It smells very similar to a strong ammonia, and as you are probably aware, this is far from pleasant to the nose.

In addition to that, they view soil as a litter box, and somewhere they can do their business and then cover it up. Again this is an instinctive behaviour, and just an everyday routine for animals of this breed.

Types of Cats

Feral Cats

These are cats which are essentially cats that were once domesticated and have now returned to the wild and to return to their basic instincts. So in other words they were brought into a home, probably trained to use a litter, and then have preferred to be outside hunting and living there. Typically these cats will then have litters of kittens which are then classed as wild cats.

These are of course cats that are not used to close contact with humans, and they reflect this by being more aggressive. Typically you will see them hunch their back, hiss loudly and even growl if challenged. This is especially true if you try to trap them or corner them.

If they are caught early, and have not developed the natural behaviour of wild cats, then these can be domesticated. These cats will not live as long as one that is kept indoors, and a typical lifespan is around 5 years.

So, if you want to do your bit to help with this, then the best thing to do is to try to lay a trap for them and then hand them over to these volunteer groups. Will that make them go away? No, not really, but it will certainly stop them from breeding and in the long terms, it is the best solution.

Stray Cats

These are not quite the same as ferals. This is a pet cat which has simply got lost and will behave in a different way. When you approach one of these, they will tend not to run away, and they should certainly not be aggressive. Many homes, and certainly those with children, will however have a great desire to feed them. That is a huge mistake as all that will achieve, is to make the cat return. Animals are creatures of habit and when they are hungry, they want to eat. Hunting is a task, so if this handed to them in a saucer, then they will certainly like the idea of that.

Feeding them also gives them a sense of security and this again will mean that they will return. If you don't want these in your garden or yard, then never feed them. Cruel as it may first seem, sometimes you have to be that way, otherwise you pay the price of having them in your garden. If they are there, then they will behave in their instinctive manner which comes with all the problems of smells and odors.

Buying A Cat Trap - Reducing the population of feral cats

I have explained above how you can help reduce the population of these wild or feral cats. Now I fully appreciate this is part of a much bigger picture, and by doing this, you will be helping out. I also know that for many people they simply want them to go away, and just don't have the time or the inclination to do that.

I have shown below one of the best humane traps for capturing animals including raccoons, armadillos and yes our furry friends.

Stray Cat Rescue Kit

Havahart 1099 Feral Stray Cat Rescue Kit
Havahart 1099 Feral Stray Cat Rescue Kit

It is not easy to actually catch a cat and there is also the danger of aggression.

Using the right tools is essential and this one is perfect for the job.

It comes with a full rescue kit and it is easy to use.


Policies On Feral Cats By Governments and Voluntary Bodies

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

In the USA, UK, Canada and a few other countries this policy of trap, neuter and then returning them to where they were found has been adopted. In effect when captured and handed into these types of organizations, the cats are then sterilized either by neutering them or spaying them.

They also run various tests for rabies and may inoculate them against other well know viruses. They also provide various treatments for dealing with fleas. These programs are supported by leading organizations and in reality is about reducing and controlling the population of these animals by using humane methods.

As well as coming into your garden, these cats actually have a major impact on other wildlife. They are natural hunters and they are hungry so they will kill and eat smaller animals such as birds, rabbits, squirrels and mice.

Cat Traps In Action

This is a picture where one has been trapped and can now be easily transported to a voluntary organisation, and away from your garden.
This is a picture where one has been trapped and can now be easily transported to a voluntary organisation, and away from your garden.

How To Use Feral Traps

Setting Up A Feral Cat Trap

Ultrasound Device for Deterring Cats and Dogs
Ultrasound Device for Deterring Cats and Dogs

Humane Methods For Deterring Cats From Your Property

Top 10 Natural Methods To Repel Cats

There are other methods available that if you use will certainly stop them from coming into your space. These are of course sensible, practical and humane methods which people have tried and tested over time.

Tip 1 - They Hate Citrus

It is true that cats really do not like the smell of citrus, and you can turn this to your advantage. Try sprinkling some orange and lemon rind the areas where they normally try and enter your garden. This strong scent is pleasant to us and will also deter the intrusion of our four legged prowler. Lavender works, as does lemon grass. Planting rue also works really well and any combination of these will help a lot.

Tip 2 - Water Pistol

Now I am not in favour of throwing buckets of water over animals. Neither would I be a fan of using a hose as that can cause damage. However a few squirts with a water pistol will do the trick, and after a few of those, you will discover that they tend to stay away. Don't shout at them when doing this as you want the cat to associate getting wet with being in the wrong place, rather than the sound of your frustrated and angry voice.

I read once that water is the "Kryptonite" for cats.

Tip 3 - Uneven Surfaces

if you have ever observed how a cat walks, you may notice they are very careful where they place their feet. They like us enjoy their comfort and will avoid any surface that is too harsh on the bottom of their paws. This we can turn to our advantage in a garden and at the same time help that garden itself. Use a mulch around your garden and use lemon, lime and orange peels along with coffee grounds. Trust me, they will not like that one little bit.

Tip 4 - Use A Repellent Spray

This works as in effect you are marking out your territory with the smell of the spray. Intruders will sniff this and they tend to avoid that area. This may take a little time but they do eventually get the message. Something like "Shake Away" works really well and it is easy and fast to use. These sprays will not harm other animals, plants or children and are classed as being organic.

Tip 5 - Stop Them Digging

A lot of people think that only dogs dig, but if you observe cats, then they will also dig as well. Where you notice that happening cover up that area with something like an old stone. This annoys them and frustrates them and they will go somewhere else, that is not covered up.

Tip 6 - No Food In The Yard

Don't leave any food around as it attracts all varieties of animals. Make sure bins are locked and secure. Also make sure that if you have a bird feeder that the area around that has been roughened up to deter cats from loitering with intent.

Tip 7 - Under The House

It can be difficult to deal with them if they find a way under your house. Try putting some moth balls into a jar with the cover pierced a few times and then place it where you think they are getting in and watch what happens. As long as kids can not get to this jar, then it will work a treat.

Tip 8 - The Pine Cone Surface

Get some nice prickly pine cones, spray them with a citrus repellent and place these around your flower beds or vegetable plots. The citrus smell they detest and they will avoid walking on the cones.

Tip 9 - Stop The Pooping

If they are going to poop they will only do this in what is termed loose soil. If you have a nicely dug garden then really you have created the perfect outdoor toilet for wildlife. Plant some plants that I mentioned earlier and you can also do some mulching that is rough and uncomfortable for unwanted visitors. As an aside, this will also keep slugs away so you get two benefits for the price of one.

Tip 10 - Ultrasound

This is what I use as it is just quick and convenient and works like a treat. Install one of these and a high frequency sound will keep cats and dogs well away.

Animal Control Repellers That Work

I mentioned above that I use these as in my opinion, they are quick and easy to install and set up. They also worked really quickly for me and my garden is now 100% feline free. For around $40 this for me was a no brainer investment..

Click on any of the images to read more reviews.

Repellent Sprays That Work

If you prefer a simple spray, then I have listed below the top 3 sprays that get the best reviews. The basis behind these products is that the cat will smell your scent and this in turn will encourage them to leave as they no longer consider this to be their safe domain.

Citrus Orange Oils That Cats Do Not Like

Nature's Wisdom Orange Oil Concentrate
Nature's Wisdom Orange Oil Concentrate

This one is the most popular and I used this before I installed an ultrasonic sound.

It worked really well and has a nice scent to it. I think this one is a good short term solution and will work as long as the scent remains but that does mean regular use.


If You Have Any Deterrent Tips To Share - Please Share Them Below and Help Us All Out

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