7 Smart Ways To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden

You love your garden. It brings your family and friends together and offers you a place to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, it seems like feral and domestic neighbourhood cats love it, too. A beautiful garden can be a cat’s playground. As much as we may care for our feline friends, their place is out of our garden fences. Do you have lots of unwanted feline visitors and want to find out how to stop them from visiting your garden? Read our advice on why cats roam and how to keep neighbouring cats away right ‘’meow’’.

An angry cat looking over a fence

What attracts cats in your garden?

Not everyone is a “cat fan”. Maybe you’re more of the dog kind of person. But, let’s say that you really like animals even though you don’t want to have one. Cool! Now, what about your neighbours? Do they leave their cats to walk around freely? Are they giving you a headache every time they get into your garden to dig and spray? Here are the main reasons why a cat visits your garden: 

  1. Domestic cats, feral ones, and homeless strays may wander into your yard or garden due to curiosity. Cats are curious by nature, and some extroverts simply enjoy visiting neighbours. A lucky few are welcomed and cause no problems. Others cause a nuisance, stealing food, spray-marking and fighting.
  2. Feeding and hunting are the most likely reasons for a cat to visit your garden. Cats only have small stomachs, and they are programmed to eat 10 to 20 times a day. When they are not fed well they feel hungry, even between meals, and are driven to find food anywhere they can, even if that means breaking into another cat’s home.
  3. Mating is one reason a cat may look around your garden, especially if you own a cat yourself or if your house is a good meeting place for the neighbourhood cats. 
  4. Many cats, mainly male, consider one of their priority duties to establish their territory. This could lead to many fights around, or even inside your garden, with resident cats. 
  5. Your carefully mulched, loamy garden soil and flower beds are an attractive toilet for a cat. Cats spray to mark their territory and could also use your beds as their luxury litter box.
  6. Some may be looking for a new place to call home. Shelter and attention are some of the main reasons a cat is coming to your home. Since cats have incredible climbing and jumping abilities, keeping them out of your outdoor area can be challenging.

Find Out What Makes Cats In Your Garden A Nightmare

A cat digging a beautiful garden
  1. Cats are known to knock down ornaments and mess up the look of a manicured yard. They dig in the garden and love gnawing on some of your plants. This is annoying to homeowners who spend time and money to make their yards look beautiful. 
  2. The mating cries of male cats often sound like a baby crying. This will probably wake you up during the night and is bothersome to neighbours. But, it’s even worse for parents who may scramble to nurture a crying baby, only to discover it’s the cat. Not cool, right?
  3. Establishing territory is very important to cats. This leads to fights that may bother or hurt your pets or other stray cats in the area.
  4. Cat urine carries disease and illnesses. Cats are carnivores, and their faeces is not good for your garden or flower beds. Their poop can contain diseases and dangerous pathogens not present in herbivore manure, like roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. This is concerning because it can create a health hazard in any food grown close, and most of us plan to eat the food we grow. There’s also the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that is risky for pregnant women. It would be a good idea to keep cats pooping far away from your yard.
  5. A beautiful garden is designed to attract pollinators, like hummingbirds and other wild birds. If you love feeding and watching them, a cat could take the joy out of it. A household cat can kill hundreds of birds a year, and roaming domestic cats kill millions of birds and small animals each year. 
  6. Roaming cats can be a source of tension between neighbours. Other people’s unwanted pets on your property are annoying, and many owners have significant problems with other people’s cats. In particular, catfights, intimidation, and entering their homes are not acceptable. What’s more, people who own a cat usually have to pay for veterinary treatment for the wounds caused in battles with other cats.

Fortunately, there are animal-friendly ways to keep felines out of your garden for good. Take a look at a few good cat repellents and approaches to stop feline intruders from entering your much-loved garden.

How to keep cats out of your garden?

1. Keep Them away with fencing

Proper fencing and a tall garden gate is the most effective method for keeping felines away from a specific area. Fence solutions can range from complicated and expensive to cheap and simple. 

A cat watching behind a fence
  • Cats love to dig holes, and they can fit through the narrowest of gaps. Bury chicken wire at least 1 foot below the surface of the ground. It will keep them from digging under your fence. 
  • With some neighbour cooperation, you can angle the top of the fence outwards. Adding part of the hedge outwards will make it harder for the cats to pass over it.
  • You can install oscillate fencing. It attaches above your regular fencing and rolls when a cat jumps on top. That way, the cat will not be able to jump on top of the fence. 
  • For specific, smaller areas, you can use bird netting as a barrier. Netting can them out of this area. 
  • In case you want to keep felines out of your garden beds, use floating row covers. They will help to create a mini-zone for your garden and protect your plants too. Who wouldn’t want that, right? You can easily make some row cover by pending PVC pipe over your garden beds. Have in mind that this will keep felines out of your flowerbeds, though they can have access to another part of your yard.

2. Make the garden soil spiky

Cats are known for their smooth paws and the fact that they prefer soft surfaces to walk on. Add prickly objects on the ground of your garden and make it less inviting to them. You can try these low-cost and simple solutions:

  • Cover your garden soil and your garden beds with bundles of twigs. Place them a couple of inches apart, especially in all those places that cats seem to prefer. 
  • Push pinecones, dried trimmings, and other organic materials into your soil. Place them, especially around your precious plants and flowers. You can stone mulch, eggshells, holly cuttings or repurposed plastic carpet runners with the nub side up.
  • You can also use thorny bushes. Cuttings from shrubs like holly or roses along with mulch will protect your garden. Plants with prickly leaves will scare them too. Look for Coleus Canina, called the scaredy-cat plant; it is very effective at keeping cats away.
  • Use plastic forks or wooden chopsticks as garden stakes. Place them close enough to one another for the cat to have a hard time turning around.
  • Lay chicken wire or mesh fabric over the ground. You can also place pieces of lattice. Just make sure to provide an opening if there are budding plants in the soil.
A couple of forks in a garden's soil

3. Use scent to keep the cats away

  • What you should do first is to eliminate cat attracting plants. Plants that attract cats to your yard include catnip, mint, lemongrass, cat grass, valerian, cat thyme, spider plants, honeysuckle and silvervine.
  • On the other hand, cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus Canina and lemon thyme. You should plant a few of these throughout the garden to see cats going away.
  • Cats avoid strong citrus peels scents. You can throw orange, lime, grapefruit or lemon peels directly onto garden soil.
  • If you do not want to plant herbs, you could sprinkle essential oils derived from these plants around your garden for the same effect. Look for essential oils of lemongrass, citronella, citrus, eucalyptus, and levander. Make sure you are careful while using this and always advice a specialist, because levander can be dangerous for cats.
  • You can make your homemade cat repellent. Here is what you need to do: mix one teaspoon of peppermint, dry mustard, eucalyptus, cinnamon, crushed garlic cloves and citrus oil. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and fill it with water. After shaking it well, spray it on your lawn and flower beds to keep felines away.
  • Use coffee grounds to repel cats. They have an intense, long-lasting smell that cats hate. Shed it around your favourite plants or down the rows of your garden. Not only do they blend visually with the ground, but they are also suitable for your plants.
  • There are commercial cat repellents that copy the smells of predator urine. They are advertised as non-toxic for the plants and organic. All you have to do is sprinkle it around the problem area.
  • You can also try sprinkling offensive substances around the area, such as cayenne pepper flakes or ammonia. Some people use mothballs, but they are not recommended since they are toxic to cats and people.

4. Use Water to keep the cats away

  • Cats tend to choose the same spot repeatedly as they feel that this is their territory. You can remove their scent or urine spray by cleaning the area with a hose and eco-friendly soap. That way, you may prevent repeat offences since you removed their previous claim to your garden.
  • Many people say that water is a cat’s kryptonite. You can show your feline visitors that they are unwanted by spraying them every time they enter your garden. Use your garden’s hose or even a water pistol. Since you can’t sit in your garden every day and all day long, you can get a garden injector with a motion sensor. It will detect the intruder’s presence and its sprinkler will fire a blast of water at it. Just make sure you remember when the sprinklers are on so you won’t end up feeling like a soaked cat.
A cat being sprayed with water

5. Use Sound Barriers

  • Felines have a much higher hearing range than humans. Many sounds prevent cats from coming near your garden. Try wind chimes, motion-sensitive bells or even rocks or shells in a jar that clink when a kitty comes near. 
  • Electronic cat deterrent devices operate on a high frequency that is inaudible to humans but unbearable for cats. Most of them are motion-activated and easy to install.
  • Use tin foil to irritate cats walking around your garden. You can make tin foil flags around the garden to get a high-frequency cat deterrent.

6. Create an outdoor litter box

When you are an outdoor cat, the world is your toilet. Cats love mint, honeysuckle and catnip for that. Call it reconciliation and place a small sandbox somewhere in the garden. Yes, it will take you time cleaning it up frequently, but you can save your veggies. Cats are brilliant animals. If you find out that they are using your garden instead, scoop some waste out of the garden and put it in the box. The cat should catch on pretty quick.

7. Take Preventative Measures To Stop Attracting Cats

Cats visit your garden for many reasons, as we mentioned. Feral cats must rely solely on what they hunt for food. They can also look for a shady spot during summer, a shed, or a quiet corner to rest. When it comes to reproduction, lady cats can attract unwanted males to your area. Keeping this in mind, let’s find out some ways to keep them away from the yard:

  • Felines have a great sense of smell. Keep your trash put away and avoid leaving them in places where cats can get into it. Hungry cats will probably have a party in there if you won’t take care of it
  • Cats are not only attracted to trash but also mice and rats. They like to stalk them and prey for fun, besides eating them. Make sure that the yard is not hospitable for critters that cats like to chase. Clear away brush and clutter that can house mice and other small prey that cats love to pursue. Keep your garden cleaned up and control mice and rats populations.
  • Besides trash and mice, another favourite food for cats is birds. Place bird feeders properly and in high places safe from cats. That way, you can keep the local bird population out of hazard and avoid their predators from your garden.
  • Check all the areas around the yard that could be used as places for cats to hide. Check your garage and outdoor sheds and block off or eliminate access.
A cat watching a bird and it's ready to eat it

What if none of them works? How to curb the cat population?

Repellent and cleaning methods are not enough? Do unwanted visitors keep coming back to your place? Now is the time to find out the most effective ways to keep the cat population in control. 

Talk To Your Neighbors

Your neighbours probably deal with the same cat problem you have. If you are on friendly terms with them, consider having a conversation. You could discuss the situation and look for solutions. They may have some useful insights into the answer to the stray cat’s problem. 

If the visiting cat belongs to one of your neighbours, you can approach them in a non-confrontational way, and maybe they will keep their cat more contained from now on.  

Talk to the community about a TNR(Trap-Neuter-Return) program

Cats are territorial and are quickly reproducing. Feral cats are usually not neutered and will repopulate soon. In a Trap-Neuter-Return program, community cats are approached and brought to a veterinarian to be spayed, neutered and vaccinated. After this procedure, they will return to their colony and live their lives. The long-term effects of TNR are lasting. By participating in TNR, you help to limit the population of wandering cats permanently

Support Local Shelters And Programs For Strays

If the visiting cat in your garden is a stray, you can contact your local rescue centre. They may be willing to collect and care for the cat. Most cats are strays, and many local programs humanely deal with them. You can volunteer to programs that help the strays and educate people about them or donate to local shelters and programs. By doing that, you become part of the solution.

Talk to animal control

Animal control workers handle animals of all types. Their job is to investigate mistreated animals and control those that are dangerous, abandoned or lost. They may have some great ideas, specific to your area, for keeping cats away. 

Learn about the Local Laws And Ordinances

Every city, state, and country has different laws when it comes to animals. Know your rights and look for procedures that your area may follow when a stray invades your property.

Adopt A Dog

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘’they fight like cat and dog?’’ You may see some dogs getting along with cats. But in most cases, this happens when they are raised together. It is more common to see them hating each other. Cats, because of their fear, do not get near any place with a dog. A large dog or even a small dog with a loud bark can keep cats far from your fences. Dog breeds that are known for doing so are hunting dogs, terriers, fighting dogs, and herding dogs. 

A dog barking behind a fence

There are no easy solutions when it comes to the roaming nature of cats. But, with a little experimentation with these deterrents, you should soon be able to enjoy your garden again without any cat visitors. Find the one that works best for your place and your particular feline nemeses, and keep your treasured garden without litter and upturning plants.

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