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Cat Behavior

How to Keep Feral Cats From Your Yard


As most of us know, cats (both feral and domestic) can cause problems in a neighborhood. While we are huge advocates of keeping your pets indoors or controlled within a yard or outdoor enclosure, there are a number of people who do not share this sentiment.

Feral cats have a way of moving in and taking over a neighborhood, and that is the direct fault of irresponsible pet owners. But, you can help. It may be time to begin a Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) program in the neighborhood.

If that’s not something you feel capable of doing, there are other things that may help and we have them listed below. These are simple fixes to keep any feral cat away from your front door, your yard, your garden or your car. You may need to try more than one solution.

No matter what you choose, remember that cats, and other domestic or feral animals, are protected by the law and intentionally injuring or killing one is a felony offense. Rather than go on the offensive, take the high road and help your neighborhood resolve the problem. There are many benefits to having feral cats around. They keep the rodent population at bay, they keep other cats from entering the neighborhood (when using an effective TNR program), and they are fun to watch. But, for those who don’t want them around, here’s your list of ways to keep them away:

[heading style=”2″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]For the Caretakers of Stray & Feral Cats[/heading]

Fencing: There are fences available that will keep cats in the yard, but they can be expensive (ranging between $400- $1000), and many of your good neighbors may simply be unable to afford them. The options we’ve explored include Purrfect Fence and KittyWalk products. Both are excellent solutions, and if you are willing to work with your neighbors on incorporating these into their lives, you may just find that they are very willing to try them out.

[heading style=”2″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]TNR Programs[/heading]

Due to your proximity to a park, there are likely a number of pets who have been abandoned or lost. While these may be domesticated cats, they do not belong to anyone in particular. As all domestic animals are protected from injury or death by the law, one cannot harm them. In Arizona, it costs $90 to turn a stray into animal control, $70 to turn one into the AZ Humane Society, and you may never be certain if you are trapping a neighbors pet. If you were to turn a pet in to one of these organizations, and that pet were euthanized (which is often the case with cats), you could easily become involved with a lawsuit. Therefore, trapping and relocating should be avoided. Even if cats are trapped and removed to another area, they will find their way back to their “home,” making this an effective alternative, or other cats will move into a colony to take the place of the missing one. Colonies are self-regulating. The only effective method of controlling your neighborhood cat population is with consistent Trap, Neuter and Release efforts. There are a number of organizations in the world who will assist you with this effort – if you need recommendations for your specific location, let me know and I’ll get my human to give you a list.

In the meantime, there are many ways to keep cats out of your yards. I hope that one or more of these work for you.

Doors being sprayed

  • Aluminum Foil: Cats do not like the way that aluminum foil feels on their paws, or the sounds that it makes when stepped on. Placing a large piece of foil in front of, or taping against, the door is an inexpensive and simple way of stopping the problem.
  • Scat Mats: There are several different types of scat mats. Some have raised points on them that do not injure the cats, but does deter them from entering the area. These mats can be purchased from PetCo, PetSmart ( ), or Drs. Foster & Smith ( ) for less than $12.00. Another type of scat mat can be plugged into a nearby outlet and produces a static electricity charge that, when stepped on, will create a small static charge which keeps the cat away. These types of mats can be a bit more expensive varying between $50-$100.
  • Motion-Activated Sprays: Ssscat is a motion-activated sensor that produces a safe spray and a loud noise when activated. They have a range of 3-10 feet, and this can be adjusted for height and range.
  • Doublestick tape: Placing double stick tape on your doors, or most effective on doors. Sticky Paws offers a wide selection of sizes and they will not harm your doors or windows. Cats do not like the feel of the tape, and will run away.

These are highly effective methods and quite inexpensive. Often these stop-gaps are only required for a short time period. The goal is to create doubt about a cat entering the yard.

Garden Areas

To keep cats out of your garden, you can try several things.

  • Ornamental Pebbles/Gravel: cats do not like to walk on this, and they look nice in yards.
  • Water: Keeping an area moist, which in our heat is a good idea anyway, will deter cats from entering the garden.
  • Plants: There are several plants that work well for keeping pets out of your garden and/or yard. One of these is known as Coleus Canina, a newly developed plant that cats (and all types of animals) hate. It releases a stench that animals cannot handle. However, it only smells to the human nose when touched! It’s a pretty plant and works in nearly all types of landscaping and climates. You could also try using the herb, Rue. The blue leaves create a nice garden accent, and cats seem to hate the odor. Cats are not keen on the smell of citrus either, and so you could try using orange or lemon peel in your yard as a deterrent. Other things that have been successful are coffee grounds, blood meal, cayenne pepper, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil.

Entire Yards

Note that these solutions generally only need to be activated at night, when strays are most active.

  • Water Bottle: Fill a clear plastic bottle halfway with water. Replace lid and set in the middle of the lawn. If you have a large lawn area, place two or three out. The theory is that cats are frightened away by light that travels through the bottle of water, giving off little “flashes”. He’s away
  • Blank or Scratched CD’s: these work the same way as a water bottle by reflecting light and causing doubt in the cat when he/she enters your yard.
  • Motion Activated Sprinkler: These are essentially sprinklers that are motion activated. When a cat or other pet walks in front of it, they set forth a 3-second burst of water. They run about $50-100.
  • UltraSonic Cat Deterrent: These systems operate on a 9-volt battery and when a cat comes into range, it sets off an ultrasonic sound, undetectable to humans. Often they run about $60.

Hope these suggestions help a little with your cat issues! Remember that it is always best to start out with a little, then move into the power tools. It will be much more effective in the long run!

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