Keeping the Neighbourhood Cats Out of Your Garden

Oh them cats, they are so adorable and yet can be so destructive. A lot of cats love to roam the neighbourhoods, especially in the summer, but not all of the neighbours love the cats in their yards and gardens. Cats are very territorial and mark their territory by depositing pheromones from scent glands, like urinating. So, what can you do about it while being as nice as possible? Here are a few tips for you:

  1. The first tip would be talking to the owner of the cats in a kind, non-confrontational way. They may decide to start keeping their cats indoors. Cats are also stubborn and do their own thinking, so if they insist on hanging out outside then, it’s time to try other methods.
  2. Plant a border around your garden or yard of plants that have a scent or texture that cats find offensive, that also doesn’t harm the cat. Here are a few examples:
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Coleus Canina or “Scaredy Cat”
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary

There are also cat repellent sprays that you can buy commercially or better yet, make at home. You spray these around your garden or yard and re-apply every few days until the cats get the hint. One recipe for a spray is as follows:

  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 chillies
  • 2 drops of concentrated dishwashing detergent
  • Black pepper
  • Water to fill the bottle

Combine all in a 2-litre bottle. Leave mixture overnight and then transfer to a spray bottle and spray around the area you are trying to keep cats out of. Don’t spray too much and not in the house or near open windows, as the smell is quite unpleasant! Re-apply as needed. Never, ever, spray directly on an animal. Some other tips:

  • Some people put chicken wire down on their garden, or just under the soil in the garden to discourage cats from using it as a litter box.
  • There are motion activated sprinklers you can get that sense when an animal is where it isn’t supposed to be, and turns on. The combination of the water and the unexpectedness of the water usually is enough to scare them out of the yard.
  • Tie a string on top of the fence; it makes it uncomfortable for them to cross or walk along.
  • Get a dog! Cats will stay out of a garden that is occupied by a dog.
  • Keep trash secured with a tight-fitting lid, so they can’t get into your garbage.
  • Tie a disposable aluminum pan to a stake in your yard. As the wind blows, it will provide soft noises that cats don’t like.
  • Put citrus peels or coffee grounds in the garden. Cats don’t typically like strong smells like those, but they don’t tend to bother people all that much.
  • Keep a lid on your child’s sandbox so that it is less appealing as a litterbox.
  • Plant catnip in an area where you would rather they be.

Things to NOT do:

  • Don’t use mothballs, they are toxic to the cat and can contaminate your garden soil. Best to not use those!
  • Cayenne or red pepper flakes are often used but if it’s windy, those flakes are going to go right into the poor kitties eyes, and it’s going to hurt, which we don’t want to do.
  • Be very careful using any repellent with essential oils. Over the years, we have come to realize that some of these oils are quite toxic to animals.

Using these tips will help everyone have a much more enjoyable summer. Remember, we are not here to hurt the cats, just to dissuade them from entering your garden or yard.

Written by Mill Creek Animal Hospital