Do cat repellents work? How to prevent a cat from using the garden as a litter box? Tell me how to keep cats out of my yard. These are common questions that concern all gardeners, but is there a real answer?
The first line of defense is to make sure your garden borders are secure. Any gaps in your fence should be blocked to deny low-level access. But cats can jump, so attach a taut wire or string about 6 inches above the top of your fence to discourage this approach.
Once in your yard, many people say that the best cat repellent dog is a dog that will soon scare away any feline intruder. Unless you are a dog lover, you will have to resort to more passive methods. Since cats like to lie on freshly dug soil, it’s a good idea to mulch your edges to keep bare soil from being exposed. Seed beds should be covered with wire netting or branches arranged as a barrier.
Young trees should have plastic guards around their trunks to protect them from being used as a scratching post.
Your garden pond should be covered with a net to protect your fish.
Cats in general are notorious for not liking water, so a well-aimed bucket or spritz with the hose is sure to trick an intruder into running away. After a pour or two, it can learn the lesson and stay away.
Both mothballs and citrus fruits are said to be effective deterrents for protecting plants and borders. Place the mothballs, orange zest or lemon zest in the edges. Alternatively, mist the wipes with orange-scented air freshener and place the wipes around the plants you wish to protect. Other well-known cat repellants include cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemongrass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, and mustard oil.
Certain herbs are said to deter cats. Specifically, rue, but not catnip, which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant marketed by a retailer as a cat repellent.
Broadcaster Jerry Baker has suggested treating your yard with a tonic made from chewing tobacco, urine, birth control pills, mouthwash, molasses, laundry detergent and beer. A small farmer has reported success with dried rabbit blood, but you may think the ingredients listed in the previous paragraph should be tried first.
If you visit your local garden center or hardware store, you will find several cat repellent products on sale. These range from electric water sprinklers and ultrasonic devices to sprays and granules.
Motion activated sprinklers work the same way as an intruder alarm with an infrared detector. When the cat enters the area covered by the detector, the sprinkler shoots out a jet of water to scare the animal away. It is claimed that after one or two encounters with the jet, the cat will learn to avoid the area.
Ultrasound machines emit a high-frequency sound that’s annoying to cats (and dogs) but inaudible to humans. There are several models, some working continuously and others having an infrared detector and only emitting a beep when the cat triggers the device. To be successful you need to make sure the model is strong enough to cover the area you want to protect. Also make sure that the audio frequency is designed for larger animals, as some models are designed to deter insects and would therefore not be suitable for cats.
There are also commercially available scented cat repellents. Those using chemicals should be kept away from food crops, but the essential oil-based granular varieties work in the same way as the orange and lemon peels mentioned above. Another way to keep a cat out of the garden is with a repellent vaporizer, which consists of a container containing puffed rice that has been impregnated with essential oils. These work for three to four weeks and can then be refilled for a further period. Another natural product that many people claim really does keep a cat out of the yard is lion manure. You may need to visit your local zoo to obtain this, although some stores carry zoo poop.
In Ontario, Canada, the local community offers a cat trap service. Once the animal enters the cage, it cannot escape but is completely unharmed. The owner will have to pay to find their pet again and should therefore be encouraged not to let the cat stray in the future. Apparently, few owners bother reclaiming their cats, instead simply getting another kitten. However, this sounds like a good way to deal with a cat who won’t be deterred by any other method. If there is no such system in your area, just buy your own trap.
To recap, the number one priority is securing your perimeter fencing. Then you have the full range of recommended cat repellents ranging from homemade recipes to expensive commercial gadgets. I would suggest you try the orange peel and prickly branches first. If you’re nearby when the intruder spawns, try the bucket of water or the hose. Even if you miss, the shock can be a sufficient deterrent. If these aren’t enough, you may need to consider the commercial alternatives.
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