Behavioral problems

How to Keep Cats Away from your Property

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: March 5, 2019
How to Keep Cats Away from your Property

See files for Cats

Regular readers of AnimalWised will know how much we love cats and work hard to maintain their well-being. However, when the cat in question is a stray cat or a neighbour cat, their presence isn't always as welcome. It's not that we don't want to share our space with cats, it's that a cat sees their environment differently to how we do. If we have beautiful raised garden beds, then a cat defecting in them and spreading the dirt is understandably annoying. Digging holes in the yard, urinating on grass and knocking over ornaments are all hazards which can prove annoying to us.

Pride over our carefully tended garden isn't the only reason we want to keep stray cats out of the yard. Stray cats have not been socialized in the same way as domestic cats. Our pet cats might have altercations or fights resulting not only in injury, but the potential spread of parasites and diseases[1].

The first thing to know about how to keep cats away from your property is that it needs to be done safely. If the cat is a neighbour cat, their guardians will be very upset if something bad happened to them. If they are a feral or stray cat, they are only trying to survive in their environment and don't deserve to be threatened. That's why we look at some safe, yet effective ways to keep cats away from your property.

You may also be interested in: How to Keep a Dog From Pooping in Your Yard
  1. Why do cats keep coming in my garden?
  2. How to deter cats from the garden
  3. 7 Home remedies to keep cats away from your property
  4. How to stop cats from pooping in the garden
  5. Tricks to keep cats away from the garden you shouldn't use

Why do cats keep coming in my garden?

To help prevent cats from coming in to our yard or property, we can look at why they keep entering in the first place. Cats are very active animals. While they are also territorial, they are always on the move within this territory. On any given day, they can travel several miles to hunt, exercise or simply meet their curiosity. Feral cats often don't have much human intervention in their lives, meaning they are unlikely to be sterilized. Male cats looking for a cat in heat will often push the boundaries and travel far and wide to meet their needs.

Stray cats may come to your house spontaneously or have taken advantage of your garden to use as a breeding space. If you have a nice idyllic garden, it is very possible a cat will see it as a nice place for refuge. This is particularly so if you are not on your property during the day. They may also be rooting through your trash to find some food to eat. Your garden may attract other animals such as birds and squirrels, making it a heady hunting ground for cats. If the cat is from a neighbour's home, then your property's zoning permit may not hold much water in the feline community. They may mark your garden as their territory and come and go as they please.

If you have a cat, then their natural territoriality[2] might mean a stronger stray cat may want to challenge your pet for the land. This is one of the main reasons we will want to stop other cats from getting into our property. While it may not always be possible to know the exact reason a cat will come into your garden, there are some general tips and tricks to help you prevent them from doing so.

How to deter cats from the garden

When knowing how to keep cats away from your property, we need to understand the importance of attacking the cause of the problem and not the presence of the animal itself. If you want to get rid of the cat permanently, then you will need to do your best to combat the aforementioned causes. Simply shooing the cat away will only stop them temporarily. Removing the drive to enter in the first place will help to provide a more permanent solution.

Here are 8 helpful tips to keep cats away from your garden or property:

  1. Avoid leaving garbage bags with open access and keep them in a closed container.
  2. Mice, rats and other vermin are temptations for cats, so by getting rid of them, you can help stop cats wanting to enter.
  3. If you like to feed birds, keep the feeders up in high places away from the ground. This will make them harder targets for cats and reduce temptation.
  4. Explore the yard to look for shelters or dens the cats may be using for security.
  5. Make use of natural home repellents to disuade them from entering (see below).
  6. Give your property a thorough clean with enzymatic products to eliminate any pheromones or other tempting scents.
  7. If you live in an urban area, contact local animal control services for collection (although first check their policies).
  8. If you live in more rural areas or smaller towns, you can see if there is a local animal shelter willing to collect them.

On the pet accessories market, you will find many feline repellent sprays. They are made from synthetic compounds designed to mimic urine or other scents of predators. Unfortunately, they are not always effective and their safety for both the cat and your garden are not always guaranteed.

Your best option to keep cats away from you property is to use a combination of the above tips with some of the natural products we will show you below. They are cheaper than synthetic versions and often just as effective, sometimes more so.

If the cat which keeps coming on to your property is a neighbour cat, you should also speak to the neighbour themselves. They may not be aware there is any problem and may also be able to help prevent the cat from entering. You can also combine forces with your neighbour to implement these tips to keep stray cats out of the general vicinity.

How to Keep Cats Away from your Property - How to deter cats from the garden

7 Home remedies to keep cats away from your property

There are many products which claim they can effectively keep a cat from your garden, but their effectiveness is not always conclusive. Part of the reason is the lack of regulation in production of animal products such as these. Another reason is that not every cat will have the same set of preferences. Some may be deterred while others may not. For this reason, there may be an element of trial and error involved in finding the right home remedy to keep cats away.

While the efficacy of these natural products and home remedies may be similarly difficult to prove, they are some of the best and safest ways to keep cats away. They are also much cheaper, so they won't require you to spend money on something which may prove ineffective.

1. Citrus to deter cats

One organic method which has proven to be effective in deterring some cats is citrus. This can be in the form of the peel and fruit of lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges and others. The best part about using citrus to repel cats from your property is that you can use leftovers from cooking or eating. Sprinkling them over raised flower beds will also help the soil in the form of fertilizer.

Similarly you can cut citrus fruits and rub them over the tops of walls, garden fences or plant pots. This smell, however, won't last very long and will need to be replaced regularly, especially after heavy rainfall.

2. Herbal repellent for cats

The astringency and sharpness of citrus is believed to be the reason why cats avoid it. Similarly, there are some herbal oils and essences you can use to provide the same results. They will also work better when putting around the garden as oils won't wash away as easily. In saying that, they can stain more readily, so you should be careful. Some organic herbal repellents for cats may include:

  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geraniums
  • Basil
  • Coleus Canina (also known as ‘scaredy-cat’)

3. Pepper to deter cats

A somewhat more aggressive solution is to sprinkle ground pepper on strategic places in your garden. This is because they can irritate the cat's nose, catch on their throat and even cause itching. However, it won't poison them and the result will be more annoyance than any actual damage.

4. Coffee to repel cats

Like citrus or some of the other organic plant material mentioned above, coffee tends to provide an uncomfortable aroma for cats. This is usually because of its intensity. As with the citrus peels, they can be spread around areas of the garden and have a dual function of fertilizing the planters. However, their efficacy is similarly in question.

5. Vinegar to deter cats

As similarly strong as other herbal or citrus repellents, the odor of vinegar may help prevent a cat from entering your property.

6. Garden fences to deter cats

Aside from these organic methods, there are also architectural elements which can help deter cats from the property. Although cats are notoriously good climbers, there are some specially designed fences which help to stop cats from entering. At the top of the fence, a perpendicular outcrop will make it very difficult for the cat to climb over. While you may need to secure the entire perimeter of the property, it is one of the most effect deterrents for cats.

7. Aluminum foil to deter cats

If you have problems with cats in planters and flower beds, loose aluminium foil placed in front of them can help deter them. This won't work very well if the foil is laid out flat as it is the uncertainty of the solidness of the ground which repels them.

Other methods to keep cats off your property

Every cat is unique. Some will be easily scared and will not approach areas with these deterrents. Others may see the enticement of a sparrow lunch as greater than the repellent. For this reason, we have a few other specific methods of helping to keep cats away from your garden.

How to stop cats from pooping in the garden

One of the most problematic issues with cats entering your property is the damage they can do. Cat feces is not only foul smelling, but they can introduce parasites and diseases. Urinating on plants can also affect their growth and stain otherwise carefully tended elements in your yard. This is why we bring you some handy tips to prevent cats from pooping and peeing on your property:

  1. Get a gardening shovel.
  2. Whenever you see a deposit made by a cat pooping or peeing in your yard, remove it, cover the earth (if possible).
  3. Sprinkle vinegar directly on the area or substitute it with one of the other strong smelling home remedies on our list.
  4. Avoid using ammonia or bleach.

Following these tips will not only help get rid of the smell, but it will counteract the pheromones the cat has left for themselves to follow. This means, when the cat comes back to the area, they will not be able to smell their markings and will be less likely to return due to the repellent.

Some people believe that cat feces may be helpful in fertilizing planters and raised flower beds, but this is not the case. The feces of carnivores is not always beneficial and it has the aforementioned potential of spreading disease and parasites.

How to Keep Cats Away from your Property - How to stop cats from pooping in the garden

Tricks to keep cats away from the garden you shouldn't use

While some of the tips and tricks may not work for the stray or neighbour cat entering your property, none of them will cause any serious harm to the feline. Many methods of deterring cats from gardens are much more hazardous and should be avoided at all costs. They include:

  • Cat poison: the use of poisons can be very dangerous in home use. While you should not want to kill any cat which comes your way in the first place, it is important to remember it is not only strays and feral cats which may ingest the poison. Your beloved family pet, the pet of your neighbour or even children playing can be seriously harmed.
  • Use of toxic repellents: similar to the previous case, these can be very damaging to any inhabitant of the garden. They can also cause serious damage to the plant life.
  • Scaring the cat: if you try to scare or chase the cat away, it will likely not understand why this is happening. With feral cats, especially, they may get aggressive and try to scratch you. This promotes disease and is at the very least unpleasant. It can also lead to harm coming to the cat and is not an effective deterrent.
  • Wetting the cat: this is cruel and unhelpful.

Avoid these methods of deterring the cat and keep your action humane. It will be better for the cat and more effective for you, your family and the garden itself.

If cats are not the only animal which can damage your garden. Take a look at our article on how to stop dogs destroying your garden if canines are responsible for the damage.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Keep Cats Away from your Property, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
1 comment
I had a group of cats that were taking over my front and back yard. At night, they would fight and/or copulate. I was at my wits end when I pulled into my driveway and three of them were under my car port. One had just sprayed my garage door. I called a nearby Starbucks and asked if they ever give away used coffee grounds, and turns out, they do! When I showed up minutes later, though, there were no pre-packaged "grounds for your garden" in their designated bin. Instead, the manager took all of the used grounds from their machines and filled a large plastic bag with at least 5 gallons of grounds. A lot of them were the espresso grounds, so they were compact and looked like charcoal briquettes. My son and I spread the all around the outside of our house and along the fence line. We put extra in their favorite areas (including in front of my garage door). While we were spreading the grounds, we saw the alpha in the backyard. We actually chucked a couple of espresso briquettes at him. Long story shortened, it's been a week since we spread out the coffee and I haven't seen a single cat in our yards. Even my 15 year old (indoor) cat gave me "side-eye" for a day or so because I think she could smell the grounds from inside the house. Even if we have to re-apply the grounds periodically, I don't mind doing so.
Administrador AnimalWised

We understand how frustrating it can be when you have uninvited guests, but we recommend people don't throw things at cats. You can try to scare them off, but throwing things may cause them serious injury.

However, what a great idea about getting coffee grounds from a coffee shop. Thank you for sharing and we hope our readers will get use from it.
1 of 3
How to Keep Cats Away from your Property