Cats. Fluffy, adorable and absolutely infuriating in equal measure.
Whether you want to put all the kitties in a basket or you’re indifferent to their moggy charms, there’s no denying that an unruly feline can cause untold damage in your garden.
It’s all well and good laughing as Felix from next door chases dragonflies across your lawn. Not so funny when he’s chewing on your azaleas and digging out your pansies to make a toilet for himself, eh?
When it comes to repelling cats, there are a wide variety of methods, and finding the right one takes perseverance and experimentation.
The Common Sense Approach
Cats are cunning opponents, and the decision to wage war against them shouldn’t be taken lightly. Study your enemy closely. What do they like about your garden? The shade offered by your tree? The nice little patch of compost where they can warm themselves? The free dinner they get when you throw your lunchtime scraps out to the birds?
As creatures of habit, the two things they like the most are food and comfort. Taking away their source of enjoyment will mean they no longer have a reason to enter your garden. Put scraps into bird feeders high off the ground and if you have your own pets, feed them indoors. Place physical barriers in the areas where they like to lounge, spoiling their fun.
What’s That Smell?
Cats dislike overpowering scents (especially citrus based), so planting highly aromatic herbs will put them off. Rosemary, lavender, garlic, citronella and lemongrass are natural, safe repellents. If you find the local stray frequenting a certain corner of your yard, rubbing raw onion on the ground and fencing around it should give him his marching orders.
Spreading citrus peel in your beds will prevent them being used as kitty litter. For a more potent effect, dilute a few drops of citronella essential oil with water in a 1:3 ratio and spray around problem areas.
Cats love a good, soft, dry spot. Spreading mulch over any exposed soil will create a moist surface that kitty paws don’t favour. The same goes for chicken wire- lay it over the earth in your beds to stop digging.
Tabbies also have a well-known hatred of reflective surfaces, so placing sheets of aluminium foil or even old cds in your garden will throw them off their game. Half-filling old soda bottles with water and laying lentghways along your borders will have the same effect.
Chemical Cat Repellents
So, the common sense and natural approaches haven’t worked and your enemy has taken your efforts as a further challenge. Hmmm. You may need a stronger preventative.
Chemical cat repellents are a safe, non-toxic way of discouraging felines. Available as pellets or sprays, they can be bought cheaply from most pet shops and garden centres. Initially, it may take a few weeks of constant application until the cats get the message but after that, an occasional blitz of your outdoor areas should suffice.
A third alternative to spray and pellets is lion dung. This works on the principle that cats will be frightened off by the territorial scent of a larger feline. Thankfully, you don’t need to buy a pet lion, as pebbles of fertilizer dipped in lion essence are widely available to buy. Phew!
Mechanical Cat Deterrents
Bring in the artillery! For the most persistent infiltrators, mechanical precautions may be necessary. Motion detector cat scarers are an ideal way to ensure that no moggy gets too comfortable in your yard. These detectors come in a few different forms, from ultrasonic devices that emit a high frequency sound when activated, to jet spray sprinklers that release a burst of water when a cat crosses its path. Although more expensive than their chemical counterparts, mechanical repellents are more effective and last longer. However, they do require a power source and the jet spray models also require a water supply.
Hopefully, at least one of the above methods will work for you. However, if all else fails, you could always go to extreme lengths and get your very own cat. Or lion. Raaaawr!