Cats can be really troublesome animals due to their nighttime activity, habits of eating what they are not allowed to and urinating in places where they are not permitted to do it. This is especially the case with their behavior in the garden and lawns. The major challenge are feral cats which cause larger damage, aggressive and often carry diseases posing risks to your family and pets. All this is a good reason for taking corresponding measures but to do that you have to know how to keep cats away. In this article, we will cover how to keep cats out of yard, including such solutions as fencing, netting, mesh screen, chicken wires and others. To learn about commercially available and homemade cat repellents read a dedicated article on our website.
Use Fencing To Keep Cats Away
How to keep cats out of the garden? Indeed, everything of genius is simple. When reviewing the management of deer and dogs, we referred to scientists which agree that a high quality and correctly installed fencing is the most effective way to keep cats away from forbidden zones. The same applies to cats. Dr. Angela O'Callaghan from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension claims that although other solutions are of interest as well, none of them guarantee the protection of your garden from these persistent intruders. Whereas the erection of fences around the vegetable garden or flower beds normally helps keep cats away.
Keep in mind that the fencing should fit within certain parameters: the lower part of the structure should be installed no less than a foot below the ground surface and have the same height above the ground. The fence should be properly fortified on the bottom to discourage digging while the gaps should not exceed two inches. The top of the fence should be angled outside the garden so that a cat will not be able to climb over it. However, take into account that such kind of fencing will likely make your garden look like a prison yard.
Depending on the purpose of a fence, it can be made from different materials which have their advantages and drawbacks. Plastic ones are more lightweight and flimsy but they are most inexpensive. If saving money is a matter of principle for you, be sure that the fence is properly supported, then this option will be an optimal one. The advantage of metal is that it ensures the durability of the structure, and if the wire is galvanized, the structure’s life expectancy will be significantly increased. Wood fences are typically the priciest ones but they have a crucial strong point as they look more organic near the garden and create an attractive rural style. But keep in mind that it is always useful to play around with diverse materials. For instance, you can attach wire fencing to the lower part of a wood fence to make the structure more solid and, at the same time, to preserve its appealing form.
Netting. The other approach implies using netting. Brooke Edmunds, OSU Extension Service Benton County, provides an example of a blackbird netting which can be suspended above the soil surface and is very efficient for the protection of vegetable garden beds from cats. However, the expert makes a reservation that this is not the best solution for large gardens as in this case a netting will look quite unattractive.
Floating row covers. Scientists at UCCE Master Gardener Program, the University of California, also consider a method of blocking access to the garden to be the most practical one. To this end, they recommend using floating row covers or chicken wires which should be installed above the soil surface in order to discourage cats from digging. Placing a low voltage wire will also be a good protection: “Place it about 4 inches above the edge of the raised bed and attach it to fiberglass rods pushed into the soil at each corner of the bed. The wires should run to each rod and then to an electric fence charger; some of which are battery-powered,” the scientists say. As soon as the cat will get accustomed to staying away from the vegetable bed, the barrier can be removed. Netting can also play a useful role indoors in case there is a baby in the house. Thus, scientists from the Ohio State University advise using a crib net as the protection of a baby from unpredictable behavior of domesticated cats. Place a net over the crib to keep cats away. But take into account that the net should be pulled tight, otherwise your pets will perceive it and use as a hammock.
In general, creating conditions preventing a cat from digging soil is the best way to make it lose a taste for using that specific site as a litter box. There is a large variety of such obstacles, for example, a surface unpleasant to step on. For this purpose, place a rough textured mulch, pine cones or a cat mat in the forbidden zone. You may create an obstacle out of wooden chopsticks or cat mat or ten-inch plant stakes placed every eight inches to make the site less attractive to cats.
How To Keep Feral Cats Out Of Your Yard
Cats’ DNA has programmed them to be predators and this feature cannot be eliminated in any way — neither by taming nor by changing life conditions. While domestic cats hunt for birds and lizards from time to time, feral cats do it on a regular basis as it is the essential part of their life. Feral cats inhabit places in the vicinity of human settlements and therefore pose a threat first and foremost as disease-carriers. According to the data provided by scientists from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, these animals can transfer diseases to humans through domestic cats. The list includes feline leukemia, distemper, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, rabies, cat scratch fever and other. Feral cats also inflict other sorts of damage by killing birds and small animals, fighting with pets from neighboring households, attacking gardens.
How to deal with the feral cat problem? Scientists from The University of Nebraska claim that the only effective approach is a comprehensive one which involves the timely use of diverse methods, including habitat modification, fencing, scare tactics, trapping and other. But keep in mind that all these solutions will not entirely solve the problem, but would simply reduce the number of this kind of animals in the neighborhood.
Habitat modification involves decreasing the availability of food and water sources as well as the shelter for feral cats in the given area. Look around for anything that can become a source of food and water for them. If you let your pets out, leave as much food for them outdoors as they can consume at one time. Repair leaky pipes and place household wastes in enclosed areas while bird feeders should be placed at least 10 feet from foliage and places where cats can potentially hide. Remove piles of wood, boxes or any other large-sized garbage since all these objects can be used by feral cats as a shelter.
Fencing and Netting is the most effective way of protecting the garden from feral cats. In this case, however, the fence should be higher than a barrier designed to keep away pets from flower and vegetable beds and should amount to at least 6 feet in height. Apart from that, install a mesh screen in a porch, shed, vent, and other structures to block the access for feral cats to all areas from where they can penetrate into your house and garden. A wire mesh should be placed perpendicular to the top of a roof and walls to hinder cats’ moving from one place to another. In order to prevent them using your garden as a latrine, distribute cat spikes along its perimeter.
Cage traps can also be used in feral cat control strategy, with the captured animals being handed over to a veterinarian clinic for further adoption or humane euthanasia. The latter implies shooting to the head or chemical injection. In any case, you should better leave that to the professionals.
Giving Cats Their Own Space - Cat Friendly Plants
It will be a wise decision to provide cats with an alternative site in the garden, intended to be used as a latrine and chewing specially planted vegetation. Then one wonders how to lure the cat there and tame it to use the site properly given a disobedient temper of these animals. For this purpose, you have plants that cats fancy at your disposal. All that has to be done is to plant them in a specially dedicated site in your garden. But what plants make cats get crazy over? Dr. Leonard Perry, an Extension Professor at the University of Vermont, provides the following list.
Most cats adore catnip which you can also use to make a tea or cure a variety of diseases. However, useful properties of this plant are not confined to those mentioned above. Catnip works effectively against mosquitoes, but cats get excited when smelling and tasting this plant. Your pets are likely to be attracted by a catmint, a plant with silver leaves and flowers of white or dark blue colors which is recommended to be grown in a sunny site. They will also like valerian, this well-known sedative to humans has turned out to have a stimulating impact on cats. Other plants attracting these animals are creeping rosemary and tender herb lemongrass. Both are resistant to cold weather conditions, therefore, if you live in northern areas of the United States, consider this option.
At the same time, certain plants must be excluded from this cat garden as they are toxic to these animals and can harm them. Also, if you have noticed your pet touching these plants somewhere, call a veterinarian since the negative effect may be seen just sometime after the animal ingested it. Lauren Eichstadt, a staff pharmacist at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, specifies the most hazardous ones.
Daffodil contains a chemical component causing vomiting and abdominal pains, consumption of tulip leads to dehydration and troubled respiration. Particularly, be careful to keep cats away from some species of lilies, such as Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show, ingestion of which can be fatal even when the dose is small. It is likely to cause kidney failure within several days. Crocus, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, rhododendron and some other plants trigger vomiting, diarrhea and by no means should be present in the cat’s garden.
Comparison Table Of The Ways To Keep Cats Away
|physical barrier|| |
the most effective method; a fence can be made from diverse materials which have their advantages and disadvantages (metal fence is the most durable; wooden one is the most compatible with the garden landscape while the plastic one is the cheapest option
|metal and plastic ones mar the appearance of the garden; wooden fence is pricey||10|
|physical barrier||an easy and simple way of protecting flower beds and vegetable gardens; it is less expensive than the installation of fencing||is not suitable for large gardens as it will not look attractive; may not resist animal pressure||8|
|physical barrier||metal is more solid than plastic; an effective solution; a cat will be discouraged both from digging and entering the protected area; the structure does not hamper the plants’ growing||may not be attractive in large-size gardens||10|
mulch / pinecones
|physical barrier||does not involve further expenditure; a natural solution||cannot be fixed strictly to the ground||10|
creating the cat garden
|habitat modification||additional decoration of the garden; safe for cats; does not require constant human participation||does not keep cats away from the places where they have already got used to urinate||9|
removing debris, source of water, food
|habitat modification||reduces attractiveness of the area to feral cats; enhances the sanitation level in general||does not provide a tangible effect without implementing a comprehensive approach||9|
TOP-9 Products To Keep Cats Away
Below, you will find TOP-9 products to keep cats away, each of which can be a preferable one depending on the purpose of use and the problem you have faced. The spray based on natural ingredients deter cats by diverse odors while an ultrasonic device emits frightening sounds perceived by animals only. Five kinds of barriers have been covered in our review: a mat with spikes which keeps pets away but does not hurt them, a mulch which benefits plants, a bird netting mesh designed to cover trees, shrubs and vegetable beds, and a netting which can become a viable substitute for a traditional fencing. But a hardware cloth normally used as a chicken wire has turned out to be the most popular with Amazon customers.
Cat Repellent Spray with 4 Herbal Scents
This spray is commercially available with diverse natural ingredients including rosemary, peppermint, mint, and thyme, which odors are supposed to be disliked by cats. The product covers about 1,000 square feet which is enough to protect an average-sized garden from these vigorous animals. When treated with this spray, an object or a plant is perceived by cats as if it was a rosemary or mint.
This Cat Repellent Spray can be applied both indoors, for example, to furniture in the rooms or to attics and basements, and outdoors, to trees or plants in the garden, as well as inside a garage and hangar. Another advantage of the product is that it is based on natural products and does not contain chemical ingredients which can pose a risk to the human health or your pets. Apart from that, the product can be easily applied to eatables, nor does it have a repulsive smell to humans, on the contrary, it gives out a pleasant odor.
The product rates 3.1 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.com, with 32% of the customers giving it just 1 star. Some of the users say that the product works just for few days while others claim that the spray is effective given the absence of toxic ingredients. Apart from managing cat behavior, some homeowners have attained positive results in controlling racoons, squirrels and skunks.
Price: ~$15.95 Check the current price
This device has turned out to be a highly popular product with Amazon users, with 85% of the customers giving it five stars. This is a multi-purpose product as it targets not only cats but also dogs, skunks, deer and rabbits. What you need is to tune it in accordance with who a target is. However, scientists do not recommend relying heavily on ultrasonic devices as their efficiency has not been proven yet.
The manufacturer claims that the coverage of the apparatus is up to 5,000 square feet, what is a significant advantage compared with the spray which we have reviewed above covering 1,000 square feet. Also, this is a good indicator for an ultrasonic apparatus in general since a low range of the impact is considered to be one of the main drawbacks of such kind of devices.
The apparatus functions through emitting an ultrasonic sound which frightens animals, as well as a sonic alarm and strobe lights. At the same time, the device is environmentally friendly and absolutely safe for humans, nor do they perceive these sounds, unlike animals. You may put the ultrasonic apparatus in any place, including the attic or the garage but keep in mind that it should not be placed indoors in case the target is outside the house. The matter is that an ultrasonic sound does not penetrate through the glass and in that case, will not affect the animal. “I bought the green iron garden fence posts and bolted a small piece of oak board to each from which the ultrasonic repellers hang… What I do know is that these little devices have performed above and beyond my expectations and to date have been wonderfully effective,” one of the satisfied customers says.
Price: ~$32.43 Check the current price
Cat Repellent Mat & Fence Spikes
The size of each of the three mats amounts to 19.3 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches. Feel free to use it in deterring cats as the mats’ spikes are made of plastic and will not harm your pet while being effective in a cat control strategy both indoors and outdoors. In addition, you may change its size as it can be easily cut with scissors.
These products rate from 3.1 to 4.3 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.com, with 46% of the users giving Daiso Japans just one star. These customers were not satisfied with the area coverage as the mat protects a small patch of the land and is impractical for large gardens. Even for a medium-size garden, you will have to buy a number of such mats to keep cats away what will result in a significant increase in your spending.
However, many customers see definite advantages in using the cat mats both inside the house and outdoors. “Daiso has done for me a very good job in keeping cats out of an area in my front yard that they use as their bathroom. Should have and will purchase more,” one of the customers wrote. Others have noted that the product effectively keeps cats away from window sills, the car’s engine or in front of the door. Some cat owners claim that the mats work better than chemicals or moth balls and confirm that cats really avoid stepping on this material due to it rough structure.
Price of Daiso Japans Mat: ~$15.19 Check the current price
Price of Cat scat mat: ~$12.99 Check the current price
Price of Cat Repeller Fence: ~$29.99 Check the current price
National Cocoa Shell BLCH001 Blommer Cocoa Shell Mulch
The mulch is made up of the outside shell of the cocoa bean. This brown-colored stuff fits in with the landscape perfectly and does not lose its color over time. When applied, it spreads evenly. One layer of the mulch should be 1-inch thick, no more, otherwise, you might get mold. The package will be sufficient to cover up to 24 square feet. Its advantage is that the stuff is a multi-purpose one and, in particular, benefits the plants which really love it.
The product has scored 4.0 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.com. As for keeping cats away from vegetable and flower beds, the opinions are divided. Some users say that cats ignore the mulch while others share their positive experience in using this stuff for that purpose. One customer claims that it is not the smell that deters cats, but rather the material’s structure: “Cats do not like it but I suspect it is due to the stickiness after it is wetted down,” he noted.
Also, this solution should not be considered as a long-term one and, when initially applied, the mulch does not attract bees which are beneficial insects. Another serious drawback is that the product contains theobromine which can be lethal for dogs, which is why you should either be sure to keep the dogs, if there are any, away from the site, or abandon the idea of implementing this approach in your cat control strategy.
Price: ~$18.23 Check the current price
Dalen BN4 Bird-X Net with 5/8-Inch Mesh, 14 ft x 45 ft
This netting mesh with dimensions of 14 / 45 inches is designed to protect berries, grapes and fruit from all sorts of garden pests including cats. The product is made from polypropylene and has U-V inhibitors. It provides durable protection while not inflicting a damage to birds or animals. Apart from being safe, the netting is easy to use and can cover not only beds and shrubs, but also trees. Moreover, the material is easy to cut so that you can efficiently use one package for a number of plants.
The main drawback is that the netting does not protect roots of the plant from cat’s digging under it. The product is intended to cover only fruit and the top of the plant. So, to make a decision on whether this solution will bring desirable results, first identify what the problem is. However, experimenting is always a good practice. Think about the ways in which the mesh can be efficiently applied. Covering the soil surface instead of plants will be a good option.
The product is very popular with Amazon users, being rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars. An experienced customer recommends using the netting in combination with a motion sensing sprinkler to deter animals. Another customer has come up with an interesting idea: “The netting is perfectly made to stick to every branch. Once it's on, it hard to move again to get to the berries without ripping the bushes apart, so I needed another plan. I decided to buy tall fence posts and drape the netting over them, rather than directly on the bushes,” he wrote.
Price: ~$22.91 Check the current price
Amagabeli Hardware Cloth
This galvanized hardware cloth mesh is designed be used as a fence in the garden to protect trees or chicken runs, as well as a screen placed on doors, gutters, and for many other purposes. The material is durable and rust-resisting as it has double zinc coating. At the same time, it can be easily cut with scissors, if you need to divide it into multiple patches to be subsequently used for different purposes. Its size is 48 inch by 50 feet which is enough to cover a large area or to install a reliable fence. The hardware cloth is widely used to create an enclosure protecting chickens and rabbits from all sorts of predators, such as owls, racoons and cats.
The product has scored 4.8 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.com, with 90% of the consumers giving it five stars. Well, this product seems to have the highest approval rating among all items we have reviewed in this article. “I used about five rolls of this to make a predator proof yard for a small flock of backyard ducks… We buried some to protect from digging predators, and this makes up the walls and a ceiling to keep out hawks,” one of the consumers says.
Price: ~$68.59 Check the current price
Houseables Safety Fence
This is an option of a lightweight netting for the protection of any easily reachable sites in the garden. It can be used as a secondary fence, moreover, the product is a cost-effective alternative for a traditional fence, with the difference that the netting is much easier to be installed and subsequently removed. The length of the material amounts to one hundred feet what allows to create a full-fledged fence embracing a considerable area. The size of the holes is two square inches.
However, keep in mind that without solid supporting structures, this kind of fence can collapse as a result of strong winds or animal activity. For this reason, the netting is recommended to be supported with metal T-Posts or wooden stakes. But even then, the netting will not be able to withstand some kind of pressure, for example, when a big dog is going through it. The seller of the product also admits the material being vulnerable to heavy pressure and notes that some pets can push the thing down. And yet, with the reference to cats, it is unlikely that they can go through the fencing in case it is properly supported.
Another drawback of the product is that these so much needed stakes do not come with it, you should either to purchase them additionally or find something appropriate in your shed. Houseables Safety Fence rates 4.2 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.com. Some customers indicate that the product is perfect as a temporary fence and is easy to handle, others lament that in their view it is too flimsy.
Price: ~$42.84 Check the current price
Products To Keep Cats Away Comparative Chart
Cat Repellent Spray with 4 Herbal Scents
|active ingredients include rosemary, peppermint, mint, and thyme; spray|
Animal Ultrasonic Repeller
Daiso Japan's Cat Mat
Cat scat mat Anti-Cats Network Digging Stopper Prickle Strip
Cat Repeller Fence and wall spikes – strip of 8 (13ft)
Blommer Cocoa Shell Mulch
|active ingredient is shells of cocoa beans|
Dalen BN4 Bird-X Net with 5/8-Inch Mesh
Houseables Safety Fence
Amagabeli Hardware Cloth
|galvanized hardware cloth mesh|