The Best Cat Deterrent is a $30 Motion Sensor


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My cats are annoying. I love them both, but since we moved into a new home a couple months ago, disrupting their routine — mid-afternoon napping — they have treated extra square footage as an excuse for a new ferality. They have bizarre new habits. The inquisitive one, Lord Vader, has claimed the kitchen for his own. In particular, he’s claimed the sink. Unable and unwilling to put a cat deterrent system around the kitchen area, I’ve had to think outside the litter box.

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Having watched many episodes of My Cat From Hell featuring cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, I remembered how clicker sticks were used to train and reward cats that lacked discipline. That’s when I discovered the best cat deterrent ever: a $30 motion sensor.

Of course, nothing in life is as simple as that. The motion sensor helped me to convince Lord Vader that those were not the dishes he was licking for, but my solve also involved a bag full of treatos, and a smart display. Here’s how I did it.

Ring Alarm Motion Detector attached to cabinet used as a cat deterrent.
Ring Alarm Motion Detector attached to cabinet used as a cat deterrent.

At first, I installed a Ring Alarm Motion Detector on the cabinet nearest to the sink and set it to emit a distinct tone throughout the house whenever it was triggered. When I heard the tone for the first time, I scrambled to catch Lord Vader in the act. Being a fast learner, he jumped down whenever he heard my heavy footsteps — the yelling probably helped. Pleased by this progress, I gave him treats.

I also quickly realized that I had trained myself to give my cat treats on command. Progress, sure, but I found myself under Imperial command, which was less than ideal.

Image of Ring Alarm Motion Detector against white background.
Image of Ring Alarm Motion Detector against white background.

Ring Alarm Motion Detector (2nd Gen)

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Price: $29.99

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$28 at walmart

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$30 at best buy

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Key Specs:

  • 250-foot range

  • Mounts to room corners or flat walls

  • Powered by two AA batteries

That’s when I recalled one of Amazon Alexa’s most popular features, drop-in, which allowed me to instantly start a video chat on my Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) using my phone. I placed my Echo Show 10 on the same side of the sink where Vader normally jumps onto the counter, since the other side of sink was already partially blocked by a dish rack. Rather than trucking down the stairs (and back up), I leveraged Alexa’s Drop-In feature to show up (not in the flesh) on the smart display.

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) placed on top of kitchen counter.
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) placed on top of kitchen counter.
Curious black cat near kitchen sink.
Curious black cat near kitchen sink.

The first time I implemented this updated cat deterrent system, Lord Vader didn’t quite know what to make of the comm link and largely ignored my protestation (boring conversation anyway). But that changed over a couple of weeks.

My cat deterrent system worked. It has now been months with zero incidents. It strikes me now as odd that my first instinct wasn’t to find a tech solution, but it’s not necessarily reflex to solve furry problems with automation. Maybe it should be. Maybe the original Lord Vader was right to send Probe Droids down to Hoth in search of Wookiees and Tauntons.

Closeup of Ring Alarm Motion Detector attached to cabinet used as a cat deterrent.
Closeup of Ring Alarm Motion Detector attached to cabinet used as a cat deterrent.

While this particular setup requires you to have an existing Ring Alarm Base Station system in order to use the motion detector, there are many other motion sensors you can look at to achieve the same results. In most instances, they require dedicated hubs (sold separately) in order to use them.

For example, you’ll need a Philips Hue Hub to use the $58 Philips Hue Indoor Motion Sensor. Likewise, the $21 Aqara Motion Sensor requires an Aqara Hub for it to work.

Image Philips Hue Indoor Motion Sensor 2022 Version and packaging against white background.
Image Philips Hue Indoor Motion Sensor 2022 Version and packaging against white background.

Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor

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Price: $67.20 $56.76

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$45 at best buy

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$40 at home depot

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Image of Aqara Motion Sensor P1 and packaging against white background.
Image of Aqara Motion Sensor P1 and packaging against white background.

Aqara Motion Sensor P1

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Price: $24.99 $21.99

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$21 at home depot

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$25 at adorama

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