Even if you like cats (not everyone does, you know!), you probably don't want strays using your lawn, garden, sandbox and/or planters as a litter box. It's stinky, gross and cat feces can carry parasites like Toxoplasma, which is potentially dangerous to humans and deadly for pregnant women and those with a compromised immune symptom. If stray cats are having a field day in your flower beds, you need to know how to keep them out of your yard. Here are a few tips for how to keep cats out of your yard:
Create an Unpleasant Environment
Cats naturally try to hide their waste. For that reason, they like to go and then dig in soft soil—just like in your garden. To deter them, there are several things you can do. First, companion-plant strong-smelling herbs and flowers among your other garden plants. Cats are especially put off by strong-scented rue, lavender and minty pennyroyal. This trick doesn't just keep cats away, either, as these herbs will also repel certain insect pests. You can learn more about companion planting here. You can also use a citrus spray where you don't want stray cats to hang out. Cats don't like the smell of citrus so mixing some orange oil concentrate in water and spraying it around the perimeter of flower or garden beds, porches, or crawl spaces will do the trick. Since orange oil makes a great household cleaner, using it in the kitchen is one way to keep a cat off the kitchen counter, too. Another way to create an unpleasant environment for stray cats is to add things to the soil that cats don't like to dig in. Mulching with pieces of bark and twigs, pine cones, or other prickly plant matter works great. Or, try a cat scat mat. These plastic mats have poky teeth that irritate the cat without harming it.
Put Up Barriers
If you prefer to stay on the offensive side of this game of cat and homeowner, start with barriers. If you have a fence but strays still get in, prevent them from landing on the top of the fence with the Oscillot cat containment system. Designed to keep your cat safe at home, these rolling bars, applied to the top of a fence, will also keep stray cats out. Similar to the Oscillot are fence spikes. These polypropylene strips come in a variety of colors, can be cut to fit and adhere to the top of your existing fence to keep unwanted intruders out.
Use Harmless Weapons
If you don't have a fence, try an ultrasonic animal repeller. Similar to ultrasonic pest control devices which deter mice and insects, these devices work by sending out both high-frequency sound waves and flashing strobe lights that cats hate. These devices repel cats within a 40-foot radius. We all know cats hate water, so try a motion-activated sprinkler. This device detects movement and ejects a strong burst of water up to 70 feet in diameter to scare pesky cats away. A continuous spray setting allows it to do double-duty as a regular lawn sprinkler.
If All Else Fails...
Before you give up, try the TNR method of cat control. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, and Release. If your neighborhood is plagued with feral cats, check with your local Humane Society to see if they have a program in place to make this option affordable. There are some more secrets about strays and rescues in our list of 50 things your veterinarian won't tell you. Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.