How to Keep Outdoor Cats Away

By Sarah Metzker Erdemir

You may choose not to own cats, but your neighbor’s outdoor cats keep coming into your garden or around your home to dig and spray. Cats spray to mark their territory, and your carefully mulched, loamy garden soil is an attractive toilet for a cat. Other people’s unwanted pets on your property is annoying and can be a source of tension between neighbors. How can you keep their cats out without harming the animals?

Remove any bird or squirrel feeders from your garden for awhile, because these animals attract cats, and cats are notorious for killing songbirds.

Discourage cats from climbing over fences by nailing 2-inch PVC piping along the top edge of the fence. Cats can’t grip the slippery PVC, and this size pipe is wide enough to create an overhang that’s hard for them to climb over.

Nail sheets of tinfoil along the top edge of the fence. Cats dislike the feeling of tinfoil under their feet, and the reflections on the foil scares many cats.

Make flags by taping strips of tinfoil to the tops of toothpicks or garden stakes and stick them into the soil around your garden. This has the effect of scaring cats because of the moving reflections, and it is also an effective deterrent against birds that eat seeds, berries and newly planted starts.

Place ribbed plastic water bottles full of water around your garden, doorway or other places where cats spray or defecate. This also creates moving reflections that scare cats away.

Sprinkle coffee grounds and/or ground-up citrus peels around the areas cats like to go. These all have smells cats don’t like but which aren’t too offensive for people. Be sure to renew whatever scented material you use every few days so it smells strong enough to keep the cats away.

Buy some motion-controlled sprinklers if the cheap, natural methods above are ineffective. Cats hate getting squirted with water. Move the sprinklers around regularly so the cats can’t learn to avoid them.