Keep cats away
Photo by Paul Watson
As a person who loves animals and cats I don't need to keep cats away. But I understand the sentiments of people who do. And a reasonable number of people do want to know the best way to keep cats away. It seems to me that the major reasons are (a) they don't like cats or plain hate cats and (b) they have a garden and feel that cats cause damage and might go to the toilet in their garden, which they don't like and (c) some people may have some pets that they are fearful might be harmed by a domestic cat or (d) they feel that domestic cats spread disease.
For me and any decent person the underlying criteria at all times is to act in a humane way vis-a-vis the cat and a neighborly way in respect of other people living nearby. We can usually achieve much more this way.
At the outset there is the issue as to whether the cat that encroaches on our territory is a neighbors cat, a stray cat or a feral cat. A stray cat is a domestic cat that has decided to leave the home of the person keeping the cat. A feral cat is one born wild but her/his parents might have been a domestic cat living with people.
It is pretty difficult to tell the difference and one's actions depend on distinguishing between the three types of cat unless we simply change our mentality. If we are dealing with (a) above one bit of lateral thinking would provide a solution that says that the best way to keep cats out is to learn to like cats. These people wouldn't then need to keep them out. That is probably too simplistic. But if a person has learned to dislike cats (and it is a learning process) then they can equally unlearn in time what has been learnt. It is the effort that is off putting and why bother anyway.
A useful advance on learning to like cats is then to keep a cat. This will probably provide the best deterent for another cat to enter your space. This is because cats are territorial and your new cat will/might/should see off the stranger. That said this method is not completely fool proof as cats sometimes share space on a time share basis. This is likely to happen when territory is scarce.
If we are dealing with a neighbor's cat, another bit of lateral thinking would be that the best route is to get the person keeping the cats to build an enclosure. In other words the cat keeper takes charge and does the work to keep cats away from other people. This must be the best solution but it will rarely be carried out. Although I think enclosures really are the best solution for all concerned including the cat keeper. Cat enclosures bring that precious commodity peace of mind. It is difficult for a cat lover (in Europe in any event) to keep her cat imprisoned permanently indoors. But a simple and fairly inexpensive cat enclosure gives our cat a safe space outside to get the juices going.
If I lived in a house with a young cat I'd definitely build a good sized cat enclosure as it completely solves so many problems. Another advantage is that there is less burden on the cat keeper to entertain her cat. And the neighbors will love you for it. Or, the neighbors should provide a very attractive area in their garden where their cat(s) can go. Cats will migrate to the first and best available spot. Better still is this thought. If a neighbor's cat is going to the toilet on your garden it probably means that the neighbor is not keeping a good quality and frequently cleaned litter tray for her/his cat(s). Ask about that and help the neighbor to sort that out. Cats will automatically use a litter tray and it will keep cats away from other people's gardens.
However, there are all kinds of reasons why neighbors do not respond well to requests to restrain their cats or take action to modify behavior. The first is that when you ask other people to do something like stopping their cats trespassing on your property is that they will often these days become aggressive. That could result in a neighbor dispute; the last thing one wants as there is no cure for a neighbor dispute other than moving. In referring to the cat enclosure idea above, maybe one way of approaching your neighbor with the cats about how to keep cats away from your property is to offer to contribute to a cat enclosure and sell the idea as a good one for the neighbor. This might be a bit fanciful however as the world is not sane enough really.
That leads to another solution - moving to a place where there is less likelihood of cats being around. Where might that be? In the country I guess. This would preclude the need to keep cats away.
What about devices that emit sounds that frighten off cats? Forget them, they don't work in my opinion and my experience. I tried using one to stop my cat going towards the road - no luck. I think we can dismiss these devices. Note: some of the better ones may provide some deterent.
If we know the cat is a feral cat we should be allowed to take the cat (if we can catch her/him) to a rescue center. The same would apply to a stray cat. See catching a stray cat. This action may however lead to the death of the cat (see feral cats). That might not concern the person who wants to keep cats out but it would concern me.
People say that shooting water at a cat can keep cats away. This might be the case but will it do the trick permanently? See bulleted list below for a sophisticated modification to this method.
After that ramble here are some ad hoc ideas gleaned from the internet to keep cats away:
- a plant called Coleus Canina (Scardy Cat) can deter cats - don't know if it works
- cats only go to the toilet on earth. Plant ground covering shrubs and splikey plants and lawn; this leaves no free earth for a toilet to keep cats away
- cat repellent powder (doesn't work??)
- pepper in the soil (will it wash away? is it effective?)
- a cat will go back to a place she has used as a toilet so clearing away the area will help
- a motion sensor attached to a garden hose
- plant geraniums, marigolds and petunias cats dislike these
- scatter citrus peel and/or onion skins around the garden (not sure about this one)
- use "Silent Roar" cat repellent - Google the term and go from there
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