I am often asked how to keep cats away from yards. Cats are unpredictable, so there are few sure-fire cat repellents. But below I consider some of the best approaches known to keep cats away from yards. Broadly speaking, we can label all of these diverse approaches as "cat repellents," since they are all designed to repel unwanted feline intruders from a specific area. But I'll also provide an example of the commercial products more narrowly associated with the label, "cat repellents," namely, products that come in a can and are sprinkled on the ground to keep cats away.
A Cat Repellent for Before You Even Begin
If you haven't planted a flower bed yet, but you anticipate having trouble keeping cats out of your yard, be aware that one of the most effective cat repellents is readily available at most any hardware store: chicken wire.
No, I'm not going to suggest you erect a chicken-wire fence. Instead, lay chicken wire down on top of your soil (or mulch, if you're using mulch in the bed), across the planting bed, before you plant. Why? Because cats disdain walking on chicken wire. Using wire cutters, you'll be able to open up pockets in the chicken wire sufficiently large for installing your plants.
Cat Repellents After the Fact: 10 Ways to Keep Cats Away From Yards
But what if it's too late for the chicken-wire option? Not to worry. The ten cat repellents on which I focus below are all intended for existing garden beds. While on the subject of wire, I'll begin with electric wire fences.
Water: The Ultimate Cat Repellent?
Sometimes, to keep cats away from a yard, you have to think like a cat. Put yourself in the cat's place. Observe cat behavior. For instance, they're pretty fussy creatures, aren't they?
One of the things cats are fussy about is getting wet. Water is "kryptonite for cats." Getting wet seems to be almost a phobia for them. Use that phobia to your advantage in trying to keep cats away from yards.
2. When you catch cats in the forbidden area, you can try hosing them down with a Super Soaker or similar water gun. Such action may reinforce the notion that they are unwanted in your planting bed.
3. But if that doesn't work, you can go hi-tech. Devices such as Scarecrow Sprinklers detect an intruder's presence and fire a blast of water at it.
Thinking like a cat again, another thing we can say cats are fussy about is how something smells. You can use feline fastidiousness to keep cats away from your yard in a number of ways:
Commercial Cat Repellents
4. One of the commercial cat repellents available is a powder called, "Shake-Away." Shake-Away bears the scent of the urine of predators that cats fear, namely, the coyote, the fox and the bobcat. This commercial cat repellent comes in a granular form, which you simply sprinkle around the problem area. The product is advertised as being organic, making it an acceptable option to use around children and pets. Nor will it harm your plants.
Plants That Are Cat Repellents
5. Some plants give off smells that cats dislike. One such plant, Coleus canina, goes by the common name, "scaredy cat plant." As the second term in the Latin name indicates (think "canine"), it is also effective if you have trouble landscaping with dogs. Other plants often recommended for keeping cats away from yards are:
Other Substances That Double as Cat Repellents
6. Try sprinkling "stinky" substances around the problem area, including:
- dried-blood ("blood meal") fertilizer
- mothballs (drop them into a can or jar, cover, and make a few holes in the cover)
- cayenne pepper flakes (but see below)
Note that mothballs are toxic, thus the recommendation that you use them in a covered can or jar. Avoid even this usage if small children will be in the yard and could, potentially, open such a can or jar. Note also that some people caution against using cayenne pepper in this fashion, saying it can be harmful to cats. So if you're an animal lover or tend to be on the cautious side, then save the cayenne pepper to flavor your food!
On Page 2 we'll continue to investigate the problem of how to keep cats away from your yard....