Cat Proofing Your Garden

Ali's Animal Answers > Posts > Cats > Cat Proofing Your Garden

Dogs and cats are among the most popular pets in Western culture; in the UK dogs are more popular, but in the US cats are more popular. Wherever you live, whether you own a pet or multiple pets or none at all, it’s a lot easier to put up with your owns pets being a nuisance than other peoples pets causing you hassle!

Especially where young children, and proud garden owners, are concerned; wildlife or neighbouring animals using your garden as a litter box is not usually a welcome habit. Cats are notorious for roaming gardens in close proximity to theirs, and marking their territory by urinating and/or defecating to tell other cats and animals in the area that this territory is theirs. However, if you want to let the local cats know that your garden is off limits as part of their territory, and/or as their litter box, there are a few things you can try as cat repellents.

Method #1: Odour Repellents

There are many different odour repellent solutions out there, some of the most common are:

  • Citrus (Fruit Peel or Sprays)
    Reports indicate that this is a good solution, but not necessarily with all cats. Commonly, cats hate citrus; if a cat is chewing furniture for example, a diluted citrus spray is a recommended solution. Citrus Peel or Sprays may be disliked by more than just the cats, but they are not harmful to your plants or you or the cat(s) or any pets you may have. They will, however, need to replenished regularly – spray regularly or put peels out regularly.
  • Lion Faeces (Pellets)
    With no artificial ingredients or any chemicals, that may be harmful to animals, curious children, plants or soil, one application of pellets is said to work for up to approximately 6 months. Even the boldest of the neighbourhood felines, using your garden as a litter box, will not want to cross paths with an apex predator! However, it is not guaranteed to deter all the pesky cats in your neighbourhood, as all animals are individuals (just as we are) and therefore results may vary!
    It is also worth noting that heavy rain can wash these pellets away, so it’s always worth checking if you need to put more out after a downpour!
  • Predator Urine (Granules, Scent Tags or Sprays)
    Much the same as the Lion Faeces pellets, the urine granules or sprays of other predators (higher up in the pecking order than your neighbourhood kitties) is said to deter the pesky pussy cats from marking your garden as their territory.
    The sprays will definitely pack more of a stink to the human nose; wolf urine it is said to smells like hops or cannabis, so the smell may be a factor in picking the predator! Most sprays will also need to be regularly applied, between every 2-3 weeks. Scent tags need to be reapplied every 7-10 days approximately. The granules tend to last around one week; as with the Lion Faeces pellets, these can be washed away with heavy rain, and will need to be reapplied if washed away.
  • DO NOT USE CINNAMON AS A CAT REPELLENT
    This can be very harmful to cats; causing illness and (in some forms) can cause liver failure in cats.
  • DO NOT USE PEPPER AS A CAT REPELLENT
    This can be harmful to cats and other animals, and this should be avoided at all costs.

Method #2: Plants as Repellents

  • Lavender
    It’s said that our feline friends dislike the smell of lavender; I am not convinced by this, as I have sold lavender-scented cat litter many times (one customer said her cat wouldn’t use any litter that didn’t smell like lavender)!
    However, if you have enough lavender plants around the perimeter of your garden (covering any “landing areas” cats may jump down to) may work as a deterrent, as cats do not like leaping into the unknown – i.e. if they cannot see a safe place to land, they likely won’t try!
  • Peppermint
    There are mixed viewpoints on the Peppermint plant as a cat repellent; some say cats hate it, some say cats love it, some say it has no effect on cats! This makes it a bit of a gamble, if you choose to try using the plant to deter unwelcome felines. You may end up with more neighbourhood kitties in your garden than you had in the first place, or it may just have no effect – if it does work, this is good, but there are certainly no guarantees that this plant is effective in deterring wandering cats from your garden.
  • Scaredy Cat
    This plant, allegedly, smells so bad that it will repel cats, dogs, rabbits, foxes (and other similar mammals), away from it.The Scaredy Cat plant is said to have an aroma similar to skunk spray; the scent is said to stick to you if you brush up against it. However, there is no evidence that is does work as a cat (or other animal) repellent; merely gardener’s tales. This plant belongs to the mint family, and attract butterflies and bees, with leaves similar to Peppermint and Spearmint plants. The results seem similar to that of the Peppermint plant – some say the plants work wonders, others say the cats are not bothered by them. Again, no guarantees as to the effectiveness of the Scaredy Cat plant as a cat repellent.

Method #3: Fence (or Wall) Modifications

  • Netting (or Wire Mesh)
    If a cat cannot see a safe way to land, they won’t jump off your fence and into your garden. If you cover sufficient space, from your fence over your garden, with netting, any visiting neighbourhood kitties will be unable to see a safe way to jump into your garden, so won’t. The same applies with getting a foothold – if the netting isn’t supportive enough for them to walk on, they wont try. The main issue with netting on your fence seems to be purely aesthetic.
    Netting or Wire Mesh can also be used to deter cats from specific areas; for example, if you have a vegetable patch or flower patch that the neighbourhood cats seem to like to use as their litter box, covering the area in Netting or Wire Mesh (so the plants grow through them) an few inches up, should stop cats from walking on the area and thus will deter them from using the area as a toilet.
    This can also be used to put up your fence, as it may cause cats to struggle to scale the fence in the first place – however, unless you get your neighbour’s permission, you can only do this on your side of the fence.
  • Anti Cat Spikes
    Designed to be uncomfortable but harmless; they are designed to stop cats wanting to walk on them. Often made from plastic or rubber, with blunted ends, so as to not cause harm to any animals. Mostly, Anti Cat spikes seem to be a good bet as a cat repellent, but they come with no guarantees; some stubborn cats will walk along the spikes despite the discomfort, whereas others may try to walk in between the spikes.
    Installing Anti Cat spikes straightforward and fairly inexpensive, however you will need to ensure that any neighbours that share your fence are agreeable to the fence modifications, before you go ahead with the work. Anti Cat spikes may also reduce the amount of wildlife in your garden too, if they access your garden via the fence!
  • Rolling Fence (or Wall) Toppers
    Something as simple as piping with washing line running through it (or something similar), secured a few inches above the top of your fenceor purchasing a professionally made roller barrier… or buying/constructing a wooden roller for atop your fence… basically something unstable, not harmful, and (depending on your choice of roller) something that doesn’t hinder the aesthetics of your garden. Rollers are difficult for cats to manoeuvre around, and certainly too unstable to get a grip on to easily walk, or pull themselves up onto the fence panel – so they certainly wont be able to get a good footing to jump down into your garden!
    This has also been suggested as a good method of keeping your pet cat(s) in your garden, to stop them roaming where you or other don’t want them.

Method #4: If you can’t beat them… accommodate them!

If you aren’t fussed about cats coming through your garden and doing their business in it, you just want to control where in your garden they use as their litter box, then set up a designated area for this.
Setting up a sandy or wood-chip or litter covered area, with a bit of cover for bad weather (maybe even including cat attracting plants or scents), will hopefully encourage any visiting kitties to use the designated area as a toilet; and not the rest of your garden!


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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