Cat Deterrents and RepellEnts That Work
Cats are very territorial and when introduced to an area, will try to “own” land by displacing other cats. This is usually attempted by prowling, intimidation, hissing and as a last resort, by fighting.
The cats within a given area then form a hierarchy, it’s not unusual for one cat to roam a specific area at a certain time (ie early evening) only to give way to another cat later on during the night.
The relationship between cats and the land they roam on is complex, constantly evolving and barely understood. There is one thing is for sure though; putting up a fence or hedge won’t stop a cat from coming into your garden and unlike dogs, cats can’t be taught to stay out of an area.
The good news is that there are several cat repellent products you can buy which will stop cats doing certain things. For example, digging in flowerbeds, climbing fence posts or traversing fence panel tops.
By making your garden less attractive to cats, they should spend less time in your garden.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop every cat from coming onto your property, research has shown that some cat deterrent products can reduce cat activity by over 30% and by using several products, you can expect even better results.
Explore our recommended cat repellent products and suggestions below:
Wall, Fence and Post Spikes
Wall and fence tops are often used by cats to not only traverse from one garden to another but also as a perch where they can keep an eye on the nearby territory.
These plastic spikes are affordable, humane and easy to fix in place, just screw them down into the top of the fence or wall.
If you’ve noticed a cat using a fence post to gain access to the fence top, you can easily secure these cat deterrent spikes vertically along each side of the post.
Likewise, they can also be secured to the sides of brick walls at strategic locations where cats are likely to climb.
You may need to monitor cat movements after installing these and then make adjustments as cats are very smart and quite capable of solving simple puzzles and creating workarounds.
“No Dig” Soil Spikes
The team here at DIY Gardening often plants new flowerbeds, fruits and vegetables etc. After turning the soil over and adding compost we are always paid a visit by a cat who leaves us a little present, usually deposited in a shallow hole.
To deter cats from digging and pooping in your flowerbed or vegetable crops, try covering the area in “do dig” soil spikes.
These plastic spikes are cheap and easy to lay, you can also use them again should you redesign the garden at a later date.
While they might not be practical for large areas, they are certainly suitable for small flowerbeds, pots and areas set aside for vegetables.
These spikes are humane in that while the cat will find them uncomfortable they won’t cause any harm.
With a little creativity, you can also use these spikes to deter cats from climbing tree posts.
Ultrasonic Cat Repellents
Research by the RSPCA revealed that ultrasonic cat repellents can reduce the number of cats entering an area by 32%.
Unfortunately, this data also suggests that 68% of cats don’t respond to ultrasound cat repellent products at all.
The device uses a motion detector which then activates an ultrasonic emitter. Only cats, foxes and some dogs can hear the noise. The frequency is outside the detection range of human hearing.
While we do recommend these products, they only help to reduce, not entirely prevent cat intrusions.
In our experience, you should also relocate the devices every week or so, otherwise, the cats get used to them and are no longer startled.
Motion Activated Repellent Sprayers
If you want to startle unwanted animals that enter your garden, this is by far the best product we’ve tested.
The motion detector has a dial so you can easily adjust the sensitivity; target larger animals such as foxes or smaller pests such as cats.
Once activated, this device will detect movement and then spray a jet of water at 260° which is more than enough to scare away animals.
You’ll need to replace the 9-volt battery every three to four months and this sprayer only works if you have good water pressure – you’ll also need to attach it to a hose.
The Scarecrow motion-activated sprayer takes only a few minutes to set up and protects your garden day and night.
Unfortunately, the device cannot tell the difference between welcome guests such as humans and dogs and pests such as cats and foxes. You may get a little wet setting up this product and if you have a dog, they’ll either love it or hate it.
Use sprayers like this in parts of the garden you don’t use often, it’s not a product you can deploy near the front door or any other area where humans use frequently.
There are several products you can choose from. The Scarecrow is one of the better ones but will only work with good water pressure and you may need to upgrade the connectors which may leak slightly (Hozelock connectors are available in most DIY stores).
Scented Cat Repellent Products
Cats’ noses are incredibly sensitive and their sense of smell is around 14 times more powerful than that of humans.
Unsurprisingly, there are scents that can deter cats from digging and poking around specific areas.
Cats dislike citrus fruits, pepper and even lion’s dung – all of these are scents added to pellets, powders, sprays and fertilizers that you can use in your garden.
We’ve found that these products work best in small areas such as vegetable plots and plant pots.
It’s unlikely that these scented products will work on large areas such as entire gardens.
Use scented cat repellents as a complementary product alongside physical deterrents such as spikes and sprayers.
Cat Repellent FAQs
Can I take legal action against a cat owner?
Cats have a right to roam and unlike dogs, their owner is not expected to keep cats under strict control.
There is no law that punishes cat owners for cat fouling or trespass. There are, however, several nuisance and anti-social behaviour laws that can hold cat owners responsible for aggressive behaviour and damage to property.
Answers to more cat-related legal questions can be found here.
What's the easiest way to scare a cat from my garden?
We’ve found motion-activated water sprayers to be the most effective product, they scare cats and foxes who rarely return to the garden
Can lion's dung put off cats?
We’ve tested products that contain lion’s dung, a strong scent that reportedly scares off cats, and the results so far have been inconclusive. We are not recommending lion dung products as cat repellents at this time.
Do sonar or ultrasonic cat repellents work?
Research has revealed that after deploying garden ultrasonic cat deterrent devices, cat activity reduced by around 32%. Many cats, but not all, will be deterred by such products.
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