If you’re an animal lover, having animals around is great…until having animals around is not so great.
The friendly neighborhood cat (or roaming stray cat) is a staple of many communities. But feral cats can be a nuisance to other animals or your home and yard. There comes a time when you need to know how to keep cats away.
Or maybe you just weren’t into cats, to begin with. No judgment. We’ll still help you figure out how to get rid of cats who aren’t where they should be!
How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard
Step 1: Cat Prevention, Not Cat Deterrents
Cats do as they please. Perhaps your yard has particularly good areas for cat afternoon sunbathing. Maybe your yard is a hot date spot for cats to hook up.
You can’t really prevent things like that so much as try to keep cats away after the fact.
But if there’s a specific issue, you should address it. Are neighborhood cats tearing into your garbage or digging up garden topsoil?
Try a few preventative methods before moving on to cat repellents. This can help you deter other critters who might not be affected by a cat repellent. (But a few of our best cat repellent picks do work on other animals, too!)
- Keep your garbage cans secured. Avoid overfilling, which leaves the top ajar, and don’t place bags on the ground next to the bin.
- If you have a can that gets knocked down or a lid that gets flung off, consider upgrading to a sturdier bin.
- Cover loose dirt with mulch or landscaping stones. This isn’t a surefire cat stopper, but it cuts off easy access, and cats tend to lose interest. It can keep them out of your dirt and also away from your plants.
- Keep bird feeders away from places the cat can reach. That does, unfortunately, sometimes include trees. Try a staked feeder in the yard instead.
- Likewise, tall bird baths may help keep feathered friends out of claws’ reach.
- If you have a seriously troubling cat vs. bird situation on your hands, take down your feeders. You’ll help the birds stay alive, and in time the cat will realize your yard is no longer a local buffet.
Step 2: Start With Natural Cat Repellent
So, we’ll be honest. Trying to “prevent” a cat from doing something is a little like trying to prevent the weather. Prevention isn’t the most effective method, but it does help make deterrents more effective.
And the next step to keep cats out of yards should be low-impact natural deterrents.
There are plenty of options in this space. The interesting thing about commercial cat repellents is that they’re made with natural ingredients, so you can easily whip up your own concoctions at home and get similar results!
It’s because cats are very scent-driven, and they’re easily deterred by smells they can’t stand. What scents do cats hate?
- Citrus: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit
- Fragrant Herbs: lavender and rosemary
- Mint: peppermint and spearmint
- Spices: pepper, cinnamon, curry
You could place citrus peels, herb and mint leaves, or pepper flakes around the perimeter if you have some. But it’s more convenient to use essential oils and water to make a spray: just combine three parts water to one part oil. If you have garden space, planting some of these scents works great as well.
Finally, there’s also a natural workaround for how to keep stray cats away from non-yard areas.
If your unwelcome kitty visitor scales a fence or wall or alights onto your porch or patio, simply lay down some aluminum foil. Make sure you find a way to attach the foil, fixing it in place.
Cat owners will try this trick to keep their cats off the counters – but it can be just as effective outside.
Step 3: Cat Deterrent Sprays, Ground Cover, and Tech
These are the final steps when losing the no-cat battle, and you’re ready to bring out the big guns. These are foolproof methods for keeping cats out of yards, away from the house, and generally off your turf, even if they’re ready to fight for it as their turf!
First things first: what’s the difference between these deterrents?
- Cat repellent spray is pretty self-explanatory. But they’re well suited to targeting specific areas, especially non-yard sections around the home. You could apply it to trash bins, a porch or patio, or along a fence.
- Ground cover refers to granular or tablet products that you’d sprinkle over or place into the ground. You can use them to cat-proof large swaths of the yard or protect a garden.
- Cat-repelling tech is usually an ultrasonic emitter, a little motion-activated device you place in your yard or near your home. It will blast high-pitched noises to keep cats (and most other animals) away, but it’s too high-pitched for humans to hear at all.
- Another cat-repelling “tech” is the motion-activated sprinkler. Cats still hate water, after all.
Don’t ever use a deterrent that would hurt the cat (like spike mats or strips), nor use a safe one in a dangerous way.
For example, repellent sprays are technically non-toxic. But an active ingredient like capsaicin would cause a lot of irritation and gastrointestinal distress if you sprayed it at the cat itself.
Now you should know everything you need to know about keeping stray cats out of your yard. If there’s any other takeaway you should leave with, it’s that you have to be tenacious. Cats are creatures of habit.
If they’re in the habit of hanging around your property, it’ll take a while before you can dissuade them. Make sure to apply your deterrent liberally and reapply often. In the beginning, you should repeat the application every day or every other day.
As the cat becomes less and less territorial over your space, most repellents recommend weekly reapplication. The same should go for homemade remedies if you think your deterrent has worn off sooner, err on the side of caution.