I've spent many years dealing with pests and critters in my garden, including stray cats.
Keep Stray Cats Away
As much as we may adore cats, stray and feral felines can be detrimental to your yard if they make a habit of visiting and staying. They can make your yard their personal litter box, attack any pets, and spread parasites and fleas. This article will offer some advice on how to dissuade stray cats from invading your yard.
How to Keep Cats Away From Your Yard
Here are some measures you can take to discourage cats from coming into your yard.
- Remove any food from the yard. Cats are likely attracted to any type of feed in your yard. Avoid feeding any pets outside and make sure any trash with food scraps is properly covered and sealed. Wash any grills to remove the odor of food.
- Create a rough area in your garden. Cats enjoy soft surfaces. Making your garden more prickly could stop them from visiting. Your garden bed could have twigs, pebbles, or chicken wire.
- Block off any shelter. Cats like to find shelter where they can raise their young. Board up any openings in your sheds or garage. You should also cover any opening to any decks or patios.
- Wash down their favorite spots. Cats like to spray to mark their territory. Hosing down the area where they like to congregate will eliminate their odor.
- Set up a security system to scare them. There are lights, sprinklers, and sirens available that are motion-activated. These are very effective at scaring cats away. I have personally used these Orbit sprinklers to get effective results.
Plants That Can Keep Cats Off Your Property
There are some plants out there that can keep cats out of your garden. It is believed that they give off scents that cats dislike. Here are some potential plants you can add to your garden to protect your flowers.
- Coleus canina (Scaredy cat plant)
- Lemon thyme
Natural Cat Repellents
There are numerous things you can put in your yard that can keep feral cats away. All of these are natural repellents that are safe to use.
- Blood meal fertilizer: Cats dislike the smell of dried blood that is found in this fertilizer. It can keep cats away and make the plants in your garden more green and lush.
- Scented oils and herbs: If you don't feel like planting certain flowers, you can purchase dried lavender and rue to spread around your yard. You can also spread oils like eucalyptus, lemongrass, and lavender around your garden.
- Citrus: Cats dislike the smell of citrus. You can scatter orange, lemon, or lime peels in your yard. Citrus-based sprays are also effective.
- Pipe tobacco: Cats dislike the smell of tobacco, so you can spread this stuff around to keep them off your property. You can pick some up at a smoke shop.
- Coffee grounds: Scattering these around your garden can drive away stray cats.
- Predator urine: You can actually pick up the urine of predatory animals at your local garden store. Fox urine is the most common type available. Spraying this stuff in your yard will let cats know that the territory is already occupied by a bigger animal. It is also effective at keeping away other animals like squirrels or rabbits.
Solutions That Worked for Me
- Using sprinklers: In my garden, I noticed that the cats usually showed up right around daybreak, so I set my sprinklers to come on then, and it really helped to keep the cats away. I have since purchased the Orbit sprinklers; they will even chase deer out of your garden or yard.
- A super-soaker water gun: I have also had great success with a heavy-duty super-soaker water gun I purchased. I just sit quietly at the edge of my yard and soak down any cat that comes by. Water works better than anything to keep cats away. Once you soak down a cat once or twice, it won't be back. I set up one of the Orbit sprinklers right beside where I park my vehicles, and I rarely, if ever, have any cat tracks on my vehicles.
- Use a motion-activated sound device and keep food away: It helps to think like a cat to determine why it is coming on your property. If they're attracted to your pond, install either a motion-activated sound device or some sprinklers there. Food is one of the biggest reasons cats and other animals will come into your yard, so practice keeping your environment free of any food source and keep your garbage tightly covered. Your cat problems should go away quickly.
- Be consistent: Don't leave food out sometimes and then freak out when they come to eat. Don't give them mixed messages. After all, cats are not dumb animals, and they will learn where they are welcome and where they are not.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
How Do You Keep Cats Out of Your Yard?
Mary Fitzgibbon on June 18, 2020:
Neighbors have like 10 cats. I have no cats in my house, basement smells like cat urine. They go to the bathroom at the foundation of my house. Tried mothballs, cayenne pepper, some kind of cat repellent. Doesnt work for long.
Donna on May 04, 2020:
.22's work perfectly
Agnes on May 01, 2020:
I am damn tired of stray cats in my entire yard i tried to clean my place and sprinke domestos as the smell is very strong they'll dissappear after two to three weeks they are back again leave stron smelly feases all over even on the bed of my lawn i am tired of flies and i cant even open my kitchen door please help me what to do or what to use as now all different cats come and go new ones as well i dont know what is attra ting them my biggest and most is the urine feases they leave.
Derek on March 28, 2020:
Does Cayanne Pepper do the trick?
F U on March 15, 2020:
Wow, you’re all a bunch of psychopaths. Enjoy rotting in hell.
Joy on March 13, 2020:
These kids are shitting and pissing all over the top of my garage this is the second time I’ve had to have the garage roof place because the stray cats shitting and pissing all over the roof what can I do I would just like to kill them all
Ash on February 28, 2020:
I HATE CATS and am sick of neighbourhood cats that are always in our yard. They ate all of our fish, despite an alarm, and other animals and birds. I have trapped two cats, one domestic and one feral cat. the domestic cat was given to the council and had to be paid for to get back The feral cat was destroyed. trapping cats seems to be the only way to fix this issue but owners are not getting the idea or simply don't care. since trap was used, cats continue to come back and I have chased them off when they are spotted - throwing whatever is available (including a lime which was pleasantly successful).
If people are happy to let their cats roam, they are accepting whatever fate occurs to their animal. And stop with the excuses - 'but they're outside cats'. It's pathetic and ridiculous and shows how incapable you are as an owner. Here's how you do it... SHUT THE DOOR. (or get a dog cos that works too)
psychopaths on February 18, 2020:
Sandy and Adam, are you the couple who killed your own kid and staged that someone kidnapped your kid ?
I could never understand how people can kill their kids, I guess you started by killing their neighbor's cat first. If you don't like cat, you could humanely trap and give it to humane society, no need to show exhibit your serial killer lifestyle.
Graciela lopez on February 02, 2020:
We had a lot of neighborhood cats coming into our yard and having kittens under our deck they didn’t bother us until they started to come up on deck and eating the natural Fauna that was in the area for example cute little lizards and frogs that we enjoyed having. So we got a small animal trap put some food in there and we caught one kitten every couple days and we relocated them far enough that they would not come back. One time we cought the father which was a huge black cat and when we lifted the trap to put it in the car to relocate him he panicked and somehow squeezed out of the trap and he is around the neighborhood making a lot of kittens again and now we have more and more cats around the neighborhood I am looking for a repellent to keep them away from my area.
Pj on July 13, 2019:
The neighbor owns the property next door but doesn't live there. Instead she shows up every day to feed about 12-15 ferral cats. Is there anything I can do to stop this? The chemicals, etc. can be expensive.
I've thought of trapping them for one of the "working cat" programs where they are provided to businesses that use them to eliminate rodent problems.
Any advice on how to trap them?
Adam on June 18, 2019:
Take a tuna can and clean it out. Nail it to a heavy board. Drill a small hole in the can for a string. Tie a small charge to it, such as you would find in a party popper, and run the string through the whole. Fill the bottom of the can with a quarter inch of gunpowder, then cover the top with the tuna. Place the board out and wait for a cat to investigate. Pull the string. Profit
iraida mendez on June 07, 2019:
have used so many things spraying solutions, plants is there anything that sound will keep them away, I do not have food, or any shelter for them, they are all over at 15 of them, and the neighbors feed them but claim they are not theirs, there should be a law that will deter this, instead of us having to spend so money to get rid of them, pls. advise!
ron on May 17, 2019:
if you like fishing go catch a puffa fish be careful as they are poisoness dont touch them take them off the hook usine gloves or news paper put them in a plastic bag take home and freeze them cut up into little pieces and drop them where the cats roam outcome no more cats
Dogs rule! Cats not so much on May 16, 2019:
I have a neighbor whos cat is always in my yard. I also have a dog who has a heart condition and is a senior. The neighbor just puts food and water out for the cat. Never brings it inside. The cat always just roams around wherever and whenever it pleases. She will occasionally yell for it at the top of her lungs. This cat comes to my yard everytime my dog is outside doing their business and gets her all rowled up then it scurries away. Tried to tell the neighbor but she claims that i hate animals. I am at my wits end. I am worried everytime my dog gets stressed out. Going to try these suggestions in both the article and the comment section
Vivian on May 13, 2019:
What i don't understand is how a cat could have come up to my 4th floor balcony?
I work nights and now I'm reduced to sleeping on my couch in the living room because I don't want to wake up at some point to a cat on my window ledge. That would definitely freak me out
TB on April 22, 2019:
Sandy, you are ONE SICK B....!!!!!
Bob on March 13, 2019:
I'm tired of my porch smelling like cat so I got a gun
Cheryl on December 24, 2018:
I love all animals. Each living breathing animal has the right to live HOWEVER, the feral cat population is completely out of control. How many people visiting this site or reading the comments have talked to your local and/or state legislators concerning cat ownership? Most all of us know that the over-population of the cat is due to not having the "pet" cat spayed or neutered and allowing the "pet" cats outdoors to roam and hunt. First of all, spay and neuter should be a law. Period. A law. Cat owners should have to follow the dame rules, regulations, and laws of those who have dogs as pets. Licensing, must be kept on your property or leashed when out doors, and if your pet cat is found running at large it will be subject to pick-up by local animal control officers and owners will have to pay a claiming fee. There is no reason why a pet cat should not have the same restrictions placed on it as a pet dog. I belong to a garden club and I gave a report on bird kills by wind turbines. In the research I found that the NUMBER 1 killer of any/all birds is the cat. They kill hundreds of millions, yes, that's right, hundreds of millions of birds annually. So, although this site is for suggestions to keep cats out off and off of your property, the real solution to the problem is through legislation and the trap/neuter-spay programs to cut down on the feral population. Currently I have one dog but have had a few at a time years ago and have also had a cat or two in my lifetime. I feel for the ferals, it isn't their fault that they're a problem, it is the human being that has created and allowed this to happen. So, consider talking to your county and state legislators and ask them to craft and submit ordinances and/or bills to pass into law that will restrict "pet" cats roaming and also have included that the "pet" cats must be spayed/neutered. It is truly the only way we are going to solve (at least partially) the feral problem. The ferals carry all sorts of diseases and they suffer horribly from those diseases as they slowly die as a result. It seems like an overwhelming problem but we have to start somewhere; legislation will help.
Patricia Grenier on October 15, 2018:
Help me catch the feral cats that defecate every day in my half acre garden. They have given me the horrible parasite toxmossiss and some of its symptons. I have branches, wire mesh,wood lathe and plastic pots everywhere. The cats have figured out how to get around the havaheart traps. What can i do? I couldn't plant seeds because of them. Please is there an organization out there that is against toxmossiss andferal cats? Check out toxmossiss on the webb it is really bad.
Anonymous! on October 01, 2018:
I’m thinking of letting my Siberian Husky out of the dog run when the little devil is in the back yard! That would fix things once and for all!
Ray on September 17, 2018:
I put a bowl of anti freeze out. Sorry but i dont care if your cats die.
John on June 25, 2018:
I love animals & I use to have a cat, a few days a week a lady walks 3 cats off leads approx 10pm 10:30pm & she lets them come onto my property peeing ect.
without harming them what is the best repelant to use to keep them away & also the lady would get put off as her cats won't enter.
Sharon Stewart on June 24, 2018:
I’m sorry, but a super soaker only works if you are standing guard over your yard day and night. I just laid new sod 6 days ago and as of today, we have picked up 15 piles of cat crap. The cats are feral...I will be calling animal control to cage them and take them away. I have spent far too much money to worry about what others may think of my inhumanity.
tess on June 18, 2018:
i have that problem also every morning when i go outside i always see a file of poop in my purch, we live in apartments area and useally the only poop in our place, we tierd of cleaning that cat poop..thats why i gogle to fined out whats the best way to do i hope it works.
al on June 17, 2018:
There is a stray cat that comes and scratches my porch at night! It has scratched about a quarter inch through the wood across a wide area at the top of my porch steps! Suggestions?
Dog lover on June 09, 2018:
Sandy, you are awesome.
theresa on April 25, 2018:
what to use to keep cats away from my house
Hate Cats on March 22, 2018:
We have chicken wire in the flower beds, it doesn't work as the cats just poops right on top of the wire. We have tried so many things to keep the cats out of our yard but nothing seems to work. These cats do not dig to pee and poop, they just go right on top. We have so much poop on our lawn and if you do not keep picking it up on weekly basis it gets gets worse. I do blame the cat owners as they do not have litter box for their cats, they just let them go all over the neighborhood. Also the cats do not get their shots or not even neutered, so every year the cats keep having kittens and the neighbor has about 9 cats. They even pee on our front door, it is so disgusting and they are all over our cars and now we have cat scratches on the cars.
If there is anything we can do to keep these cats out of our yard, I would love to know.
Jon on March 18, 2018:
I use a box non kill trap with tuna or milk catch them and offer to sell them back to neighbor for 500 bucks each if they don’t pay and they never have I relocate cat about 50 miles away
Sick of cat on February 18, 2018:
I do not like these cats, and their owner apparently doesn’t care about them because they always in our yard. Enough is enough. Thanks for the tips, I’m not being bothered with other people animals
Jen on February 03, 2018:
its not the cats its their owners. A responsible owner does not let their animals run or roam freely like cats do. Here's my thoughts if you keep letting your animals run freely pissing and shitting on my property then I have the right to do whatever I need to do to stop it including eliminating the problem however works best and most cost effectively for me And since I am paying for your lack of control over your animal I will use any and all options including poisons sorry folks but keep your freaking animal ALL ANIMALS that you are responsible on your property otherwise you can pay the bill for the physical damage they do to my property
John on January 29, 2018:
We've had over 25 cats between the two of us in our lifetime. Our last two died at 18.5 years old and they were indoor cats.
I HATE PEOPLE WHO DON'T CONTROL their cats. Animal control is worthless even with photos of their cats defecating in our garden. We've used cayenne that cost over $100 - too expensive to keep using it. I have a squirt rifle that scares them but doesn't keep them off. There is chicken wire which should not be our problem - the neighbors put it down - and when I have to clean it up, it's a killer. Most people don't understand - let their cats roam and crap and urinate and we suffer from it.
I spoke to our enemy (she's one of two owners) who laughed that a neighbor told her about one of her cats who craps and urinates over her yard. Simba also tries getting in her house and is persistent (our friend has a cat). Princess left a dent in the top of my car and Simba got stuck in our garage and pissed on a number of items that had to be tossed. If we could move, we would ... we're working on it but we think we
missed that window of selling time.
Mothballs are toxic even though animal control said we could use it. We won't. When we put soil or mulch down, a cat will be there quickly. I stuffed branches in our tree to stop them from climbing their. It looks ridiculous.
If any of you can think of a way to use "heavier" balls to hit the cats (I can't do a sling shot at my age), let me know. I don't blame people for hating outdoor cats but they should focus their anger on the owners. I need something cheap - not a water thing that does off - that works. I will go back to pricker if need be and that looks atrocious, too.
Angry man on January 20, 2018:
I have a major cat problem the neighbours across the road have over 25 cats there always on the road in my front yard shitting everywhere this has been a constant battle as they breed like rabbbits none are desexed or micro chipped the local council is useless why isnt there cat laws to to keep them in side the owners are unaproachable i have tried every thing the only thing that works is my water sprinkler the whole street is pissed off yet the owners still wont do anything next option air rifle silencer and scope cats are a bloody pain in the arse
Sandy on October 11, 2017:
This will probably piss a few people off, but you know what, then we'll all be pissed off together. I HATE cats. Really don't see what they are good for. No personality, no affection (I know, I know, not ALL cats, but most). I can't stand their sneakiness, and the way they climb all over EVERYTHING, including your toilet seat, eewww. Especially ewww if they just climbed out of their toilet. When I lived near the water, I kicked every cat I saw into the river every chance I got (they ALWAYS came back, so chill out if your panties just got ruffled), cats are very good swimmers, they just choose not to because they have no personality and are useless. And what do you think the first thing that comes out of any cat owners mouth that hears my opinion on cats?? "Oh, no, not my cat. You would like my cat. My cats cool. My cat isn't like other cats". GIVE ME A BREAK. Uh, yes, your cat. And yes, I would hate your cat too. And no, your cat is not cool, and yes, your cat is exactly like other cats, it's a cat.
So needless to say, I'm at the end of my rope with the neighbors 3 cats that roam the neighborhood, laying on people's cars, pooping and pissing everywhere, DESTROYING my front lawn that I have been trying to bring back to life after drought season last year. Why should cats be allowed to roam where ever they want? They should have the same exact rules as dogs. Not everyone is happy to see the neighborhood cat and welcome then with open arms.
So although these recommendations are more civil than what way I would really like to go (Big 5, lil Daisy BB shooter) I will attempt a civil way to erraticate these annoying, foul, dirty, selfish, animals.
I truly apologize to any cat lovers who are offended. I live being offended everyday. Wheres my apology or empathy? There isn't any, so carry on. It's just my opinion.
P.S. Now dogs! Completely opposite feelings when it comes to dogs. I adore dogs. Cat people need to give up on the cats and invest their time and love into something that gives you that back.
Oh yeah and another thing, kittens are acceptable, until they grow up. Then they're cats, so I hate them again.
i hate cats on August 25, 2017:
Keep your dam cat in your house or on a lead
how would you like it if i let my dog shit and piss in your garage,yard or garden
Sheila on August 13, 2017:
The Animal shelter said Mothballs are harmful to cats ... Will not Hurt them Buy they hate it it will KEEP them away
Sue on August 08, 2017:
I have 2 house cats, but had a problem lasy year with cats coming in my garden and messing all over the lawn. I bought loads of ground pepper in Aldi and sprinkled on the lawn - this has worked a treat.
I would be mortified if people killed / poisoned cats, please use alternative measures. I would be devastated to lose a pet cat
peachy from Home Sweet Home on October 24, 2014:
i noticed that cats like gardens, where they can poo and urinate, I wish i had cemented my garden
Toni on February 25, 2014:
Thank you for your information on chasing cats off of one's property. I have cats with collars ambushing the wild birds I am trying to keep alive for the winter and I feel any cat in my yard is fair game. But please do not use moth balls in your home or outside because as Thomas mentions, moth balls are highly toxic. They can get into the ground water and poison drinking water and also poison wildlife. Also, any kind of poison used to kill cats can also kill beneficial wildlife. Plus, if caught, you could be sued. I have cats pooping in my garden, too -- it's disgusting. You must blame the owners and not the cat -- the cat is just doing what a cat does. The sharp sprays of water seem to be the best deterrent -- in the summer, I use my hose but it's not always conveniently handy. I'm buying a super soaker ASAP.
Me on February 27, 2013:
Have lavender in my garden but it makes no difference. And I have gravel in my carport and the carport is now used as alitter tray, despite having installed a cat alarm (cat alarm has worked for the past 18 months, but seems they might have gotten used to is somehow).. So am tempted to use poison soon as we are really fed up with the neightbours' cats shitting in our garden!!
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 12, 2012:
I wish I had this hub during my cat problem a few months ago. Voting this Up and Useful.
Isaiah Michael from Wherever God leads us. on February 12, 2012:
Lavender is great my first comment I forgot to put that in we have several lavender plants around our garden
jenniferg78 from Philadelphia, PA on February 12, 2012:
Great info. I wouldn't mind planting some lavender in my yard!
Isaiah Michael from Wherever God leads us. on February 11, 2012:
Well it may be inhumane but anti freeze also works though it kills them. I would only use it in extreme circumstances though. As written you said it best water is great. I have soaked a few cats and laugh as they run away. I had one cat that would comme to the edge of the yard and just sit. It had been sprayed a few times and didn't like it at all.
Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on February 10, 2012:
Thanks for the comments. They are appreciated.
Pamela-anne from Miller Lake on February 10, 2012:
Good info for us that are trying to expand our green-thumbs and want our gardens to grow without the overflow of stray cats wandering amongst our flower-beds!
Shasta Matova from USA on February 10, 2012:
This is good information for keeping feral cats out of the yard. My neighbor cats come over to use my property as a litter box. I have tried spreading coffee grounds around the yard, and that does work to deter them, but I have to keep putting them out to keep the coffee smell strong.