Repel Unwanted Cats With These 5 Household Sprays

Why You Might Want to Deter Cats

There are several reasons why you may want to deter cats from your property, including if you or a family member has allergies to cats, you don’t want cats digging in your garden or using it as a litter box, or you are tired of cleaning up cat waste. Cats can also cause damage by scratching furniture or urinating in inappropriate areas. Stray and feral cats may fight with owned pets, spread fleas or illness, or get into trash. While cats have a right to exist, it’s understandable to want to dissuade them from making your yard or patio their hangout or bathroom.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, around 10% of the population is allergic to cats. Allergies can cause symptoms like wheezing, sneezing, and itchy eyes when exposed to cat dander or saliva. Keeping cats off your property can help reduce allergen exposure.

Cat feces carries parasites like toxoplasmosis that can infect other animals and contaminate soil and water. Cat urine also kills grass and leaves stains and odors. No one wants their garden or yard turned into a litter box. Blocking access can help preserve your landscaping.

Humane Ways to Keep Cats Away

There are several humane ways to deter cats from your yard or garden without harming them. Using repellent sprays made with natural ingredients like citrus, peppermint, or lemongrass can help make an area smell unpleasant to cats ( Spray these around the perimeter of your yard, on fences, or anywhere cats tend to frequent. The strong smells overwhelm their senses and cause them to avoid those areas.

Motion activated devices like sprinklers or ultrasonic repellers can also help startle cats away whenever they are detected. Place these in key areas that cats pass through like gardens, patios, or walkways. The sudden noises and water deter them without harm. Just be sure to bring devices like this indoors during cold weather.

Blocking access to areas cats are getting into is also effective. Use fencing, rocks, wood chips, or thorny plants around gardens and landscaping. Cover exposed dirt areas with large rocks, pavers, or chicken wire since cats dislike digging here. Close off access under porches, sheds, decks, or any outdoor structures cats are sheltering under. Be sure to search for kittens before sealing off any areas.

Smell and Taste Deterrents

Cats have a strong sense of smell, so there are many scents you can use to deter them. Citrus scents like orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime are very effective cat repellents. You can spray citrus oils or peel essential oils around your yard or patio. Cats strongly dislike the smell. Lavender and eucalyptus oil can also work as deterrents. Other scents cats don’t like include mint, cinnamon, garlic, vinegar, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, and cayenne pepper. Make your own spray by mixing any of these scents into water and spraying it wherever cats frequent 1.

There are also commercial cat deterrent sprays you can buy that contain mixtures of these smells cats hate. Look for sprays made with natural ingredients if you want to avoid chemicals. Apply these sprays anywhere the cats go – around the perimeter of your yard, on fences, around garden beds, etc. Reapply after rain. The strong smells overwhelm the cat’s sensitive nose, making them avoid those areas.

Physical Deterrents

Physical barriers are one of the most effective ways to deter cats from certain areas around your home. These deterrents physically block cats from being able to access the location. Some options include:

Motion-activated sprinklers – These sprinklers detect motion and spray water when a cat comes near. The surprise spray of water will startle cats and deter them from entering that area again. Place them around gardens, yards, or any outdoor area cats seem to frequent. Just be sure the water doesn’t spray where it could cause damage.

Spikes/mats – There are special plastic spike mats or strips that can be placed in areas you want to keep cats away from. The spikes are dull, not sharp, but uncomfortable under paws. Place them around garden beds, on ledges, or anywhere cats are unwanted.

Wire mesh – Chicken wire, garden netting, or other plastic lattice can be used to block access, such as sealing up crawl spaces, vents, or underneath porches cats are getting under. Make sure there are no sharp edges. Secure mesh well so cats cannot force their way under or through it.

Check out this source for more on effective physical cat deterrents. Using physical barriers to make areas inaccessible is often the simplest way to keep cats from returning.

Trying Multiple Approaches

When trying to deter cats, using a combination of different repellents often yields the best results. Cats can become accustomed to a single deterrent over time, but switching up repellents keeps them guessing. Consider layering multiple smell, taste, and touch deterrents to create an unpleasant environment that drives cats away.

For example, you could spray areas with a homemade citrus or mint spray according to this WikiHow guide. Then place physical deterrents like cat repellent mats, foil, or plastic sheeting along common cat paths and access points referenced on this ColorGlo blog. The combined smell, taste, and touch deterrents create a multilayer cat defense.

Continue rotating between different homemade sprays and commercial cat repellents. Change locations of physical deterrents every few days. The variety will help prevent cats from acclimating and ignoring the deterrents.

Focus on Blocking Access

One of the most effective ways to keep cats away from certain areas is to focus on physically blocking their access. This is especially important for yards, gardens, sandboxes, and any other outdoor spaces you want to protect. According to How To Keep Your Cat From Going Under the Bed, blocking access helps prevent unwanted digging, urination, and defecation from neighborhood cats.

There are several DIY options for blocking a cat’s path such as securing chicken wire or lattice along the base of a fence. You can also place large rocks, wooden boards, or thorny branches in trouble spots. For doorways or crawl spaces, try wedging in a piece of cardboard or Plexiglass cut to size. Motion-activated sprinklers, blowing air, or noise deterrents can also help startle cats away.

The key is making it difficult and inconvenient for a cat to cross into the area you want to protect. Be persistent and creative with barricades since curious cats will look for any possible entrance. Checking for gaps or damaged areas regularly is also important to maintain an effective blockade.

Avoid Harming Cats

While wanting to keep cats away is understandable, it’s important to avoid methods that are inhumane, unethical, or illegal. Methods that harm cats, either physically or psychologically, should be avoided. For example, some deterrents that can physically harm cats include sticky substances like glue boards or greased rakes that trap cats, sharp objects that may cut paws, and poison.

Using methods that inflict pain or distress on cats should also be avoided, even if they don’t physically injure them. This includes methods like electronic shock devices, ultrasound devices that emitfrequencies cats find uncomfortable, loud alarms, or spraying the cat in the face with water. These methods can be considered inhumane and even abusive treatment.

Aside from ethics, intentionally inflicting harm or abuse on cats can cross legal lines and be considered animal cruelty in many places. For instance, poison aimed at harming or killing cats is illegal. Before employing any deterrent method, research its potential effects on cats to avoid methods that could cause harm.

The most ethical approach is to use humane deterrents that make areas unpleasant or uncomfortable for cats to be in, but don’t actually inflict pain or injury. There are many effective options that encourage cats to avoid an area without abusing them.

Preventing Future Visits

The most effective way to keep cats from returning is to make deterrents part of your regular landscape maintenance. Just like you routinely trim bushes or mow the lawn, check for signs of cats and refresh deterrents regularly. Cats are creatures of habit, so if an area has been a favorite spot, they will likely try to return. Stay vigilant and reapply deterrent sprays every 2-4 weeks, especially after rain or snow. Replace plastic carpet runners or shake up pellets if they look undisturbed. Check for flattened areas or paths where cats enter your yard and focus extra attention on deterring those access points. A little time invested routinely will go a long way in preventing future unwanted cat visits.


When to Call for Help

While trying to deter cats from your property, there may come a point when you’ve exhausted all humane DIY methods and the cats persist. If a group of cats refuses to stop coming onto your property even after trying numerous deterrents, it may be time to call in experts.

Specifically, you can contact your local animal control department or humane society for assistance. Animal control can humanely trap stray and feral cats on your property and remove them. Often these cats will get checked for a microchip and may be adoptable. For cats without identification, animal control may work with local rescue groups to find barn homes for feral cats where they can live peacefully.

Calling animal control should be a last resort after trying various deterrents. Trapping the cats and removing them is extremely stressful for the animals. But if you’ve made reasonable efforts to deter them humanely and the cats continue to be a nuisance, animal control can help while still treating the cats humanely.(1)

The experts at animal control know how to handle cat overpopulation humanely and effectively. Don’t try trapping cats yourself, as you may injure them or contribute to the problem. Calling animal control allows the professionals to manage the situation in the most humane, ethical way.

Being a Responsible Neighbor

When trying to deter cats, it’s important to be mindful of your neighbors’ pets. Here are some tips for keeping cats away while still being respectful:

  • Avoid using harmful chemicals or traps that could injure any animal. Stick to humane deterrents like citrus smells, mulch, or motion-activated sprinklers.
  • If using a motion-activated sprinkler, aim it to only spray your own property. Don’t soak your neighbor’s yard.
  • Place deterrents only around the perimeter of your yard or garden. Don’t infringe on shared spaces.
  • Talk to your neighbors first and explain your concerns. They may have ideas or be willing to keep their cats indoors.
  • Make sure any deterrents don’t disturb neighbors with sound or light. Place them discreetly.
  • If your neighbor has an outdoor cat colony, work together on humane deterrents so the whole area stays cat-free.
  • Follow local ordinances regarding cat management and don’t take drastic measures like trapping cats.

Being courteous and staying within your own property boundaries will keep the peace with neighbors. With some creativity, you can find effective deterrents that make both yards cat-free zones.

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