Do cat repellents work?
How do I stop cats from using my garden as a litterbox?
Tell me how to keep cats out of my garden.
These are common questions of concern to all gardeners, but is there a real answer?
The first line of defense is making sure that your lawn boundaries are secure.
Block any gaps in your fence in order to deny low level access. But cats can jump
very high, so string a taut wire or string approximately six inches above the top of your fence to
prevent them from jumping over it.
Once a cat is actually inside your garden, many people say that the best cat repellent is a dog who will
quickly run off any feline invader. If you aren't a dog lover you will have to resort to more passive
methods like a good cat repellent.
Since cats enjoy lying on freshly dug soil you should place mulch on your borders so that no bare soil is left exposed.
And be sure to cover your seed beds with wire netting or twigs arranged as a barrier.
Fit plastic guards around the trunks of young trees to protect them against use as a scratching pole.
You should also cover your garden pond with netting to protect your fish.
Cats are generally known to dislike water so a well aimed bucketful or a squirt with the hose will certainly make an intruder run. After one or two dousings it may learn the lesson and stay away.
To protect plants and borders both mothballs and citrus are said to be effective deterrents. Place the mothballs, orange peel or lemon rind in the borders.
Alternatively, you can spray cloths with orange scented air freshener and place them around the plants you
want to protect. Other known effective cat repellents are mustard oil, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil,
and eucalyptus oil.
Certain herbs are also said to deter cats. In particular rue, but not catmint which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant which is marketed by one merchant as a cat repellent.
Your local garden center or hardware store should have several cat repellent products on sale. These range from electric water sprinklers and ultrasonic devices to sprays and granules.
Motion activated sprinklers act in the same way as a burglar alarm using an infra red detector. When
a feline enters the area covered by the detector, the sprinkler shoots out a jet of water to scare
it away. After one or two encounters with the jet, most cats will learn to avoid the area.
Ultrasonic devices emit a high frequency sound which is annoying to cats (and dogs) but is not audible to humans. There are various different models some of which operate continuously and others which have an infra red detector and only emit a pulse of sound when the cat triggers the device.
To be successful you need to ensure that the model is powerful enough to cover the area you wish to protect. In addition make sure that the sound frequency is designed for larger animals since some models are intended to deter insects and so would be no use for cats.
So, in summary, your first priority should be to secure your boundary fences. Then you have the whole selection of suggested cat repellents ranging from homemade recipes to expensive commercial gadgets.
I suggest that you try the orange peel and prickly twigs for a start. If you are
there when the intruder appears, try the bucket of water or hose. Even if you miss, the shock may be a sufficient deterrent. If these do not do the trick, then you may have to consider the commercial alternatives.
About the author:
Hugh Harris-Evans is the owner of The Garden Supplies Advisor.
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