How to get rid of cats in your yard

Stray cats, or kitties owned by your neighbors, will often designate your yard as their territory – and often use it as their personal toilet! So how can you keep cats out of your yard and how do you get rid of them when they're causing trouble?

Strange cats are often not welcome in your yard, but how can you get rid of them?
Strange cats are often not welcome in your yard, but how can you get rid of them?  © 123RF/lesichkadesign

Cats are remarkably cute, and make a great pet, but can also be a pain in the backside of neighbors and those who aren't keen on these fluffy fellows.

Whether it's because of unwanted droppings, the destruction of flowerbeds, or personal dislike, if you want to know how to get rid of cats, here's how to keep them away – tastefully, humanely, and kindly.

In this cat guide, TAG24 will take a look at how to get cats out of your yard.

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How do you keep cats away? What's behind a cat's destructive habits, and how can you counteract them? Let's take a look.

Why to keep cats away

There are many valid reasons why some garden owners simply don't want cats inhabiting their space. Cats will often dig up the garden when going to the toilet, will hunt in their yard, and strays in particular can spread various diseases and spark allergies.

Some of these issues can pose significant dangers to pregnant women, unborn babies, and even small children. Cat feces can also ruin the soil in a garden and make it hard to put together a pretty and organized yard. Garden owners may also find small "gifts" such as dead mice and birds, and no one's a fan of finding a dead animal in their space.

Roaming kitties can also be a threat to people's pets, especially rabbits, guinea pigs, and other rodents. It is very reasonable that a pet owner doesn't want to see their buddy murdered by an overly-adventurous feline.

It is perfectly reasonable to want cats kept out of your yard, and perfectly possible to get rid of a cat that has entered your space. You just need to take care that the cat is not harmed in the process.

How to keep cats out of your yard

Cats are creatures of habit, with fixed routines, territories, and a multitude of favorite spots. If a kitty has decided that your garden and yard is the perfect pooping place, or perhaps that there are some great snoozing spots, it will likely return time and time again, repeating their bothersome behaviors.

It is perfectly okay to break these habits, but this must be done via methods that are harmless and simply remove the incentive for feline invaders. Here's how you can get rid of cats from your yard.

How to get rid of cats with a "cat scare"

Cats will fight, or they will run away as quickly as possible. When faced with a threat, their first response is to try and get away from that threat. As a result, one of the best ways you can keep cats away from your yard is via an electronic device that will deliberately scare them away.

Often triggered by motion detectors, profession cat "scares" generally make an unpleasant ultrasonic sound and flash some kind of light to frighten a nearby kitty. While humans will likely see the flash, they are unlikely to hear the device's sound as it is designed to startle cats, not humans.

Keep in mind, though, that this device will be activated by moving objects. If there are other animals in the yard, or if you have a dog, this might now work. It may even be triggered by wind-induced movements in the branches of trees and the like.

Water repels cats

You should never squirt a hose directly on a cat. This could hurt the kitty quite badly, and scare it to the point that it runs far away without paying attention to its own safety (for example, across the road in front of an oncoming car). That doesn't, however, mean that water can't be an effective deterrent.

Spraying areas close to a cat can scare it sufficiently enough to run away, but won't hurt the poor thing. You can also install sprinklers and have them on regularly, but this is a waste of water. Instead, go to a pet shop and get yourself a motion-sensor-based sprinkler system. It will keep your garden green and the cat away.

Keep in mind: Motion sensors on sprinklers will have the same drawbacks as a motion-sensing cat alarm. Make sure that you understand this, so you don't get surprised when thing turns on for no apparent reason.

You shouldn't spray a cat with a hose, but lawn sprinklers are a good trick to keep them away.
You shouldn't spray a cat with a hose, but lawn sprinklers are a good trick to keep them away.  © 123RF/nilsjacobi

Homemade cat deterrent smells

There are many things that you are likely to already have around the house that work like a charm if you're trying to keep cats away. What you want is something that you like the smell of, but cats hate. On top of that, it's also a great idea to use things that will simultaneously fertilize your garden.

You do need to be careful, though, as many things could also cause harm to your garden. The list we are about to present you with is not exhaustive, and there are other homemade cat deterrents that will scare kitties away via smell, but check that they won't ruin anything or harm the cat before you use them.

Here are a few homemade cat deterrent smells that you could use:

  • Used coffee grounds (additionally works well as fertilizer)
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Menthol
  • Lawn clippings
  • Bark mulch
  • Chili
  • Pepper

You can also buy specific deterrents from pet shops and the like, meant to be scattered throughout your yard. They are often very effective, but also very expensive.

Plants that keep stray or feral cats away

There are a number of different plants that not only look pretty appealing from an aesthetic point of view, but will also keep cats out of your garden. It's a good idea to place them along garden fences and borders, to stop kitties from entering your property in the first place. Whatever you do, though, don't get anything that could cause serious harm to the cat or to your pets.

Here are a few plants that will keep cats out of your yard:

  • Coleus caninus (also known as the scaredy-cat plant) gives off a smell that both dogs and cats really hate
  • Rue
  • Lemon balm
  • Crane's bill geraniums
  • Scented geraniums
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint

This is not an exhaustive list, and there are a number of other plants that cats don't like either. Check out our guide to plants that are poisonous to cats for more information, and to avoid making the kitty sick.

How to eliminate cat attractants

Cats like to catch mice and rodents, remove them to get rid of cats in your yard.
Cats like to catch mice and rodents, remove them to get rid of cats in your yard.  © 123RF/Markovsergei

If a cat keeps coming into your yard to hunt, chill out, go to the toilet, or explore, it probably sees this space as its territory. It feels comfortable there and will continue to come back as it feels that it has the right to do so. As a result, you want to try and remove as many "attractants" from the yard, to stop the cat from wanting to go there in the first place.

Here are the things that should be eliminated from your yard:

  • Food: Take in any food you may be leaving out there, remove any sources of water, and make sure that there is nothing out there that the cat might be munching on.
  • Smells: Cats are particularly fond of catnip and valerian, so if you have any of these (or similar) plants in your yard, remove them. Instead, replace them with the previously mentioned plants the cat won't like.
  • Mice and rodents: If you keep finding rodents like mice and rats in your yard, this could be part of the reason why the cat keeps showing up. Hire an exterminator and deal with the infestation.
  • Remove comfort and cozy hiding places: Block any potential places where the cat might enjoy sleeping or relaxing. You want it to feel exposed and out in the open, so that it is uncomfortable and wants to stay away.

A quick note: This is a great method for people who have got rid of a cat via one of our other strategies, but want to keep the cat away. It might not work to stop a cat, as it would have already developed habits and may see this space as its territory.

Plastic and tree screens keep cats out

You want to make things as uncomfortable for cats as possible when they are in your yard (but not dangerous, of course). One great way to do this is to put cling wrap and plastic screens in certain passages frequented by the cat, and to erect plastic grids over green areas and flower beds.

Another great method is to attach plastic grids and natural covers around trees that the cat might climb or claw. You want to just simply make it hard for the cat to hunt, relieve itself, climb, or relax in the area. This, combined with the automatic sprinkler, for example, would work a treat to get rid of a cat from your yard.

Dogs are a good cat deterrent

Are you a dog fan, but are worried about a cat that keeps coming into your yard and making a mess? Well, have no fear, the dog will actually disincentivize the cat from entering your space. Dogs are great at keeping cats away as they are scary and also a perceived threat to the cat, even if the dog itself is harmless.

You don't need some scary guard dog for this tactic to be effective, just simply get the dog you've always wanted and let it go outside and mark its territory as much as possible. In no time at all, that cat will be gone.

It's important to be careful and kind when keeping cats away from your yard.
It's important to be careful and kind when keeping cats away from your yard.  © Unsplash/Max Kleinen

Lure cats away

One of the simplest ways to keep a cat out of your yard is to simply offer a better alternative elsewhere. Talk to your neighbors and figure out whose cat it is. If they are willing, get them to lure their cat away by offering things like catnip, cat grass, different cat herbs, or food back in their home yard.

It's an easy solution if your neighbor is willing to help out, and one that could also bring the problem to the attention of the cat's owner, if it has one.

Keeping cats away can be very difficult

The most important thing to do when trying to keep cats away from your yard is to keep it humane. You shouldn't spray a cat with a hose, you shouldn't cause any physical harm or scare it in a way that could put it in danger.

With that all in mind, it can be very difficult to keep cats away from your yard. Focus on environmental changes that will disincentivise it from entering your property, not on "punishments" for being there in the first place.

Cover photo: 123RF/lesichkadesign

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