A neighborhood cat keeps walking through my garden and I don’t want him to. What can I do?
Answer: Even though cats can be loving and cuddling companions, filling our lives with purrs, laughs and joy, they can also be destructive, irksome troublemakers—especially when they decide to visit neighboring homes without permission! Gardeners are often bothered by a cat who decides to make a mulched bed her litter box, or when cats bother (and potentially kill) birds, butterflies and other wildlife the gardener is trying to attract.
You can always track down the furry culprit’s owner and talk to her. If it seems to be a stray or feral cat, you might telephone the local animal control for help. However you do have a few things you can try first.
Here are a few ways to help keep unwanted cats away:
• Chicken wire: For beds that have not been established you can lay down chicken wire over the soil. The plants can grow through the holes in the wire (you can also cut some free for more room). The cats will not walk over the bed because they dislike the feeling of the wire on their paws.
• Cat repellants: You can go to local pet stores or peruse online for commercial cat repellants that are designed specifically for keeping cats out of the yard and gardens. If you choose this method, make sure that the repellants are not toxic to humans, cats or any other animal. An alternative to commercial cat repellants would be to sprinkle lemon and orange peels throughout your yard. Cats hate citrusy smells! If you have a citrus-scented fragrance, you can also squirt areas with this smell to keep the pesky felines out.
• Repellant plants: Cats also do not like the scent of certain plants, and these work well for deterring cats from gardens. Some examples include: lemon-thyme, lavender, geranium, rue and last but certainly not least, Coleus canina—a plant with a common name of “scaredy cat plant.” If you don’t want to grow rue, you can purchase the herb dry and sprinkle it around problem areas.
• Scare tactics: A motion-activated sprinkler can frighten and spray cats that prowl into your yard. It will take a time or two, but they will learn quickly not to come into a yard that sprays water at them! Also, there are motion-activated ultrasonic devices, such as Catstop, that will sound with high-pitched noises that we cannot hear but cats sure can. These loud hums will keep cats at bay. If none of these methods seem to be working for you, try talking to a local veterinarian or pet shelter for further advice.
Although cats are beloved pets for many people, they are not so beloved when they intrude into neighboring yards, without welcome. But with the right humane method, you can rid your yard from these irksome, four-legged trespassers.
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