Cat Deterrents & Keeping Wildlife Safe

Responsible Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) IS a vital part of keeping community wildlife safe. Without responsible TNR cats would continue to reproduce and be forced to hunt for sustenance. Remember, members of your neighborhood that engage in TNR care about wildlife too and took it upon themselves to help implement an effective solution to reduce and control outdoor cat populations. Feral cat feeding stations encourage outdoor cats to eat cat food, and a cat whose stomach is full is less likely to hunt wildlife.

The following are suggestions for keeping wildlife safe and for keeping cats away from your property if that is a concern. None of these methods will harm animals. If you are interested in deterrents for your garden or other areas, see:
http://www.alleycat.org/deterrents or http://bestfriends.org/resources/solutions-cat-related-issues

Property Perimeter and Fences

Repair or block gaps in fencing that may be access points for predators.

Use flimsy plastic barrier fencing mesh (NOT netting!  Lizards can get caught and die in nets)  placed on top of a fence (usually between poles made from something such as PVC or garden stakes) to prevent cats climbing over it. It is available in green and brown.  An outward-angled chicken-wire fence will do the same thing but PLEASE check daily for lizards. 

Specially designed strips of plastic spikes, such as Cat Repeller Fence and Wall Spikes, can be placed on top of a fence, shed roof and nest-box roof preventing predators from walking on them.  We discourage anything metal because lizards, birds and other wildlife may be harmed.

Under Porches, Sheds, Mobile Homes, Etc.

Once you are certain that cats or kittens are no longer in these locations, physically block or seal the place they are entering with chicken wire or lattice.  Be sure to search for kittens before confirming that the cats have left–especially during spring and summer, prime kitten season.

Keep them from sheltering in unwanted areas by providing inexpensive shelter (Instructions Here). Or, if they’re part of a nearby managed colony, ask the caregiver to provide a shelter for the cats. Shelters should be hidden to keep the cats safe, and placing them in secluded areas can help guide the cats away from unwanted areas.

Trash Cans

Place a tight lid on your trash can.  Exposed trash bags will attract other wildlife as well.

Loose Dirt & Gardens

Cats like to dig in loose dirt.  Try placing pebbles, rocks, gravel, mulch, etc. over areas with loose dirt.  Netting can also be placed over areas with loose dirt.

Try embedding wood chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart.

Try plastic carpet runners spike-side up, covered lightly in soil or set chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.

Arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or wooden or plastic lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings.

Purchase Cat Scat™, a nonchemical cat and wildlife repellent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging. Available at www.gardeners.com. 

Cats dislike citrus.  Try placing citrus peels in areas you are trying to deter cats from. 

See “Scent Repellant” section.

Light Reflection Repellant

Create some flickering random light reflections as a deterrent. String some unwanted CD's together with knots in between to keep them apart. These cat distracters can then be hung across flower beds and gardens or hung from trees.

Commercial Product Repellants

Cat Scat™, a nonchemical cat and wildlife repellent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging. Available at www.gardeners.com.  

CatStop™ or ScareCrow™. Available at http://www.contech-inc.com

Scent Repellant

Cats dislike citrus.  Try placing citrus peels in areas you are trying to deter cats from such as around the edges of your yard, tops of fences, etc.

-Essential Oils-

Citronella: Mix 1 part Citronella oil to 4 parts water and spray liberally in the trouble spot.

Lavender: Mix 1 part Lavender oil to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and shake well.  Spray liberally in the trouble spot.

Lemon or Orange: Scattering lemon or orange peels on the ground in the off-limits areas. Squeeze a lemon into a liter of water in a squirt bottle, add 2 dozen drops of eucalyptus oil and shake well.

Peppermint: Mix 1 part peppermint oil to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and shake well.  Spray liberally in the trouble spot.    

Mix 2 tablespoons of Cinnamon, Rosemary and Lavender into a pint of boiling water and leave it overnight.  Next morning you will need to strain the liquid through a cheesecloth and then add half a cup of vinegar and a dozen drops of Tangerine essential oil. Place the liquid in a spray bottle and shake well.  Spray liberally in problem areas.

*You can also try soaking cotton balls in one of the oils and putting them in and around the area.
Rosemary is a perennial that you can plant which grows well here, smells nice, is useful for cooking and cats hate the smell.

A garden plant has been developed called Coleus Canina (also known as as the "pee-off plant" or the "scaredy cat" coleus)  that many animals, including cats will avoid.  This plant has excellent foliage and small, attractive spikes of blue flowers in the summer. It releases a stench that cats just can’t stand. Humans can only smell it when touched.  Plants need to be established before the smell is released. They need to be in drier rather than wet soil and planted about three feet apart.  We don't know anyone that has been able to grow this in Tucson however.

You could also try planting the herb rue which cats dislike the scent of.   This plant has blue leaves and can be used as a garden accent.

Use a product called Silent Roar to scent mark your garden

Water Repellant

Install a motion-detecting sprinkler system. Aim the motion detector away from the bird feeder to the area where predators enter your yard. When the system detects a cat, it activates and squirts water in that direction, which startles the cat away.

Ultrasonic Deterrents

There are motion activated ultrasonic noise devices commercially available from pet stores which humans cannot hear but that cats can.  The effectiveness of these is probably variable, and there is little scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Some are also quite expensive.  It's a matter of individual choice whether to use them or not.

Aim a motion-detecting ultrasonic device at the area where predators enter your yard. It emits a high-frequency sound that humans can't hear. The loud sound is unpleasant to the predator.

Bird Feeder and Bird Bath Placement

Keep feeders and baths at least five feet (ideally 10-12 feet) from shrubs, trees or cover that can conceal a stalking predator.

Avoid using low feeders or ground feeders that make it easier for predators to capture wild birds. Hang the bird feeders high enough that cats cannot reach birds.

Use plastic or metal poles to support feeders so predators’ claws cannot help them climb to the feeder.

Fix a downward opening cone or cookie tin to the bird table post to prevent predators climbing up. Squirrel baffles are a good choice. Spiked tree collars can also prevent climbing up a tree.  Other tree collars can be made from slick plastic or metal.

Spiny plants or clippings, such as thorned mesquite, cactus, ocotillo, or an uncomfortable surface around the base of feeding stations to prevent predators from sitting underneath.

Clean up spilled seed regularly to minimize ground feeding birds.

Bird Houses & Nesting Boxes

Choose designs with steep roofs and lacking perches to help deter predators.

Keep nesting boxes at least eight feet off the ground to decrease predators jumping to the box.

Wildlife In Trees, Shrubs, Hedges, Brush, etc.

Decorative or wire fencing installed in front of shrubs or hedges that may conceal predators can prevent attacks from these vantage points.

Plant wildlife-friendly vegetation, such as prickly bushes to provide secure cover for birds. These should be close enough to where birds feed to provide cover, but not so close that predators can use it to stalk birds.  This kind of foliage may also provide food and nesting sites.

Brush piles and shrubbery should be checked regularly for ground nests and fledgling birds that are most vulnerable to prowling predators.

Make a “Safe” Area for Birds

Surround a smaller area with a fence, such as chicken wire, that leans in the direction of the predator approach which will make it impossible to climb over due to the angle.