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
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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- Coleus canina can be planted about three feet apart around the bird feeder emits an odor cats find offensive, making them think twice about returning to your yard. I don’t know anyone that has been able to grow this in Tucson however. It is marketed under the names Pee-off and Scaredy-cat.
- Use a product called Silent Roar to scent mark your garden
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 scares the cat away.