Cats are great pets, less demanding than a dog, but just as affectionate in their own way. The trouble is the love and respect they have for you doesn’t necessarily translate to the outside world, they are animals after all, and animals have certain instinctive behaviours that sometimes leave a lot to be desired. If you own a cat, chances are you’ve experienced the ‘gift’ of a dead bird on the floor next to the cat flap, and if you live next to or near one or more cats then your gift is likely to come in the form of poo in your garden!
If you’ve ever experienced the latter you’ll know just how frustrating this can be, particularly if it happens regularly. Cats have are legally entitled to roam wherever they wish, and there isn’t really anything you can forcefully do to stop them from engaging in this behaviour – after all when you gotta go you gotta go! Arguably your neighbours have a responsibility to clean up after their cats, and frankly it would be rude of them not to at least acknowledge this. Yet still this won’t really be of much help to you.
So short of starting a bitter and pointless feud with your neighbours, what else can you do to try and prevent cats from using your garden when nature calls? The obvious answer of course is to try and prevent them from entering the garden in the first place, although this sounds simple enough, actually perfecting a way of doing so is in practice far harder!
What Definitely Doesn’t Work as a Cat Deterrent
The internet is awash with old wives tales of how to make gardens unappealing to cats, some ideas seems reasonable to attempt, others are downright mind boggling. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Use several half filled clear plastic bottles of water, lay them on their side on the lawn and or in flower beds. Quite what the logic behind this is is anyone’s guess (do cats see their reflection in the water and get scared?) Whatever the reason it doesn’t particularly matter as this simply doesn’t work. Cats will continue to enter the garden and quite happily walk past these bottles as though they simply weren’t there.
- Strong Scented Sprays/Fruit Peels. It might well be true that cats dislike strong citrus or minty odours, but they certainly don’t dislike them enough to stay away from an area altogether. This one is particularly inviting to try as there are commercially available sprays designed for this very purpose. Don’t be fooled however, these are totally useless and you would be wise to save your money for something that works.
- Ultrasonic Cat Repellent Devices, or ‘Cat Scarers’. There is an entire industry built around this type of product, and it’s even more of a con than scented sprays because it’s more lucrative for manufacturers. Various battery/mains powered high frequency emitting devices exist that claim to deter cats from coming within range of your garden, but whilst the sound might be unpleasant they’ll soon get used to it and it will no longer stop them from ‘doing their business’ in amongst your perennials.
- A cat shaped silhouette mounted to a fence. It might fool them into thinking they’re on another cat’s territory once, but cats are pretty intelligent creatures and they’ll soon cotton on that it’s not a real threat
- Lion Faeces/Urine. Various products are available, particularly from online retailers, that contain elements of ‘big cat’ waste, that supposedly scare cats into thinking the ground they’re walking on is inhabited by a bigger predator. Whilst this probably works better than the fruity/minty sprays on offer at the supermarket, it’s still not guaranteed, and these types of products don’t come cheap.
What Does Keep Cats Out of Your Garden?
You might have noticed a running theme with all of the above, none of them involve a physical barrier to stop cats pooping in the garden. The reason being that spray devices and physical barriers are the only methods that will stop a cat from going where you don’t want them too… with one exception that we’ll mention last of all.
Water Spray Device
We were sceptical about this at first, but it turns out these devices really do work. Essentially like a garden sprinkler that only activates when it senses motion, this type of device will certainly startle a cat and make it retreat. Then it’s just a case of rinse and repeat (quite literally!), eventually the cat will get the idea, and stay well clear of your garden. There is one potential weakness if the cats in question are brave and intelligent enough, that being that they might work out the safe distance away from the device to prevent it from going off.
Plastic Fence Spikes
You can buy these things by the box load, and they’re a decent deterrent, although they won’t stop cats from entering your garden completely. Typically supplied in strips about 40cm long by 3cm wide, these simple spiked strips won’t harm cats, but simply make a fence uncomfortable to walk on. They’re easily mounted with the aid of screws or tacks, and you can easily remove them at any time. They usually come supplied with a warning notice that you should attach to your fence to avoid any chance of any legal rebuttal should some nefarious person attempt to climb over your fence and injure themselves!
Thorns or Holly Leaves Left Strategically Around the Garden
If you’d rather stick to what mother nature has to offer, you can always pepper your flowerbeds with bramble or thorn cuttings, again to make the ground unappealing to walk on. This method obviously has the advantages of being free (providing you have thorny plants in your garden), and natural looking. Unlike plastic spikes however, these deterrents will move and decay over time, so you’ll need to replace them from time to time.
Make the tops of Fences Too Narrow to Walk on
This is a simple one, and it’s easy to implement. If the tops of your fences are wider than about 1.5cm they can easily be walked on by cats, so to put this right fix a thin strip of wood or plastic to the top of the fence, such that it protrudes above the top of the fence and makes it impossible for cats to walk along it. This is a better option if you’re concerned about the safety implications of having plastic spikes on the fence.
Suspend Rope Or Twine Parallel with the top of the Fence
The best way to picture this idea is to think of barbed wire fences that have several strips of barbed wire running along the top, positioned at above 45 degrees to the side of the fence. Although this might sound like your garden will end up looking like a prison yard, as long as you use a green or brown twine it should be fairly in-keeping with the rest of the garden. Best of all this method really does work well, as soon as the cats realise they can no longer make their way out of the garden this way, it stops them from coming in.
Get a Cat of Your Own
Yep it is that simple, if you’ve got a cat of your own who sees your garden as their own territory, other cats will stay well away. Of course if you really don’t want anything to do with cats at all, this pretty much defeats the object, and there are also no guarantees that your own cat won’t poo in your garden, at least from time to time. But if your main concern is beating the injustice of other peoples cats pooing in your garden, getting your own cat is the perfect solution.