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How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard in 2020

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard in 2020 Graphic

There might be many reasons you would need to know how to keep cats out of your yard. Perhaps you’re severely allergic to cats or perhaps you simply don’t want them tearing up your garden or spraying on the porch. Perhaps you have an indoor cat who gets upset and stressed by stray or feral cats coming close to the windows.

Or perhaps you simply don’t like cats. And that’s okay.

So let’s move on to discuss how to keep cats out of your yard (and anywhere else). We’ll discuss the problem behaviors you might be experiencing and how to solve those, as well as ways to keep them from your yard, garden, or even your car. So let’s move on.

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Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Solves Many Problems

First, you might consider becoming involved in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to solve some of the problems cats are causing you.

Spraying urine all over your house and yard is a sign of unfixed, territorial cats. While a few fixed cats still retain that behavior, the majority of them will cease spraying. And the few that DO continue to spray will not be spraying tomcat pee that really, REALLY stinks.

Another added benefit of getting the cats in your neighborhood TNR’d is population control. The more cats who are fixed, the fewer cats you will have to deal with next year. That’s fewer cats in your yard, on your car, upsetting your house cat or your dog.

Lastly, it also reduces cat fights by a LOT. No more cats yowling, fighting, or mating under your window in the middle of the night.

It’s funny, but I recently finished getting my cat colony fixed by neutering the wily tomcat who has eluded my trapping attempts for years. He and a new tomcat used to fight every single night. Now that both have been neutered? They can be found sleeping together under a bush. I haven’t heard a single catfight in over two months.

TNR can really work to curb the behaviors you find annoying or destructive in cats and it is definitely worth considering. Even if you aren’t looking to become a cat caretaker, it can really help you.

If you’re looking into TNR near you, I highly suggest you go to Alley Cat Allies to find services and individuals in your area through their Feral Friends Network. This is an excellent way to find TNR and low-cost/free spay and neuter clinics near you.

Tabby Cat Trapped for TNR by a volunteer

Cat Deterrent Devices that Really Work

Now that I’ve discussed ways of reducing problem behaviors in cats, let’s discuss electronic devices that really work at keeping cats out of your yard!

Motion Activated Sprinklers

These are very effective as we all know cats don’t particularly enjoy getting sprayed! It’s harmless and it will deter cats from entering your yard. (Does not work during the winter, for obvious reasons.)

Personally, if I were to need to deter my cats from an area, THIS is the device I would use, if possible.

Ultrasonic Critter Repellents

These emit horrible sounds that humans can’t hear but that bug the crap out of cats, dogs, and other wildlife. Some even have lights and such light up. It definitely scares cats away, if used properly.

Some people claim that ultrasonic devices don’t work but I suspect user error. The two I’ve seen in action DEFINITELY worked.

Effectiveness of ultrasonic devices will require proper coverage and setup. If you have a large yard, you may need multiple devices. Or simply just put them in the areas cats tend to enter your yard. Please read instructions carefully.

Cat Proof Fences

Another options to help keep cats out of your yard is to modify your fence to be cat proof! This option is the most expensive option, but it also helps keep out other critters who climb fences as well, so it may be worth it to you.

Keep in mind, if you choose a cat-proof fence extension designed to keep cats in the yard, they just have to be turned around to face outward instead of inward.

Other great brands for cat fences include:

How to Keep Cats Out of the Garden

This is a huge problem even for cat lovers! Sometimes our feline friends (or feline foes!) love using our beautiful gardens as a litter box. So how do you keep them out of your gardens?

Scat Mats

This sounds incredibly simple, but it honestly does work! Cats have sensitive paws and don’t like stepping or digging on these.

Build a Litter Box!

If you are simply trying to keep cats from using your garden as a place to pee or poo, then you may consider building them and outdoor litter box to use instead. Then both you AND the cats are happy!

You may want to keep in mind that regular litter is not a good idea outside, especially if it is exposed to rain. But some ideas for an outdoor litter box include:

  • Child’s sandbox (which you can buy or repurpose a hand-me-down version).
  • A large pile of Peat Moss
  • Use a large storage bin with a few inches of sandbox sand or cat litter in it. You will need to cut a hole into the side, above the level of the sand/litter.

Unwanted Paw Prints on the Car? Here’s the Solution!

Some of us don’t mind cats sitting on our vehicles. Some of us worry about scratches or don’t want to be cleaning smudgy paw prints on our windshields. So how do you keep cats off of your car?

Well, sometimes you won’t be able to prevent it. It’s not really feasible to attach an electronic device to spray a cat on your car. Any indoor device you use could fall off your car easily. You could spray your car with repellant, but that just leaves a horrible mess.

You CAN, however, protect your car from paw prints!

Car Covers

The only way I’ve seen to effectively protect your car from cats in any situation is to use car covers. This just ensures that when a cat does climb on your car, he or she actually never touches your vehicle.

Other Car Suggestions

IF you park near your yard, you CAN use an ultrasonic device that covers your parking area. This will keep cats from the entire area. Please see above for examples.

Another suggestion is to use DIY natural repellents that won’t leave a greasy smudge on your car. That’s IF you’re interested in putting certain oils on your car, or lemon peels. Please keep reading for more suggestions.

What About Cats Scratching Your Porch Furniture?

This is an indoor-cat trick that can be applied outside in certain areas. Keep in mind, this works better if it doesn’t get wet, so on your covered porches, patios, etc. and this will keep cats OFF your furniture and stop them from scratching to boot.

Double-Sided Tape

It has many names, but cats HATE sticky tape on their paws. You can use it to tape your couch to discourage your indoor cats from scratching the furniture. You can use it on your porch to discourage cats from getting on or scratching your porch, particularly the furniture.

Heck, you could use it on the top of your car if you want and it will stop cats from jumping up there. After the first time, or the second, they aren’t going to like your car much anymore. That said, not really useful if wet.

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard: DIY Ideas

If you’re looking for more natural methods of keeping cats away from your house, garden or the like, here are some recommended ideas. (Plus they’re cheaper options.)

Full disclosure: these are not guaranteed. Especially when using scent repellants, you often get people who swear they work, while others say they don’t help at all.

Another consideration is that many of the scents need to be reapplied after a rain or a period of time, especially the sprays.

  • Make sure your trash cans are securely closed, with a bungee cord if necessary. If you don’t have a trash can with a lid, buy one. While garbage isn’t a cat’s preferred meal, they will dumpster dive if not regularly fed.
    • If someone is feeding the cats regularly, it’s not likely cats getting into the trash. An added benefit of a covered trash can? Keeps out raccoons as well.
  • Sprinkle your lawn or garden with scents that cats don’t like much. Such items may include:
    • lemon or orange peels or citrus-scented sprays (non-toxic of course)
    • cayenne pepper
    • pipe tobacco
    • vinegar
    • specific oils such as citronella, lavendar, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and citrus
    • coffee grounds
    • dried mustard or mustard oil)
    • dried rue
  • Plant the herb rue in your garden.
  • Plant Colieus Canina, also known as the “Scaredy-Cat” plant, is reported to repel animals, such as cats. There is no evidence that suggests this works, however. That said, if you wish to try it, plant it around your yard.
  • Use sprays designed to repel animals, such as Critter Ridder by Havahart. That said, repellant sprays have mixed reviews. Some work, some don’t. Some cats are repelled, some aren’t.
  • Use river rocks to cover exposed soil in your garden to discourage digging.
  • Lay chicken wire in your garden.
  • Use dull pointy objects such as pine cones or sharp rocks or sticks to create an unpleasant experience in your garden.
  • If cats are entering a garden shed or another area, block off the entrance with chicken wire or lattice.
    • Be sure no cats or kittens are trapped inside.
Tabby cat in a yard

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard in 2020

Whether you love cats or not, there are many reasons to want to keep them out of certain areas, such as the garden or the entire yard.

For cat lovers who have neighbors who dislike cats in their yards, please remember respectfully dealing with a neighbor gets you much more cooperation than anger. Not everyone likes cats. That’s okay. Work with your neighbors to keep the stray or feral cat population away from where they are not wanted.

For people who don’t love cats, it’s okay to set up any of these humane options to discourage feral and community and your neighbor’s indoor-outdoor pet from coming into your yard. Another suggestion is to respectfully talk to your neighbors about any cat issues you are having.

Do you have a suggestion for keeping cats out of yards that I missed? What’s your favorite method? Which ones did you try? Did they work? Let me know by commenting below!


4 thoughts on “How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard in 2020”

  1. I remember growing up with a huge striped tom cat and we adored Sylvester but he was a problem roaming the neighbor’s back yards. Your solutions are excellent advice on all the ways to deal with this problem and not too expensive. Having a dog helps too as he loves to chase them away, definitely a good deterrent. 

    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting.

      I didn’t list dogs because often dogs will kill cats, even if they’re friendly with cats indoors, they see strange cats as ‘prey’ if they’re part of a hunting breed.  Admittedly, I do believe everyone should keep their pet cats indoors, but I  hate to see a stray or feral cat killed by someone’s dog. Since I was listing only humane ways to discourage them from entering the yard, I decided not to include dogs.  

  2. I don’t know that I mind cats in my yard so much.  I was heading into my garage last night and one shot to my back yard.  Now I do have other critters I would like to keep out like raccoons, squirrels, and gophers.  Will these also work for them as well?  But I do have 3 dogs, and would not want something that would harm them.

    1. Hi!  Most people don’t mind cats, thankfully!  But it’s always good to be kind to our neighbors and try to live with them when caring for feral cats.

      As for other critters, YES.  Some of the smells I mentioned might have to be changed, but a cat fence will help prevent things from crawling over a fence.  (That said, squirrels might be able to climb upside down, so that MIGHT not work for them.)  AND the devices I mentioned, especially the ultrasonic ones should deter any wildlife.  EXCEPT if they’re under the ground.  That said, I don’t think they’re going to dig around in a yard with horrible noise every time they leave their burrow!

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