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Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden
Do cat repellants work? How to stop a cat from using the garden as a litter box? Tell me how to keep cats out of my garden. These are common questions that concern all gardeners, but is there a real answer?
The first line of defense is to ensure that the boundaries of your yard are secure. Any gaps in your fence should be blocked to deny low-level access. But cats can jump, so fix a taut wire or string about six inches above the top of the fence to deter that approach.
Once in your garden, many people say that the best cat repellent is a dog, which will soon chase away any feline intruder. If you are not a dog lover, then you will have to resort to more passive methods. Since cats like to lie on freshly dug soil, you should mulch your borders so there is no exposed bare soil. Seed beds should be covered with wire mesh or twigs arranged as a barrier.
Young trees should have plastic guards fitted around their trunks to protect them from being used as a scratching post.
Your garden pond should be covered with netting to protect your fish.
Cats are generally known to dislike water, so a well-aimed bucket or hose spray is sure to send the intruder fleeing. After a watering or two, it may learn its lesson and stay away.
For plant and border protection, both mothballs and citrus are considered effective deterrents. Place mothballs, orange peel or lemon peel in the borders. Alternatively, spray the towels with an orange-scented air freshener and place the towels around the plants you want to protect. Other popular cat repellants include cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemongrass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, and mustard oil.
Certain herbs are said to deter cats. Especially rue, but not catnip, which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant sold by a vendor as a cat repellent.
Broadcaster Jerry Baker suggested treating your yard with a tonic made from chewing tobacco, urine, birth control pills, mouthwash, molasses, laundry detergent and beer. A small farmer has reported success using dried rabbit blood, but you may feel that the ingredients listed in the previous paragraph should be tried first.
If you visit your local garden center or hardware store, you will find several cat repellants for sale. They range from electric water sprinklers and ultrasonic devices to sprays and granules.
Motion activated sprinklers work in the same way as a burglar alarm using an infrared detector. When the cat enters the area covered by the detector, the sprinkler shoots a stream of water to scare the animal away. It is said that after one or two encounters with the jet, the cat will learn to avoid the area.
Ultrasonic devices emit a high-frequency sound that irritates cats (and dogs) but is inaudible to humans. There are various different models, some of which work continuously, while others have an infrared detector and emit a sound pulse only when the cat activates the device. To be successful, you need to make sure the model is powerful enough to cover the area you want to protect. Also, make sure the sound frequency is designed for larger animals, as some models are designed to repel insects and therefore would not be useful for cats.
There are also commercial scented cat repellants. Those using chemicals should stay away from any food crops, but the granular essential oil-based varieties work in the same way as the orange and lemon peels mentioned above. Another way to keep a cat out of the garden is a repellent vaporizer, which consists of a container containing puffed rice impregnated with essential oils. They are effective for three to four weeks and can then be refilled for an additional period. Another natural product that many people claim really does keep cats out of the garden is lion dung. You may have to visit your local zoo to get it, although some stores carry a zoo.
In Ontario, Canada, a local community provides a cat trap service. Once the animal enters the cage, it cannot escape, but is completely unharmed. The owner must pay to rehabilitate their pet and therefore should be encouraged not to let the cat roam in the future. Apparently few owners bother to return their cats and just get another kitten. However, this sounds like a good way to deal with a cat that cannot be restrained by any other method. If there is no such scheme in your area, just buy your own trap.
So, to summarize, the first priority is to secure your border fences. Then you have the whole selection of cat repellants on offer, ranging from homemade recipes to expensive commercial gadgets. I suggest you try the orange peel and thorny twigs for starters. If you are around when the intruder appears, try the bucket of water or the hose. Even if you miss, the shock can be enough of a deterrent. If these don’t work, then you may need to consider commercial alternatives.
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