14 ways to deter unwanted cats from your garden

how to keep cats out of garden deter cats from garden
14 ways to deter unwanted cats from your gardenMariia Zotova - Getty Images

It can be rather frustrating to realise that cats have been making repeat visits to your garden, particularly if you don't have a cat yourself. From digging up newly planted flowerbeds to pooping on your lawn, they can cause a number of issues. But thankfully there are a number of steps that you can take to humanely deter them from coming into your garden.

It's a lot easier than you might think to keep cats out of your garden. Some quick and easy methods include employing pine cones, pebbles, lavender and orange peel to help keep them at bay. Alternatively, you could create an area that cats will enjoy away from your prized plants and blooms, to keep them occupied.

As a friendly reminder, cats should never be harmed and are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. An obvious initial step to make it difficult for cats to enter your garden is to install high close-boarded fences. The RSPCA also advise to avoid feeding roaming cats, as unsurprisingly, this will encourage them to return.

'The UK is famous the world over for its love of animals, with a high proportion of households having at least one pet. That affection for our four-legged friends rarely extends to allowing your garden to become a toilet for the neighbour's cat though,' says a spokesperson for Garden Buildings Direct. 'Nobody wants to cause them any harm, but you've got to try to stay one step ahead if you want to maintain a clean lawn and undisturbed flowerbeds. Cats are cunning creatures and may become wise to your tricks, so it's important to regularly vary your methods.'

Here are just a few ways to keep cats out of your garden:

1. Clean up

One of the main reasons cats roam is because they're looking for food. So, you'll want to ensure that bins are secure, sweep up any enticing food waste, check that you've not left any potential toys lying around and dispose of any existing cat poo in your garden which has been used to mark their territory.

2. Rough ground

Cats dislike walking on rough surfaces, so incorporating such areas in your garden can deter them. Lay chicken wire under mulch or embed it in the top layer of soil (with holes cut out for plants) to create an uncomfortable surface to walk on. Cats will also do their best to avoid areas covered in stones or pebbles.

3. Keep flowerbeds watered

Another sensation that some cats don't like is wet soil or earth. So, not only does regular watering help your plants and flowers to thrive but it also works as a natural deterrent to keep cats from getting too close to them.

how to keep cats out of garden
Adam Hester/Blend Images

4. Sounds

High-frequency sounds can cause irritability and annoyance in cats, which is why you might want to consider purchasing a high-frequency, ultrasound device to shoo them away, like this one from Amazon. Its motion sensor will detect when a cat is near, emitting a high-frequency sound to bother them.

You could also hang a sensitive bell on the garden fence or fill a tin with stones that will rattle when disturbed by a cat.

5. Create a cat-friendly zone

If you don't mind seeing a moggy exploring your garden, as long as they're not causing too much damage, you might want to create an area specifically for cats to discourage them from exploring other parts of your garden. You can do this by utilising plants like catnip and inserting a sandbox, which will ultimately act as a toilet and contain the problem of cat poo. While this might not work for everyone, it's an excellent way to confine cats to one area.

6. Obstacles

Cats love to dig, which is why they're attracted to gardens and flowerbeds. To keep them away from your prized borders, place a collection of pine cones or branches in gaps around the bedding to form a bristly obstacle. This will deter cats without ruining the natural look of the garden or causing them any pain.

7. Pungent plants

If you're tired of having your garden bed dug up by cats, incorporating pungent plants into your landscape will discourage them from entering (cats don't like the smell). Effective choices include lavender, rosemary, the scaredy cat plant, citronella, catnip and lemon thyme. These will all create a fragrant and functional barrier that will help to protect your plants from unwanted feline visitors.

potted plants in front of house, lavender
Werner Dieterich - Getty Images

8. Other smells

In addition to pungent plants, there are a number of smells that cats are sensitive to. And a few of them might surprise you. For example, did you know that they hate citrus scents? 'They're not fond of citrus smells, so any orange or lemon peels you have pop them directly onto your soil. They'll compost and provide your plants with nutrients, while keeping cats away,' explain the expert team at Cats Protection.

You could also consider a cat-repellent product, however the RSPCA warns: If you do decide to use an approved cat-repellent product on the market, please make sure it's a licensed product and that it is used in strict accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. Failure to follow these may lead to an offense being committed and could result in unnecessary suffering being caused to the cat.

9. Keep bird food off the ground

You might not realise that feeding the birds could be drawing cats into your garden. For example, if bird food falls from a feeder onto the ground, this is another food source for moggies. And they will ultimately be drawn to it.

The same can be said for throwing some scraps of bread or seeds onto the grass for birds. The best thing you can do is to put any food intended for birds up high enough that it is out of their reach or somewhere that is difficult for them to get to.

birds feeding on bird food
Fiona McAllister - Getty Images

10. Plant closely together

If you plant shrubs and bushes closely together this gives cats less of an opportunity to move around and dig, as you've essentially limited the amount of space they have. As they can't move around freely in these types of areas, it makes your garden much less appealing and interesting to them, and will see them looking elsewhere.

11. Get a dog

One sure way to put off any cats from visiting your property is to have a loud and lively canine ready to greet them with an enthusiastic bark.

12. Water pistol

You could also use a toy water pistol to gently drive away any unruly cats that persistently invade the garden. Just ensure that it is low-powered and squirted near the cat, not directly at them.

13. Sprinkler sprays

In a similar vein, there are motion-activated sprinkler devices which shoot a short burst of water out when a cat passes in front of it. This one from B&Q only triggers when it detects movement nearby, which will save you from wasting water unnecessarily.

14. Shoo

And finally, sometimes something as simple as saying 'shoo' to them can keep them away. Clapping loudly can also help but you may need to use this alongside some of the other methods to notice a real difference.

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