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How To Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

July 1, 2022
bird migration
a magpie that inspired the magpie rhyme singing in a tree
a kitten in a flower bed

Of course, cats are one of our favourite pets. But, these popular pets can become a nuisance if you’re a gardener. From digging up flower beds to crushing plants, it’s easy to see why we can quickly lose our patience with unwanted feline visitors. But, learning how to prevent pests can save you a lot of work and trouble in the long run. Although cats may not seem like a pest at first glance, their effect on your garden can be detrimental. So, finding safe, natural ways to answer ‘how can I keep cats out of my garden’ is in the best interest of both you and the felines. Here are our tips to help you figure out how to keep cats out of your garden for good.

Why Are Cats Bad For Your Garden?

Although cats digging up your garden can be a nuisance all on their own, cats bring several issues besides this. Some of the problems that can occur when cats are roaming through your garden include:

  • Cat faeces can contaminate soil, causing the spread of diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella from the ground to your vegetables[i]
  • Cats roaming around the neighbourhood can strain local relations since they will likely cause arguments.
  • Wandering domestic cats kill an estimated 27 million birds over spring and summer alone[ii]. And, if you have equipped your garden to attract birds, particularly pollinators, their populations could take a hit if a cat is preying on birds around the neighbourhood.

How Can I Keep Cats Out of My Garden?

Pest deterrents are vital to a healthy garden, and solutions to ‘how to keep cats out of your garden’ don’t have to be complicated. You can do several things to deter cats from your garden without sacrificing your property or hurting the visiting kitty. Naturally, if you’re aware of whose cat it is, the best solution is to have a word with them and see what they can do. However, if the cat is a stray or – perhaps even worse – your pet, there are some cat deterrents you can try to protect your garden. Here’s how to keep cats out of your garden with a few simple steps.  

Make Some Noise

colourful wind chimes that can be used to keep cats out of your garden

Like humans and many other animals, cats are frightened by sudden loud noises. Not only is it part of their survival instinct, but cats also have a particularly sensitive sense of hearing, meaning they can hear even the smallest of noises. So, use their sensitivity to your advantage and include some objects that will make noise in your garden.

To make enough noise to keep cats out of your garden, you could consider:

  • Hanging wind chimes
  • Motion sensitive devices
  • Ultrasound alarms
  • Rattling pebbles in a jar

Protect Your Flower Beds

a cat that has been stopped from going on a flower bed

Cats love to walk on your flower beds because of the soft soil. But, to protect their paws, they will avoid prickly surfaces. So, make your garden beds less comfortable for any visiting paws with some of these readily available suggestions:

  • Cover your soil with chicken wire or something similar, such as thin plastic fencing or lattice pieces. Most plants will be able to grow through these materials, but cats won’t be able to get to your soil.
  • Cover soil where you have planted spring seedlings with twigs until the plants are established. Place them close together across the flower bed. If you’d like, include bundles of twigs in your flower beds since these are the perfect nesting habitat for bees.
  • Create garden stakes by recycling wooden chopsticks or skewers. Ideally, these makeshift garden stakes will give a visiting cat a hard time getting to your flower beds and turning around. You may have to experiment with spacing for this solution to work best.
  • Gather prickly garden trimmings – including fallen leaves – and pine cones, then push these into the soil with your flowers. You can try this with other sharp options, including egg shells, holly bush cuttings or stones.

Plant Some Cat Deterrent Plants

lavender is one of the best cat deterrent plants and helps with how to keep cats out of garden

There are plenty of cat deterrent plants that you can include in your garden. Although plants can’t completely repel cats, you can definitely deter them by choosing plants with particular scents or textures. To get the best use of cat deterrent plants, you should place them at entry points of your garden. Plus, to stop cats from disturbing seeds and flowers, include some cat deterrent plants in the borders of your flower beds.

Some of the most successful cat deterrent plants include:

  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Scaredy cat plant
  • Rosemary
  • Roses
  • Blackberry bushes
  • Holly
  • Pennyroyal
  • Rue

Attack Their Sense of Smell

As well as sensitive hearing, cats have a fine sense of smell. Their sense of smell is 14 times better than ours[iii], meaning the right scents will deter them easily. But, there are also some smells that cats love, which you should definitely avoid using in your garden!

Some scents that can deter cats include:

  • Citrus
  • Coffee grounds
  • Human hair
  • Essential oils
  • Hot peppers
  • Vinegar
  • Fresh herbs
  • Lavender[iv]

You should avoid some scents since they are a favourite among cats. These include:

  • Catnip
  • Honeysuckle
  • Olive
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon
  • Cat thyme
  • Valerian root[v]

Fence Off Your Garden

a cat on a fence that hasn't been adapted to answer how can I keep cats out of my garden

Cats are extremely good jumpers – an adult cat can jump up to about 4-5 feet high[vi]. Using this skill to jump over fences or onto outhouses is one way into your garden that you may not have even considered cats to be using. So, block off one of a visiting cat’s entry points by lining your garden boundaries with a tall enough fence. Usually, a fence around 1.8 metres high is enough to block a cat’s line of entry.

If you only have a short fence, you can adapt it with wire-mesh fencing. Create a barrier of the same height with a little overhang to stop cats from jumping on to your fence. 

Remove Their Scent

a gardener hosing down part of their garden to show how can I keep cats out of my garden

Cats use urine to mark their territory, and once they’ve urinated in the same spot several times, they’re likely to return since they’ve marked the area with their scent. So, monitor your visitor and see if it continues to return to the same spot. Once you’ve spotted where they’re leaving their mark, wash the area well with a hose to remove the scent. If the site no longer smells of their urine, it’s unlikely they’ll find it again.

Protect Favourite Spots of Birds

a bird feeder that has been moved to keep cats out garden

If your garden is regularly visited by birds and cats have started to frequent the area, you must take steps to protect the birds. For example, if you have bird tables and feeders in your garden, you should reconsider their placement to prioritise the safety of visiting birds.

Try and position bird tables and feeders around three metres from cover to give birds an escape route should any cats approach. If there are any potential hiding places for cats around this area, such as shrubs and low branches, place some prickly vegetation or chicken wire around these sites to stop cats from sneaking up on visiting birds.

Spray Them

a sprinkler in a flower bed to help keep cats out of garden

If cats are becoming regular visitors to your garden, they’ve likely found something they enjoy there. You can use water to gently spray any feline visitors and break the positive association they have formed with your property.

If you are vigilant, you may be able to catch them with a spray bottle filled with water. However, the easiest option is usually motion-activated sprinklers. These will spray water at the first sign of movement, and cats will quickly learn that your garden is off-limits.  

Give Them Their Own Space

If you’re questioning ‘how can I keep cats out of my garden’ but the cat you’re struggling with is your own, a different approach may work best. Naturally, you don’t want to harm your cat or make drastic changes to the appearance of your garden, but allowing your cat to destroy your plants is not an option. So, consider giving your cat their own space. If you set up an outdoor cat enclosure to pamper your kitty, they can enjoy your garden without the risk of them harming birds and other wildlife.

If you don’t have the room or funds to set up a large outdoor enclosure for your (or someone else’s) cat, consider creating a litter box outdoors. Place a small sandbox near your cat’s favourite garden spot and add catnip, honeysuckle or mint to it. These are all plants cats love; hopefully, they will be drawn to the litter box rather than your flower beds.  

How Can I Keep Cats Out of My Garden?

Finding the right solution to the question ‘how can I keep cats out of my garden’ depends entirely on you, your property and the cats that have shown an interest in it. Some of these methods may work the first time, and some may take some patience. Try a mix of our solutions, and you’ll be on your way to reclaiming your garden.

Do you have any tips on keeping cats out of gardens? Let us know your advice!

Sources

  [i] https://acmg.ucanr.edu/files/214548.pdf

[ii] https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines/

[iii] https://www.pawschicago.org/news-resources/all-about-cats/kitty-basics/cat-senses#:~:text=A%20cat’s%20sense%20of%20smell,better%20than%20that%20of%20humans.

[iv] https://www.greatpetcare.com/cat-behavior/what-smells-do-cats-hate/

[v] https://excitedcats.com/smells-that-cats-love/

[vi] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/high-cats-actually-jump-190803406.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAM8H7IXuguBDAcQKMR0cmJFVgBA1RwFyvjVK6Ir5aFs5OUA_iD1ALUCld0rkeNeIt3BKE4L36W0Iwq3QhYFJcUrIePIhDM2WDJjEJJDrCCNTKyav9QHAk-3ZT_EkS91SEM1hgMQqDO8yPld9RH9mlv-j44OLjc6W8YiQB2bdws6M

Author

  • Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Garden Wildlife Direct, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you're struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can't decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.

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