Lawn Pests: Keeping Cats Out Of Your Yard

Yards are invaded by a neighbors cat. Tips to help keep lawns feline free. Information on repellants.

In most towns and municipalities, dogs must be licensed and kept on a leash, and there are penalties to dog owners for allowing their pets to run loose. However, these restrictions do not apply to cats. Since cats are not required to be leashed, they run free and can roam their neighborhoods wracking havoc on lawns and gardens. Additionally, the cat population is increasing rapidly and it is more difficult for people to find home for unexpected litters of kittens. Certainly, there are serious issues here that need to be addressed, but for a lot of homeowners, a more pressing problem is keeping unwanted cats out of their yards.

Cats are far more difficult to keep contained within a yard than are dogs. As a result, cats may wander into neighboring yards, using gardens, sandboxes and carefully tended lawns as litter boxes. For people who do not own cats, or who do not allow their own felines outside, this can be an irritating annoyance. Cat urine and feces are thought to be dangerous to pregnant women, and little children who play outside may even ingest some of this substance unwittingly. How do you keep unwanted cats out of your yard?

The most obvious solution is to have a dog. Dogs and cats are notorious enemies, and a strange cat wandering into a dog's domain can meet with some serious resistance! Of course, you do not want to find yourself the subject of a lawsuit should your dog injure or kill a neighbor's cat. Sometimes, just the threat of a dog will be enough to keep the cat from entering your yard. If your dog lives outside or spends a lot of time in your yard, chances are you will not have a cat problem.

But what if you cannot have a dog or do not want one? What are some other ways to prevent cats from using your yard as a litter box? People have tried many measures in this effort. Here are some that seem to work and are inexpensive, while at the same time not being injurious to the neighborhood cats.

- Install a motion-activated sprinkler system. Most cats hate water, and once they discover that they will become drenched each time they visit your yard, they will stay away. The concept is simple. The sprinkler will turn on when motion detected. Of course, the down side of this is that you or your children will also get wet should the system be left on inadvertently.

- Use a heavy mulch or bark to cover the gardens. Cats like to dig and scrape when preparing an area to use for their toilet. If the garden is covered with thick bark, cedar or other mulch, or rocks, a cat will not find it attractive for this use. Of course, you will want to ensure that your plants are able to grow and get enough moisture, but generally, mulches are beneficial to plants and shrubs, so this will serve a two-fold purpose. You can also use pinecones on the garden. Cats don't like the smell or the texture of pinecones, and will avoid areas where they are present.

- Install cat-resistant fencing. Put up a chain link fence. While cats can climb a wood fence, or use trees to climb in and out of yards, few felines have mastered the art of scaling a chain link fence. Another alternative is a plastic fence. Many home-improvement outlets offer attractive heavy plastic or plastic-coated fencing that has the appearance of wood. Cats cannot climb this fencing and will become frustrated in trying to do so.

Further, this fencing is durable and lasts years longer than traditional wood stockade. It is available in a number of styles and heights, and will not only keep cats out of your yard; it will keep your own cat from leaving. With any fencing, make sure there is no room underneath for pets to crawl through. This, of course, will defeat the purpose.

- Cover the area with chicken wire. If you have a small, grass-covered yard, putting down chicken wire will allow the grass to grow while at the same time discouraging cats from digging. Install the chicken wire early in the spring, before the grass has started to grow again. That way, by the time it is time to cut the grass, the chicken wire will be entrenched in the ground and will not interfere with the blades of the lawn mower. To cut the grass, use a higher blade setting so as not to run the risk of entangling the blade with the chicken wire.

- Use cat-repellant agents. There are actually a number of cat-repellant products on the market. Most contain pepper-based products, which will be unpleasant for the cat to ingest and will emit a strong odor, thus keeping the cat off the lawn. These agents can be expensive and must be reapplied after it rains. They can also be irritating to young children, and thus should be avoided if your kids will be apt to play in the area. Orange peels, ground up, can also repel cats. Use your favorite Internet search engine to find cat-repellant agents.

Responsible cat owners have their pets spayed or neutered and monitor their activities. Your neighbor may be unaware that his or her pet is creating a problem for you, and keeping their cat out of your yard may be as simple as letting them know that their pet is bothering you. Of course, this will not ensure strays from entering your yard, and if you live in an area where this is a problem, you will need to institute one of these methods to stop cat-invasion.

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