How to keep stray cats out of your yard

You’re sitting in your backyard when suddenly an unexpected feline guest stops by. You are not sure who owns this cat, if it is friendly, or how to politely discourage it from coming around.

If this sounds like something you’ve experienced lately, it’s time to deal with the stray cats that keep wandering onto your property. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have plenty of ideas for respectfully and humanely urging unwanted feline visitors to stay away.

Why are strays a problem?

angry cat looking straight at the camera
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Cats are a particularly independent animal species. They love to do their own thing, and this trait is magnified many times over when they are born and raised in the wild. While truthfully, it doesn’t matter if the cats you are trying to get out of your yard belong to a neighbor or are feral wanderers of the land, it’s your property, and you have the right to determine who is allowed to spend time there.

Wild, unsupervised cats can be a bit of a nuisance because they will frequently cause trouble by attacking animals on your property, using your gardening plots as bathrooms, and perhaps trying to get a little too friendly with your other guests. If left to run wild on your property, you might soon find unwanted kittens in a garage or fleas on the pets you did lovingly choose to bring home. To be honest, it’s perfectly understandable not to want stray cats wandering into your yard.

All this being said, you are probably wondering what can be done about this issue. You’ve tried shushing and politely urging the cats away, but they just keep on coming back. Consider some of the following approaches to reclaiming your property from neighborhood strays and feral cats that continue to encroach and make themselves at home.

Reclaiming your property starts now

First and foremost, you will want to inspect your property and try to determine what is attracting cats in the first place. If they have access to food, shelter, and other creature comforts, that could be the cause of their visits. Make sure that if you are feeding your own pets outside, you immediately cease and desist so that no leftovers are left behind to feed the whole neighborhood.

Make sure that any garbage cans, grills, or picnic leftovers that you may have enjoyed are secured tightly. Hungry and feral animals can be attracted to your yard because of the irresistible food smells they pick up. Even if you haven’t left any food out in some time, cats are very intelligent and can easily remember where they smelled something particularly yummy.

cooking burgers on a grill
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Next, be sure to check that all areas of shelter are inaccessible to your unwanted feline guests. That means ensuring that garage doors, sheds, and other areas, such as woodpiles, are no longer open for these visitors to stop by and set up camp. Check under decks and porches, too — these are places where cats will often hide. Board up these areas to ensure they no longer serve as hotels for cats around your area.

Put an end to any romance by ensuring that any female cats on your property are spayed. This process will make local male cats less likely to come around in search of a romantic rendezvous with your beloved pet. Spaying also helps to reduce the number of feral cats in your community by ensuring more unwanted kittens do not continue the cycle of feral, wild living.

Send a stronger message this time

To take things to the next level, consider using natural products to repel the cats from your property. Things like ammonia, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, citrus peels, and coffee grounds can double as great compost for your garden while also introducing smells to your yard that cats simply cannot stand.

orange cut into three pieces
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Scaring stray cats away with motion-activated sirens and lights can work in some situations. A lower-tech solution is to ring a bell or bang on a metal can with a spatula from your kitchen. Cats are naturally quite skittish and can scare easily if they hear loud sounds. It might only take a little noise to ensure the cats get the message that your property is now off-limits for their adventures.

Do your best to find a humane solution

If the problem persists, make sure to address the topic with other neighbors in your community. If you have taken many of the above steps, but your neighbor continues to feed the wild cats every night, it’s easy to understand why they keep coming around. Also, when you bring this kind of topic up with neighbors, people often have similar experiences, and you might be able to build a neighborhood coalition dedicated to humanely removing the unwanted guests.

After you’ve tried all of the above tips, you might simply need the assistance of local animal control experts. They will be able to recommend humane traps available on the market and will even help you to set some to ensure the cats are captured and released to a no-kill animal shelter in your community.

As much of a nuisance as feral cats can be, most people are not interested in actually harming them. That is why, if your problem continues to escalate, we recommend contacting either an animal control professional in your area or a no-kill shelter. Typically, these commercial operations and community organizations will be able to best advise you about what is possible in your local community.

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