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Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden
Do cat repellants work? How to prevent 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 right 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 prevent low level access. But cats can jump, so attach taut wire or rope about six inches above the top of your fence to prevent such access.
When they enter your garden, many people say that the best repellent for cats is a dog that will quickly chase away any feline attacker. If you are not a dog lover, you will have to resort to more passive methods. Since cats like to lie on freshly dug soil, you should apply mulch to the borders so that bare soil is not exposed. The seed beds should be covered with wire mesh or twigs placed as an obstacle.
Young trees should have plastic guards around the trunk to protect them from being used as a scratching post.
Your garden pond must be covered with netting to keep your fish safe.
It’s common knowledge that cats don’t like water, so a well-aimed bucket or hose stream will surely make an intruder flee. After one or two drubbings, he may learn his lesson and stay away.
Mothballs and citrus are said to be effective plant and border protection agents. Place mothballs, orange peel or lemon peel in the borders. Alternatively, spray the cloths with orange-scented air freshener and place the cloths 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 plants are said to deter cats. Especially rue, but not catnip which has the opposite effect. Coleus canina is another plant sold by a merchant as a cat repellent.
Television’s Jerry Baker suggested treating your yard with a tonic made from chewing tobacco, urine, birth control pills, mouthwash, molasses, detergent and beer. A smallholder 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 on 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 releases a stream of water to scare the animal away. It is claimed that after one or two encounters with the jet, the cat will learn to avoid the area.
Ultrasound devices emit a high-frequency sound that is unpleasant for cats (and dogs) but inaudible to humans. There are different models, some of which work continuously, while others have an infrared detector and only emit a pulse of sound when the cat activates the device. To be successful, you need to ensure that the model is strong enough to cover the area you want to protect. Additionally, check that the sound frequency is designed for larger animals as some models are designed to deter insects and would not be useful for cats.
There are also commercial cat repellants. Those that use chemicals should be kept away from any food crops, but essential oil-based granule types work in the same way as the orange and lemon peels mentioned above. Another way to keep cats out of the garden is with a repellent vaporizer, which consists of a container containing puffed rice that has been impregnated with essential oils. They are effective for three to four weeks and can then be refilled for a further period. Another natural product that many people claim really keeps cats out of the garden is lion dung. You may have to visit your local zoo to get one, although some stores have petting zoos.
In Ontario, Canada, a local municipality offers a cat trap service. Once the animal enters the cage, it cannot escape, but it is completely unharmed. The owner must pay to retrieve their pet and therefore should be encouraged not to let the cat wander in the future. Apparently, few owners put more effort into getting their cats back than just getting another kitten. However, this sounds like a good way to deal with a cat that cannot be deterred 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 a whole range of suggested cat repellants, from homemade recipes to expensive commercial devices. I suggest you try orange peel and prickly twigs to start with. If you are nearby when the intruder appears, try a bucket of water or a hose. Even if you miss, the shock can be enough of a deterrent. If this fails, you may need to consider commercial alternatives.
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