Tips for Keeping Free-Roaming Cats Out of Your Yard and Garden
Like all outdoor animals, free-roaming cats make their homes where they can find shelter and food. Often this is within close proximity to humans. We understand that not everyone enjoys living with cats and other wildlife in their yards. It is the goal of the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS) to make sure that these community cats are good neighbors. There are many humane ways to discourage unwelcomed visitors. Keep in mind that what might work for one cat, might not work for another. Be willing to try more than one solution. It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig and deposit in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand. Here are some solutions others have found effective in keeping cats away from flower beds and other property.
Wooden chopsticks or 10-inch plant stakes are an inexpensive way to prevent cats from wandering through your flowerbeds. Push the sticks or stakes into flowerbeds every eight inches to discourage digging and scratching.
Scatter orange and lemon peels or spray with a citrus-scented spray. You can also scatter a citrus-scented pet bedding such as Citrafresh. Others have spread onion slices or rings in the affected area.
Coffee grounds and pipe tobacco also work to repel cats. Some people have also found lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil to be effective.
Spray repellent around the edges of the yard, the top of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants. For information call your local animal supply store, such as PetCo in Frankfort, or Tractor Supply.
Try sprinkling "stinky" substances around the problem area, including dried-blood ("blood meal"), fertilizer, or mothballs. (Because moth balls can be toxic, be safe by dropping them into a can or jar, cover, and make a few holes in the cover. Avoid even this usage if small children will be in the yard and could, potentially, open such a can or jar.)
Cover exposed ground in flowerbeds with large attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging (they have the added benefit of deterring weeds). Pine cones work well, too.
Plant the herb “rue” to repel cats, or sprinkle the dried herb over your garden.
Use a motion-activated sprinkler. Any cat coming into the yard will be sprayed but unharmed and it is good for the lawn.
Soak strips of old towels or rags with old perfume and place or hang where the cats are digging.
If the cats do belong to your neighbors, talk to them and try to work things out amicably. Encourage them to keep litter boxes in their houses and yards for the cats to use.
While many free-roaming cats have homes and people who care for them. Others do not. Often, the cats people see in their backyards (or in parks and alleyways) are feral cats. These are homeless animals—previously abandoned or born wild—who are not accustomed to humans, yet are dependent on people for survival. Since feral cats are not tame or socialized, they cannot be placed in homes. If they are trapped and taken to the animal shelter these cats will be killed.
The most humane and effective way to control the population of feral cats is through spaying and neutering. Not only does spay/neuter prevent more homeless kittens from being born, it also decreases unwanted behavior like spraying, fighting, howling, and roaming. Trapping and killing cats, on the other hand, opens up a niche for more cats to move in and is usually only a temporary fix. Adapted from information provided by the ASCPA (www.aspca.org) and Neighborhood Cats (www.neighborhoodcats.org)
The Franklin County Humane Society’s TNR (trap-neuter-return) Program provides low-cost spay/neuter services and vaccinations for Frankfort’s and Franklin County’s feral cats. The sterilized cats, identified by a tipped left ear, are then re-released back into their habitat to be fed and monitored by human caregivers.
You can help us offer this program in Frankfort and Franklin County.
Report feral colonies that have not been sterilized.
Provide food and shelter to feral colonies.
Volunteer to help with trapping, transporting, and working at spay-neuter clinics.
Contribute a tax-deductible donation to the Franklin County Humane Society TNR Program.
For more information about the TNR Program, call the Franklin County Humane Society at 502-875-PAWS (7297), e-mail FranklinTNR@gmail.com, or find us on Facebook.