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Is There A Humane Way To Keep Neighborhood Cats Out Of Your Yard?

By Gary Bogue
Friday, October 21st, 2005 at 1:45 pm in Animals, Cats, Pets, wild birds, Wildlife.

I knew this subject was going to pop up sooner or later. I just got this note from Pat in Antioch, Ca.:

"Any chance of adding a topic to your blog? Maybe someone else has had luck with a problem kitty! A neighbor’s cat frequents my yard (jumping over at least two fences to get here), and while my bird feeders are (hopefully) out of his reach, I still worry about my feathered friends. I’ve talked to his owner, but to no avail. I realize it’s not HIS fault that his owners are of THAT mentality, but I must admit, I’m liking him less as time goes on."

OK, cat "lovers," please pass along your hopefully helpful and always humane solutions for resolving the universal and seemingly never-ending problem of keeping cats out of your yard. (Just click on "Comments" at the end of this section and have your say.)

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35 Responses to “Is There A Humane Way To Keep Neighborhood Cats Out Of Your Yard?”

  1. Wendi R Says:

    You’re lucky you just have ONE cat who has “adopted” you! We are the only owners of our home and in the last year it appear that we have two cats who actually think they live with us. The sleep on the bench out front, they sleep in the back yard and terrorize our senior citizen Dalmatian, as well as make messes and occasionally dig things up. AND, they have been seen eating the baby lizards who used to enjoy sunning themselves on what we called, “lizard rock,”
    not to mention the doves we have each year have to be more and more creative to find safe homes for their families. I don’t like cats in the same way I don’t like unruly kids or teens. They ought to be licensed, and kept indoors, or in the country!
    P.S. I don’t think there is any way except to have Animal Services provide you with traps, which I think you have to return to them in person. Not worth the hassle…

  2. Pat in Antioch Says:

    I have to admit, letting the dog out more often is becoming a common practice. (Getting her off the couch sometimes is tough though! :-) He even sprays on the outside of the storm door which drives my indoor cats nuts! An ironic twist to this is that this is this neighbors 4th cat since they moved into the neighborhood about a year and a half ago. The owner went door to door once looking for the cat who’d been missing for about 5 days at the time. (He obviously wandered home at some point.) But the other 3 cats just “disappeared.” Well, DUH….I asked him if he ever considered keeping them inside and you all know the answer I got!
    So sad!!

  3. LIZ Says:

    I PLANTED CATNIP IN ONE CORNER OF OUR YARD, AND THE CATS LOST ALL INTEREST IN DIGGING ANYWHERE ELSE. WE HAD 14 BARN CATS AT THE TIME. I KEEP MY CATS INDOORS NOW, BUT THEY ARE NOT AS HEALTHY AS THE CATS WHO GO IN AND OUT, (THOSE 14 BARN CATS ARE 15-22 YEARS OLD NOW, HOUSE CATS ONLY LIVE ABOUT 13 YEARS). THERE ARE ALSO NOISEMAKERS THAT ANNOY CATS, WHICH HUMANS CANNOT HEAR, BUT THAT DOES NOT WORK IF YOU HAVE A DOG, IT DRIVES THEM BATTY, TOO.
    GOOD LUCK, BUT DONT HURT THE CAT.

  4. Pat in Antioch Says:

    Never would HURT the cat….also, guess I’ve been lucky as far as my indoor cats go, (although when working at a vet’s, I NEVER heard that outdoor cats live longer; quite the contrary.) Mine (all indoor) were 16, 18 & 19 when they passed away. I currently have a 13 year old, a 14 year old & 2 babies (4 & 9) also indoors and all fat & sassy!! :-)

  5. Deborah in Livermore Says:

    I am at my wits end, as well as my neighbors in our cul de sac. A neighbor two houses down has around 7 cats/kittens that roam in all our yards, except where there are outside dogs. These cats leave there dumps everywhere!! I’ve tried cat repellent, cayenne pepper, nothing works! What can be done??

  6. germaine Says:

    You might want to put a cat fence up. It will keep the cats out of your yard. You can do it yourself and it’s pretty cheap to do. Just search online under cat fencing and you can get the instructions on how to build and what supplies to buy. I hope this information helps.

  7. Lily Says:

    You may want to divert their attention to your back yard by planting catnip, filling a bowl with dry food or treats, in another area on the other side of your fence. I’ve had many stray cats in my neighborhood; all ending up in my yard at some point, I created a barrier around my house and fence by putting these things, it has helped. I moved my bird feeders to another area to lessen the attention getting. The cats have moved on–and I am hoping they have found better digs or a new family to take them in.

    Good Luck.

  8. Matt Says:

    My neighborhood has about three cats that just roam around. I know who they belong to, but I just haven’t confronted him. The worst part is that they don’t just come into my yard, but they also like to sit on top of cars (my cars). And in doing so they put nice little scratches in my cars and foot prints all over them too. I can’t think of anything to do with these darn cats. I have considered calling animal control and see what are my options. But something tells me that they won’t be able to do anything to help me. Does anybody know of anything at all to help my problem?

  9. Merle Forde Says:

    My next door neighbor has 7 huge cats that are constantly jumping on my rooftop day and night. Can anyone help me with this problem? I am at my wits end.

  10. Gail McNamara Says:

    I have 2 cats whom I let go in and out of my
    own backyard only. My problem is a neighbor cat who comes into the yard to terrorize them.
    I am trying this to keep him out:
    Posts cut about 1 foot high from 2 x 2 lumber that stand vertical on top of the existing fence. They cannot be attached to the edge of the top of the fence or the cat will simply walk along behind it instead of finding it a barricade.
    They are attached with an angle iron. Stapled to the post is about a 1 ft. high piece of chicken wire stretched tightly between that post and the next one about 2ft. further down on the fence top. The top of the chicken wire section has no post laying across it horizontally, or the cat simply walks across that.
    I know there are cat fences to buy out there but this is a cheaper version. I’m trying it to see if it works. I’m doing it in all the areas of the fence where I see this cat coming and going mostly. I may put a little elsewhere too that I think my cats may try to get out from the inside although so far they never have tried. They have enough places to hide and explore in my yard. They’e quite happy.

  11. Wayne Lee Says:

    We have the same problem in our neighborhood. We have confronted the owner of the problem cats (who poop everywhere in our yards, scratch our cars, taunt our pets and go in our homes when we’re not looking) and they simply said they can’t keep them in and that WE should all get cat fences. Animal control told us to start trapping them humanely and bring them in. We did so, and the owner went on a rampage verbally assaulting whoever they could find on our street that complained about it. Even after getting visits from animal control, they did not comply. It’s a very upsetting situation, and unfortunately, hard to deal with even though there are laws in place requiring cats to stay on their own property. I certainly wouldn’t let my dogs go in people’s backyards and poop. What is it with people????

  12. M. D. Reynolds Says:

    We don’t want to hurt cats either, but we’ve had enough of them roaming around our yard because their moron owners won’t keep them at home. They even come up on our porch where we have flower pots. There is one sure way to permanently rid our yard of stray cats which is what will take place if the owners don’t get their act together and keep their lousy cats at home.

  13. Gary Bogue Says:

    M.D. Reynolds:
    I understand your frustration … but why should the cats have to pay the ultimate price because their owners are being inconsiderate? The cats are just being cats. Their lousy owners are being jerks. /Gary

  14. M. D. Reynolds Says:

    Yes they are, however, if you don’t know who the owner is and can speak to them, then something must be done. I understand it isn’t the cats’ fault, but it does get to be overwhelming. I have no plans to poison any of them really, but I sure would like to know what else I can do to effectively keep them out of our yard.

  15. Gary Bogue Says:

    M.D.:
    I have a large garden in Benicia, CA, and also used to have major cat problems. Then I picked up about 5 catnip plants in 4-inch pots at the local nursery ($2/pot). I planted them in an out-of-the-way corner of my yard. They grew into a beautiful little catnip garden. The cats immediately headed for the ‘nip, sniffed and ate some (produces a high in most cats similar to marijuana in humans). The cats would then forget why they initially came to my yard and wobble back home and pee/poop in their own yards. The morning catnip visit is now on their schedule and the cat poop/pee problems in my yard have been cut 80+ percent. I’ve written about this in my column and reader response indicates those who have done this have had the same response as I have. I’ve been doing this for 4 years and have a beautiful garden and minimal to NO cat problems. /Gary

  16. M. D. Reynolds Says:

    Thanks you, Gary. We will try that.

  17. winston Says:

    i have 4 dogs fenced in yard and spend alot of money every month to keep them flea & worm free.i dont want cats in my yard bringing in either to my pets.humane ways to keep cats out not a concern for thier owners or they would keep them inside,but they dont want fleas in ther house these cat owners dont need pets.i have one cat who is NEVER outside. so not my place to plant cat nip to keep other cats out of my yard.i will trap and make the trip to animal control ,cats will most likley be put down if there owners dont care enough to keep cats indoor do you think they speend mony on vaccines.

  18. Gary Bogue Says:

    Winston:
    I understand your concern and anger at the cats that keep coming into your yard. I still think it would be better for you to plant the catnip. It’s not the cats’ fault that they are allowed to come into your yard, it’s the fault of their owners. Trapping the cats and taking them to the pound, while legal (as long as you use humane traps) is punishing the cats but not the people. The cats most likely will be killed. Innocent victims of uncaring humans. Please think about it. Thanks. /Gary

  19. Jennie Says:

    Gary, I am now an official cat hater! They have destroyed my veggie, herb and wildflower gardens for the last time. Owners asked at least three times, I am done and have no sympathy for the stinkin cats. Pick up a few dead squirrels with punture marks all over, pick up some dead song birds – the beautiful chickadees, goldfinches, see how it feels to do that! Oh and they’re climbing the trees and destroying the nests, pick up some nests too. Pick up cat crap out of your gardens making your way through the flies and smell. They have ruined my porch furniture, they attack my cats, they are under my porch, how’d you like that smell? No more cats on my property and I could care less that they’ll be killed. I am trapping any and all cats, all set up with animal control!!!! Please keep your stinkin freakin cats in YOUR house. They can be retrained, they are a menace to the neighborhood and I for one will not stand for it one more minute! I will drink a toast for each one, screw them and their owners!

  20. Jennie Says:

    ah shucks, I have small dogs, they attack my dogs – that is incorrect in my post above.

  21. Judith Says:

    HI Jennie,’

    If you go to Amazon.com, there is an invention that will help you. I have used it and swear by it. It is called a Motion Detector Sprinkler. It has an infrared eye that detects motion up to 500 feet away, and when it detects any animal it lets out a spray of water directly at them with no warning. Cats hate water sprayed at them and if it happens a couple of times they will usually stay away.You can even add a little lemon juice to the water to drive the point home. Cats hate it and it wont hurt them. You might purchase two and ask your neighbor to go in on them with you using keeping the peace and keeping their cats safe as a negotiating tool. Cats can be trained but you have to be there to catch them first. With this product you dont have to be there because its a sentinel night and day. I hope it works for you!

    Here is the product on Amazon.com

    http://www.amazon.com/Contech-Electronics-CRO101-Scarecrow-Motion-Activated/dp/B000071NUS

  22. Laurel Says:

    I live in the country and have never had a cat problem until a neighbor moved in. She feeds a “feral” cat, which comes to my property to terrorize my aviary birds. Now it is terrorizing the California Quail I’ve been nurturing and feeding for many, many years, and scaring them away. When her cat first showed up here she said there was nothing she could do to contain it, suggested I spray it with water. but the darn thing is so fast and so wary, it knows I don’t want it here and it runs away as soon as I see it. But it keeps coming back and is now on a binge at my quail & wild bird feeding stations (not inside a fence). I don’t want to set up a motion sprinkler as it would also scare away the wildlife. What to do?? If I plant catnip on my property closer to where he gets fed (neighbor’s) will that maybe take care of it? I don’t want to set up a war with the neighbor.

  23. Gary Bogue Says:

    Laurel: I’d try planting a little catnip garden (6 plants or so; you can pick up 4-inch pots at the local plant nursery pretty cheap)close to the spot where their cat enters your yard. The cat should start regularly visiting the catnip, getting a snootful, feeling good, and head back home to sleep it off. This works for me in keeping cats from coming into my yard and pooping/peeing in my garden. They have so much fun enjoying the catnip, they forget why they came over in the first place. Good luck. /Gary

  24. Jennifer Says:

    WHY should I have to do ANYTHING to keep SOMEONE ELSES CATS out of MY YARD!!!!????
    I will not plant catnip to keep them at the edge of MY YARD, so it doesnt shit on my porch in my flower pots like one did this morning… I will NOT SPEND ANY OF MY MONEY to build a “cat fence”…. If the owners dont care enough to keep them at their house and not in my yard, then I dont care if they get put down at the humane society. I didnt adopt them and I dont want a cat…why should I care what happens to them??
    The humane trapping is the best idea thats out there…only flaw in it tho is what if the owners get them back before they are put down?? Then I have to do it all over again!!! THESE ARE NOT MY CATS AND I SHOULDNT BE THE ONE HAVING TO DO ANYTHING TO CONTROL THEM!

  25. Arlene Says:

    Whoa, you sound very angry. the cats may be feral cats look at their ears and see if the left one has been clipped, if so they are feral and don’t belong to anyone.
    I have many feral cats in my neighborhood and we just had 15 of them spayed, nuetered and released.
    There are benefits to the feral cat community, we no longer have roof rats, also I think I might get some fruit from my trees as the squirells no longer hang out here. I have cats of my own and they do not go outside as it is very dangerous for them.
    Do you know who owns the cats? if so speak to them

  26. Jaqi Says:

    Hey guys, I love the catnip idea. Also heard that cats don’t like mint. I have cats, love cats, but not in my flower beds, around the pool where the kids play and certainly not where my little dog can munch on some “kittie crunchies” Yes, dogs will eat it. So I will try some of the above mentioned ideas. Can’t we all just get along?

  27. Ray Says:

    I am about ready to try everything short of poisioning my neighbor’s cats. They have 5 cats but one “just can’t stand being inside” so they have an outdoor house for him and he doesn’t go inside. We have a dog who just goes berzerk everytime the cat teases him walking around the fence. So far the cat has dug up nearly all the mulch around my trees, killed some myrtle by my front door, and peed on several bushes that have died as a result. I pick up cat poop on a daily basis. I’m awoken almost nightly because my dog or the neighbor’s dog is outside barking through the fence at the cat who has clearly figured out the dog can’t escape the fence.

    My neighbor’s have a dog and the cat pees all over their front yard too. You can SMELL the cat pee odor, and it is not pleasant. Often at 3AM or 4AM my dog and/or the neigbhor’s dog will go outside and bark for 10-20 minutes. I used to run outside and make my dog come back in, but it’s too frequent now to bother. I’m sure that the neighbor’s think our dog is obnoxious, but if the cat would stay away he wouldn’t have to go bark his head off at it at all hours of the night.

    I came home late last weekend- nearly midnight, and the stupid thing was laying in my driveway. I can’t beep at it because it’s midnight and really considered running it over- but I didn’t awnt to dispose of the evidence. If that happened no the street, there’d be cat roadkill.

    People who own outdoor cats are completely inconsiderate. Cats are devils. There has GOT to be a law soon that bans this practice, or I’m going to get my gun and take care of this problem once and for all in my neighborhood.

    If that cat goes anywhere near my garden I will throw it down the sewer manhole in front of my house.

  28. Ray Says:

    I forgot to mention, that once my dog dug out under our fence to chase the cat down. And that cat scratched the *$(% out of my dog’s face. We approached the neighbors to pay for the vet bill, but they said our dog was in their yard… you gotta be kidding me! Where do you think your cat spends nearly all of it’s time???? MY YARD!

    So far I’ve spent about $100 replacing plants/bushes that the cat has killed from peeing on them and replanting dead grass. I’ve got my dog an electric fence combined with the regular fence so that he can’t dig out of it again in pursuit of the cat. Maybe I will acidentally spill some anti-freeze. I can’t afford this much longer as the economy stinks, I just took a pay cut and my wife is laid off.

  29. Lorraine Says:

    I have a problem a bit different from all that I read above. I have a little dog, an old cat and a kitten. I want the kitten to stay in my fenced yard but she jumps over the fence and visits the neighbors. The second problem is that one of my neighbor’s cats jumps over the fence and comes through the pet door and sleeps here as if he is my cat.

    How do I keep my kitten in and keep my neighbor’s cat out? I have to have the pet door for my dog so removing that is NOT an option.

    I love all animals and I’m a very responsible pet owner. My three pets get their shots, meds, grooming, etc. I ACTUALLY WANT MY KITTEN TO STAY IN OUR YARD!!! I think lots of cat owners feel the same way, but cats being cats, they escape. Right now, my kitten is somewhere in the mobile home park and my neighbor’s cat is sleeping on the couch. I put him out once but he returned. His owner kept him inside for several days and he cried continuously. WHAT DO WE DO???

  30. Marlie Says:

    I have a number of cat owners in my neighbourhood that feel that it is cruel to keep their cats inside but they appreciate the fact that my dog is in her yard and that I pick up after her when we are out walking. My poor old girl has been attacked twice in her own yard by cats but luckily they have missed her eyes. I have had to build a chicken wire fence around my vegi garden to keep them out but they still pee around all my doors and it stinks. I use to like cats. But I am with Jennifer and Ray why do I have to spend $100 per sprinkler to keep cats out of my yard or out of my carport. My dog is not allowed by law to roam and disturb other people but cats are allowed more rights than I am. They kill birds, ruin gardens, harass other animals with no consequence

  31. nancy Says:

    I like cats and i don’t really mind them coming around the yard but my hubby hates them. when he see our neighbor two cats in our yards he’ll run outside like a crazy maniac and chase the cats away. what my hubby hates most is that the cat only peeing in our yard and not in their yard.
    so if anyone know an easy and cheap way to get rid of the cats please let me know too.
    thanks..

  32. toote Says:

    My new neighbor moved in and bought 2 cats for their children. Their cats came over to my property doing business daily. I talked the husband and wive them 3 times, but they did not take care anything at all.
    I kept cleaning their cat poops a whole year and really frustrating of the cat owner.
    I stop talking to them more than a year….and seeming become an enemy because of the cats.
    I bought the trap laying in my property, but no successful.
    I use all kind of different peppers to spray their routine spots…but it lasted only one week, then their cats coming back again….even they move around to different spots.

    I hope someone could help me out.
    I don’t know what to do at this point.

    Best Regards

  33. toote Says:

    My new neighbor moved in and bought 2 cats for their children. Their cats came over to my property doing business daily. I talked the husband and wive 3 times, but they did not take care anything at all.
    I kept cleaning up their cat poops a whole year and really frustrating of the cats owner.
    I stop talking to them more than a year….and seeming become a stranger (a cold war)because of the cats.
    I bought the animal trap and trying to catch them in my property, but no successful.
    I use all kind of different peppers to spray their routine spots…but it lasted only one week, then their cats coming back again…even they move around to bombard different spots.

    I hope someone could help me out.
    I don’t know what to do at this point.
    It’s very frustrating of this no-class people.

    Your advice is great appreciated!

    Best Regards

  34. DB Says:

    Glock .45 will work

  35. ironically, Cat Says:

    we have feral(stray) and neighbors’ cats that come and do business in our yard. We bought a live trap and have caught all ferals and a couple of the neighbors’ cats. one of cats TWiCE!

    The problem once you catch a neighbor’s cat is what to DO about it. We opted to teach a lesson by calling animal control who actually came to pick it up since it was in our trap. One had tags and collar and for the owner was a “free” pickup with a lecture about keeping their cat indoors. It was out the next day.
    The other time it happened the cat didn’t have tags (‘they fell off just that day, wouldn’tyou know?’) and it cost the owner $60 to pick up the cat who then also contracted a respiratory infection in the pound. THAT cat is back out roaming the neighborhood (and our yard) still to this day.

    All this to say: traps don’t work on domesticated cats. Use them to take care of ferals (and the occasional coon which are the roof-walkers in our ‘hood), but for the neighbors’ cats? I think we’re going to try the motion-detecting sprinkler next!

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