Living with Neighborhood Cats

Humane deterrents for outdoor/feral cat behavior

Even though we are cat people, we understand that not everyone is and want to be able to help make you happy while also letting the feral neighborhood cats also have a happy life.

The most effective deterrent is motion-activated Sprinkler systems.  These emit an infra-red field that when a cat steps into that field, will fire off a strong burst of water.  The cat generally doesn’t get wet but will be frightened and after a few times, the cat should learn to stay out of that area.  There are also Ultrasonic devices that work similarly to the motion-activated sprinkler systems except it gives off a high frequency sound annoying to cats, but not perceptible by people.  Reports on the effectiveness of Scent repellants are mixed. Chemically based repellents often contain the active ingredient methylnonylketone. Manufacturers claim this ingredient is safe, but also warn the chemical is poisonous and should not be applied to food crops. Because of the possible risks, we recommend naturally-based products. To stop digging (cats like doing their business where they can dig usually in soil) there are Physical deterrents that are either uncomfortable to cat’s paws or fences that are specific for deterring cats.  Below are examples of all of these humane deterrents.




  • coleus caninaCritter Ridder Animal Repellent by Havahart
  • Coleus Caninais known as the “Scaredy- Cat” or “Pee-off” plant because it emits an odor offensive to cats (but not to humans).  There are many varieties of Coleus plants, so be sure to buy the correct type – Coleus Canina.
  • Anecdotal reports indicate some degree of success from sprinkling or dripping in gardens or flower beds one or more of the following items: orange, grapefruit or lemon rinds (cats dislike citrus smells), coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and mustard oil.


  • Cat Scat Mats by Gardener’s Supply
  • Purrfect Fence
  • Cat Fence In
  • Rocks – cover exposed ground with rocks that have rough surfaces to deter a cat from touching or trying to move them.
  • Lattice – lay lattice fencing on the ground prior to planting, then plant flowers or seeds in the openings.

I found a stray cat/kitten, what do I do?

Visit our Feral and Stray Cat Resources page for more information.