Cats can be cuddly, fluffy and lovely. But they can also be annoying: pooping in your flower bed, eating your plants, or having cat fights in your garden. So how do you keep them out of there?
How can you keep cats out of your flower bed? There are a few ways: if the cat is yours, keep it indoors, or encourage it elsewhere. If the cat isn’t yours, get rid of any rodents or birds in your yard, purchase a roller rail fence or an ultrasonic cat deterrent, lay down chicken wire or tin foil where you don’t want the cat to go, plant plants that cats don’t like, or install a motion-sensor sprinkler system. One of these or a combination should stop the cats getting in your garden, either physically or by acting as a deterrent.
The guide below goes through each point in detail—so without further ado, let’s get into them!
Keep Your Cat Indoors
If the cat getting into the garden is your cat, then the best way to keep it out of there is to keep it indoors instead.
Turning an outdoor cat into an indoor cat isn’t easy. That’s because cats enjoy whatever they’re used to. If you raise a cat to live indoors, and never let it outdoors once, it won’t mind at all; it will learn to live its life perfectly happily indoors. But if you raise your cat allowing it to go out, taking away its right to do so would make it unhappy. It would beg at the door to be let out and you’d have to say no. There are a few ways around this, though:
- Don’t give in. If you ever give in to your cat’s begging, it learns that begging works. Not giving in means it learns that it doesn’t.
- Teach your cat to walk in a harness. You can then walk your cat around the yard without letting it in your flower bed, or walk it around the neighborhood.
- Build a ‘run’ for your cat. These are like the kind of run you build for other pets, except bigger. They let your cat experience the outdoors but in a safe way.
It’s best to give your cat some kind of outside time with a run or a harness if you won’t let it out. That’s because cats can become depressed just like people. But if you only let your cat outdoors on your terms, then the entire problem is solved.
Encourage Them Elsewhere
If you can’t stop your cat from going outside, you could at least encourage it to another part of your back yard that you don’t mind it messing up.
One way of doing this is by putting a sandbox down. If your cat likes to get into your yard so that it can dig it up, then it might dig in the sand box instead. The same goes for if it goes to the toilet in your garden. The same applies if it’s other cats getting into your yard! While you don’t want to have to clean up other cats’ messes, it’s at least easier if they leave them in a sand box/litter box rather than around your yard.
You could also set up a small cat-garden that you encourage it to destroy instead of your own. You could make a small space with a few flower boxes filled with plants that cats love, like catnip and cat grass, which it could chew up instead of your plants. With cats being cats, this could backfire as you’re teaching the cat that it’s OK to chew plants in your yard; or, it could redirect their attention from your plants to theirs. It depends on the cat.
Get Rid of Rodents & Birds
Cats are attracted to particular places for all sorts of reasons. But in terms of yards and gardens, cats might like yours better than anybody else’s because your garden has rodents in it. House cats are still natural hunters, so are attracted to areas that have lots of rodents in them. It’s thought that this may have been why cats were first domesticated, because rodents eat at our grain stores, and cats proved useful allies in the fight against them!
As such, if you want to stop cats coming in your yard, getting rid of the rodents would be a good start. There are a few ways to do that; you may choose to use traps, or home remedies like essential oils. That’s not our area of expertise though… You might want to try RatMart!
Cats are similarly attracted to areas where there are lots of birds. If you have a bird feeder in your garden, cats might like to come and watch them eating. Bird populations are declining quickly because of outdooor cats, so try moving the bird feeder somewhere further up in a tree, or getting rid of it altogether.
Get a Roller Rail Fence
There are a few different names for these things, and they’re sold under lots of brand names too. But a roller rail fence is basically a regular fence with a special roller bar at the top of it. It’s like a high-security fence except instead of razor wire, it has a bar that spins on an axle at the top.
The point is that if a cat tries to jump and catch hold of the bar, it will roll under its paws. As it can’t catch a grip, it can’t climb your fence and get in your yard. These work both to keep cats in and to keep cats out.
There may still be other ways in, but these are also fixed by getting a new fence. For example:
- Get a fence without gaps, or with gaps that are too close together for cats to fit through
- Make sure there aren’t any gaps between the fence and the gate, and that the gate is similarly fitted with a roll-top bar
- Make sure the cats can’t dig under the fence to get in
As such don’t expect this to be a perfect solution. But they do at least stop cats getting in over your fence.
Ultrasonic Cat Deterrent
An ultrasonic device is something that emits a sound inaudible to the human ear, typically one that’s too high-pitched. These high-pitched noises can be heard, though, by cats. And since cats have very sensitive hearing, these noises can drive them crazy. If you put one of these devices in your yard, then, the neighborhood cats will stop coming round.
The problem with these devices is if the cats next door can hear them. These cats may be minding their own business in their own home, and never visit your yard, but would be driven crazy by the constant noise. It would be like somebody standing outside your house tooting an air horn that only you can hear! You should therefore be a considerate neighbor and make sure either to try another method if necessary, or consult with your neighbors in a friendly way about whether this is a viable option.
Chicken Wire At Ground Level
Chicken wire is a clever way to keep cats out. You might think they can easily jump over the stuff, and that’s true. But you’re thinking on the Y axis when you should be thinking on the X axis!
What you can do is run chicken wire at ground level from one side of your garden to another. The point is that plants can easily grow through it, and you can still easily water and feed them. But if a cat were to try and walk on it, it would be enormously uncomfortable.
It’s not supposed to poke at or spike the cat, just make it uncomfortable if it stands there. Be sure that there aren’t any sharp edges or pointy bits otherwise the cat could get hurt, and its owner wouldn’t be happy.
You can do the same thing with bird netting. Bird netting is like chicken wire, but is made from fabric rather than metal. That makes it easier to deal with. You have to put the netting at a raised level, because it keeps cats away by physically blocking off an area rather than being uncomfortable to stand on. But cats being cats, they might leap on it and wreck your whole setup anyway.
Lay Down Some Aluminum Foil
Cats hate walking on kitchen foil.
This isn’t something a lot of people know, but if you’ve seen some cat compilation videos on YouTube, you may have seen cats react to standing on some. It’s an unfamiliar feeling and sound to a cat, so when they’re expecting their paws to hit hard counter top after they leap up, feeling aluminum foil makes them jump. Their reaction—jumping away as high into the air as they can—seems to display a real hatred of the stuff. So, if you have a problem with cats climbing onto your shed, you could consider lining your shed roof with aluminum foil.
The problem is that the reaction doesn’t depend on a static electric shock, physical pain, or anything like that. It’s just that the feeling is unfamiliar. As such, the cat/cats could get used to the feeling and walk over it anyway.
Motion-Activated Water Sprinklers
It’s a tale as old as time: cats hate a) water and b) surprises. A motion-activated water sprinkler therefore ticks two of those boxes. When it senses a cat nearby it will shoot out a quick spray and the cat will dart off.
There are a couple of problems with this approach. The first is if you forget to turn the system off when you head outside, and get a faceful of water, like the cat did. But on a more serious note, unless you have an extensive sprinkler system, it won’t reach every corner of your garden; the cat may learn quickly that there’s a certain area to avoid, while still making use of the rest of your yard.
Are There Plants That Repel Cats?
There are lots of plants that supposedly repel cats, and which planted in a garden, may keep cats from going there. Cats famously dislike orange peel for example, but as for whether orange peel dotted around your garden would keep cats away is another thing altogether.
Maybe the most famous plants that people plant to repel cats are marigolds. Certain kinds of marigold are toxic to cats, and can cause mild gastrointestinal distress when eaten; it’s thought that cats can smell them and want to stay away. But as is often the case with home remedies, it’s unclear how much this works. There’s no harm in planting some as they’re pretty enough for a flower bed anyway!
Buy a Water Gun
If all else fails, and your neighbor cats just won’t leave you alone, you might have to take drastic steps! Soaking the cat with a water gun would be a good way to instantly discourage it from coming to your yard again. That’s not to mention how much fun it would be to finally get some low-level revenge…
This isn’t the ideal way to deal with your own cat. You need to build up a bond of trust with your own cat, and doing things like this makes them dislike you. But making the neighbor cat dislike you isn’t a problem. Just be prepared to explain yourself when your neighbor storms around!
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