7 October 2016
I recently looked out of my bedroom window and spotted one of the local cat population wandering about on my raised vegetable beds. I rushed outside to discuss the matter but it disappeared over the garden fence. This started me thinking about what can be done to keep cats out of the garden, so I have listed some of the most popular methods, though it is easier to keep cats off specific areas than off the premises altogether.
Cats are world-class jumpers and climbers and will soon get over fences and walls, so you will struggle to secure the perimeter of your garden. However there are flexible garden fence and wall strips which you can buy at garden centres, DIY superstores and online garden retailers, which may help. These are made from a strong bendy rubber material, are easy to install and can be cut to size according to the size and shape of your garden. They won't injure cats but will deter them from climbing.
A cheaper alternative is to fix lines of string along the top of the fence, which makes it harder for cats to walk along the top. Carpet gripper should also work.
Fencing off or placing netting over a vegetable garden isn't always possible or totally effective. As cats dislike obstacles, planting sticks in the ground around the edge of your vegetable beds may discourage them from entering and digging. One suggestion is to use wooden kebab skewers.
If cats in your garden are scratching up seedbeds, try putting a galvanised chicken-wire cage over the area and keep it in position until the plants are of a reasonable size.
A popular cat deterrent for keeping them off a specific area is to scatter cuttings from thorny plants, such as roses, berberis or pyracantha, around the edge.
Another solution is an old gamekeeper's trick. Place half-full plastic bottles in borders, as the light reflection off the bottle is supposed to deter animals. As an alternative try using unwanted CDs threaded on twine with knots in between to keep them apart. When strung across flower beds or hanging from trees they will also provide a source of light reflection which may deter cats.
Some gardeners swear by putting a couple of drops of decongestant Olbas oil on to used teabags and then scattering them around the area that the cats have chosen to use as a litter tray.
Try not to leave areas of exposed soil, but instead, mulch with stone chipping or pebbles, or keep the soil well mulched with a moisture-retaining material such as manure, as wet ground is not particularly attractive to cats. Also, plant a good selection of ground cover species to deter cats from venturing into your border.
Cats don't like some scented plants, such as lavender and rosemary. Other plants and herbs with a good track record for acting as cat deterrents in gardens include garlic, rue, citronella, chives and geraniums. Try planting these liberally among your vegetables.
Cats dislike the strong, sharp smells of citrus peels such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Sprinkling vinegar and rubbing raw onions in key parts of the garden have also been known to keep cats at bay. Try grating and sprinkling citrus peels in areas you wish to keep cats away from, such as where seedlings may be growing.
Another smelly deterrent is to place mothballs inside empty milk cartons which have a few holes made in them.
Continuing the smelly theme, some people recommend sprinkling chilli powder, or you can invest in Essence of Lion Dung.
There are various ultra-sonic cat scarers on the market, but the jury is out on the long-term effectiveness of some of them. It's best only to choose devices recommended by animal welfare organisations such as the RSPB.
As a last resort you could get a cat of your own, preferably a tom, as this would deter other cats from entering your garden.
I hope you find at least one of the above suggestions works in your garden.