II Behaviorproblems - outside

The following subject will be discussed.

Cats OutsideLocal Attack Cats
Your GardenKeeping Your Cat in Your Yard


Cats Outside

Outside cats, especially those not your own, can present you with difficult problems. Cats are not regarded the way dogs are under law: there is usually nothing that says you have the "right" to keep cats out of your yard, for example (whereas dogs can be required to be kept confined or on leash, for example). There are historical and practical reasons for this -- but there are still practical steps you can take to resolve several problems. The following is written primarily for people who want to stop other cats (i.e., not their own) from being a nuisance on their property. As a cat owner, you should consider ways to minimize your cat annoying your neighbors. You could keep your cat inside, supervise your cat when outside, bring it inside at night, etc. All cats allowed to roam outside should, of course, be neutered.


Mating cats can make an unbelievable amount of noise under your window. If these cats are feral, check with your local animal clinic about trapping and neutering these cats. Many will do them at little or no cost, depending on how many cats you're willing to bring in for the procedure. Eliminating the breeding stock in feral cats as much as possible will also help reduce the stray population in your area over time, and reduce similar problems like cat fights and spraying. If the cats involved are owned by your neighbors, you might try a non-confrontational approach -- let them know what their cat has been doing and suggest that perhaps neutering their cat might help solve some of these problems. A politely worded note can be left on their door if you wish to avoid direct confrontation. You might eventually call Animal Control in your area for help, but first let them know you are having problems with their cat.

Your Garden

Between digging and eating in your plants, cats can do considerable damage to a garden. There are a number of ways to keep cats from digging in, chewing on, or eliminating in your garden. Some people have successfully used the "diversionary" tactic by planting catnip in another corner of the garden entirely, confining the destruction to one spot. If you have not yet started your garden, put chicken wire down and plant between the wire. Cats dislike walking on the chicken wire and most plants (unless they grow too big) do just fine growing between the wire. Other people have reported success with different sprays, gels, and products specifically formulated to keep animals out of your yard. Check your local pet store. Lemon peels, soap slivers (use biodegradeable soap) dipped in cayenne pepper and other organic materials have also been reportedly successful. Cats hate water: surprising them with a squirt gun (or turning your sprinklers on) can discourage specific cats from returning. One reader reported success in putting up cast-iron cut-out cats with marble eyes in strategic places in her yard. The decorative cats were apparently real enough to cats that they kept clear of her yard. Try looking around hardware stores or gardening stores for these. Lifesize cat statues might work as well.

Local Attack Cats

Sometimes there is a problem with a particular cat that fights with other cats. If it is feral, try to make arrangements to neuter it, if possible. If it belongs to a neighbor, try to discuss the matter with your neighbor, and avoid being "threatening." When approached reasonably, most people can be reasonable in turn. Sometimes your neighbor just doesn't know his cat is bothering you. If the cat actually follows your cat through the pet door, you might try an electronic pet door to keep it out.

Your Birdfeeder

Locate your birdfeeder in an area where the ground is clear, affording cats no cover. At the same time, try to locate it under something, like a tree, to provide refuge from attack by other birds.

Keeping Your Cat in Your Garden

Cats are very good at scaling fences. But if you have a yard that is otherwised fenced in, you can try keeping your cat from going over the fence by attaching corrougated fiberglass to the top of it. There is then no purchase for the cat to pull itself up. It is even possible to find different colors of the fiberglass to keep it inconspicuous. Keep in mind, though, that many cats are clever climbers and high jumpers and may circumvent anything short of a yard totally enclosed and roofed over with chicken wire. You can try making an overhang on the top of the fence, if you cat cannot jump directly to the top of it. Use large bookshelf type angle brackets and drape netting or screening on it, to create an unstable barrier. There are some "invisible fence" products for cats, where the perimiter of the yard is marked with a wire that will activate an electric collar on the the cat. Do not use these without supervision, and ideally they should be used in conjunction with a visible fence that the cat can use as a visual reminder of its constraints. This seems to work well with some cats and not at all with others.

Our E-mail address: calvencadecats@chello.nl

Created by Klaas van der Heide 1999

Last update: 22 mei 2000
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