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Let me preface this post by acknowledging that the issue of whether cats should be kept indoors or allowed to go outside is a hotly debated one, with most people coming down firmly on one side or the other of the debate. I’m a firm believer that all cats should be kept indoors, but I respect the fact that there are not only different points of view, but also cultural differences. In the United States, most cats tend to be kept indoors, whereas cats are allowed outside in most European countries.
No matter where you come down on the indoor vs. outdoor debate, and no matter how much you love cats, you may not want your yard used as the giant neighborhood litter box, especially if you enjoy gardening.
Roaming cats can cause problems for your indoor cats
And there’s another, perhaps far more important reason why you may want to keep free roaming cats out of your yard: Cats are territorial animals, and even if your cats never go outside, they consider what they can see through the window part of their territory. The sight of a strange cat in that territory can cause all sorts of stress-induced behavior, including inappropriate urination inside your home and redirected aggression.
Fortunately, there are a number of humane ways you can deter roaming cats from your yard. No cat lover wants to be cruel to another cat, but in these situations, the well being of your own cats should take precedence. The following ways allow you to humanely deter trespassing cats from your property.
1. Try to find the cat’s owner
If you know the cat belongs to someone, try to talk to the cat’s guardian. Educate them about the dangers outdoor cats face, and ask them to either keep their cat indoors, or confine them to a safe outdoor enclosure.
2. Help feral cats
If the cat is a feral cat as opposed to a stray (feral cats are descendants of a domesticated cat that have returned to the wild. Feral cats are born in the wild, as opposed to stray cats, who are usually cats who have been lost or abandoned,) Alley Cat Allies, a national organization dedicated to the well being of community cats, has wonderful resources on how to help feral cats, including Trap Neuter Return.
3. Help stray cats find a home
If the cat is a stray, and if you’re unable or unwilling to take him in, contact a local no-kill shelter or rescue group to help you. These groups can help you capture the cat, and ultimately find a new home.
4. Use natural cat deterrents
Consider landscaping with cats in mind. Avoid plants that attract cats, such as mint or catnip. Create surfaces that deter digging by covering exposed soil in flower beds with rocks. Scatter fresh orange or lemon peel, or spray lemon fragrance.
5. Use commercial humane cat deterrents
Install ultrasonic deterrents such as the Scarecrow, or a motion activated sprinkler system.
You may never be able to completely banish strange cats from trespassing on your property, but these tips will help safely and humanely deter intruders and keep your cats happy.
This article was previously published on Answers.com, and is republished with permission.
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