Rid your gar­den of roam­ing cats

Get­ting strays or pets to leave your premises can be tricky, writes

Central Otago Mirror - - BUILDING AND HOME IMPROVEMENT -

Afew months back, our gar­den was in­un­dated with cats. The ex­pe­ri­ence was straight out of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s movie Birds.

I’d look out the win­dow and see two cats just sit­ting on the lawn, look­ing at me. I’d turn away, look back a few sec­onds later and there’d be four cats just sit­ting on the lawn, look­ing at me. I’d think, ‘‘Huh, that’s weird,’’ then turn away, look back a few sec­onds later, and there’d be eight cats just sit­ting on the lawn, look­ing at me. It sounds ridicu­lous, but I was bor­der­line afraid.

The day I in­ter­rupted a col­lec­tion of cats en­gag­ing in coitus on my drive­way was the day I put my foot down. The cats had to go. I’d al­ready found three dead birds.

There was poop all over the place. My 18-month-old had eaten a piece. ‘‘Have the cats been wormed?’’ asked the kindly Health­line rep­re­sen­ta­tive. ‘‘I don’t know,’’ I replied. ‘‘I don’t have a cat.’’

En­cour­ag­ing cats that don’t live at your house to stay on the other side of the fence is tricky. I mean, they’re cats. They go wher­ever they want, do­ing what­ever they want.

So how do you dis­cour­age strange cats from roam­ing your gar­den? A quick on­line search comes up with myr­iad cre­ative sug­ges­tions.

Hang CDs in trees and po­si­tion half-full bot­tles of wa­ter around your bound­ary line, be­cause cats don’t like re­flec­tions. Cover your flower beds with stones, egg shells and shred­ded pine cones, be­cause cats don’t like sharp things. Empty your hair­brush out in the gar­den, be­cause cats don’t like hu­man hair …

Not only are some of th­ese sug­ges­tions un­proven, your gar­den won’t look very pretty us­ing them ei­ther.

What we do know is that cats don’t gen­er­ally like wa­ter, so the use of wa­ter pis­tols and spritzers isn’t such a far-fetched idea. What we also know is that cats that cross bound­aries ei­ther be­long to some­one else, or don’t be­long to any­one at all, and we’ve got some so­lu­tions for ei­ther sce­nario.

Have a friendly chat to your neigh­bours to find out if any of the cul­prits be­long to them, then come up with a way to keep them off your lawn to­gether.

Bells and bright col­lars might re­duce the like­li­hood of cats catch­ing birds, while train­ing cats to use lit­ter boxes may re­duce foul­ing on your drive­way.

If you can’t find the owner, ask on Neigh­bourly. You never know; per­haps this cat is gen­uinely lost and thinks your home is a haven.

A friendly soul may also live nearby who takes in un­wanted strays and keeps them fed and wa­tered; un­til a few years ago, a man who did just this lived down the street from us. An­i­mal res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions like the SPCA will also take strays in and try to re­house them.

And you never know; per­haps you’ll warm to one of them your­self and in­vite them to join your fam­ily. They prac­ti­cally live there al­ready, af­ter all.

123RF

Cat-proof­ing your prop­erty is likely to be a tall or­der.

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