Rid your garden of roaming cats
Getting strays or pets to leave your premises can be tricky, writes
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.
Cat-proofing your property is likely to be a tall order.