How can I keep stray cats away?
July 2, 2008 12:52 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep stray cats away? I've seen a few stray cats (5 at the most) using my front porch as a nightly hang out...

If I plan to leave my house at night I'll open the front door and turn on the porch light and I'll see cats running away. When I come home in the evenings I'll see cats on the porch and they'll scatter once I pull into my drive way.
This wouldn't be a huge problem if I wasn't allergic and terrified of stealthy four legged animals (I've never owned a mammal larger than a hamster as a pet).

I've read the other keep-stray-cats-away-thread that suggested orange zest, a spray bottle, or trappings.
I have a few questions regarding these as well:
-I've read some information that said orange zest doesn't necessarily work for all cats and there are cats who actually enjoy it. True?
-Also--will orange zest attract other animals (we regularly see deer, raccoon, and coyote in our area) or bees or ants?
For the most part the cats jet at the first sign of me so a spray bottle doesn't seem like a useful solution. I've considered sneaking open my front door to spray them but I'm afraid they'll run into the house... or attack me.
I'm too afraid of the cats (and other wild animals) to do any trapping.
I've considered calling animal control or something equivalent but the cats aren't always in front of my house.

Other possibly useful notes: There used to be a family of frogs living in a hole beneath the porch and I think that might have been what originally brought the cats to us... but the frogs have been long gone and the cats still come.
Last summer I had a very active bee colony living underneath the bushes near the patio--I thought this would be a cat deterrent but often when the cats are fleeing they'll take a romp through those very bushes. Is this hive actually attracting cats?
The cats disappeared over winter but once the weather was warmer I started seeing them more often.
I live in a once rural, now quickly developing suburb very outside of Chicago.

Please help.
posted by simplethings to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can get a citrus-based animal repellent at pet shops which should do the job for most mammals (and ants) I'm not sure about bees but as it's not sweet, it's probably fine - the packet info should confirm this. It's been a while since I had to buy it but hopefully another commenter can give you the lowdown on the best brands etc. It has the added bonus of smelling nice to humans.
posted by different at 1:02 PM on July 2, 2008

Some humane shelters will loan out their live traps then come get the cats once they are trapped. I would make sure its a no kill shelter who will take care of the trapped cats.
posted by stormygrey at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2008

I would try sprinkling some ammonia around the perimeter of the porch. It's cheap and you probably have some already.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2008

maybe a motion-detector light would work. there are also motion detectors that make barking noises. it might scare them.

alternatively, cayenne pepper is a good animal repellent. sprinkle it on your deck for a few nights in a row, and i think they will not return.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2008

Thank you for the quick responses and ideas!
posted by simplethings at 1:29 PM on July 2, 2008

Thank you for posting this - I have the same problem (only I have an indoor cat who gets riled up when the feral cats howl).
You may also want to see if you or neighbors have a food source for them - a garbage can that is easily burgled, for instance.
I have heard that cayenne and other hot things can be harmful as cats bathe themsleves and can injure themselves severly by trying to get the burny stuff of their fur and faces (eek!)
posted by pointystick at 1:41 PM on July 2, 2008

2nding cayenne pepper

Also, you can make loops of duct tape (sticky side out) and stick them to your deck. Most cats HATE sticky stuff on their feet, and they'll stop hanging out quickly. Of course, you should be careful not to damage paint with the duct tape.
posted by terpia at 1:44 PM on July 2, 2008

I have discouraged animals by sprinkling a mix of ground mustard and cayenne pepper where they sit. Burns their asses (literally). (Animal lovers please tell me if I am doing something awful and I'll stop).
posted by nax at 2:00 PM on July 2, 2008

I use a water gun to convince the neighborhood cats to leave my garden alone.
posted by foodgeek at 2:15 PM on July 2, 2008

Just to make you feel better - those cats probably don't want to come near you, let alone attack you.
posted by at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2008

Leave your sprinkler on your patio one day. When you see them out there, sneak out the back door and go turn it on. Once or twice should be more than enough to convince them it's an unfriendly spot.
posted by comiddle at 2:43 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Feral cats won't come up to humans. I had a friend who actively tried to befriend one and it took months and months before he'd come up to her, and she was bribing him heavily with food. Rattle a can with some coins in it every time you see them on the steps and they will get the hint.
posted by desjardins at 3:47 PM on July 2, 2008

Those cats may be controlling a porch-based rat population, too. To/of which are you more allergic and/or terrified?
posted by Aquaman at 5:24 PM on July 2, 2008

An easy solution would be to set up one of these motion-triggered sprinkler systems. They are designed for deer, but will work for most any pest. Set it up to aim at your porch... it'll be like an automatic spray bottle that's always on duty! It would do a much better job of permanently training "your" cats to stay away than you and an intermittent spray bottle possibly could.

Of course you'd need to get one with a remote, or set it up so that the path to the back door doesn't get wet, because I'm sure you don't want to get doused yourself!
posted by GardenGal at 6:05 PM on July 2, 2008

Place open boxes near but not on your porch. Boxes are kitteh crack!
posted by grippycat at 1:28 PM on July 3, 2008

You can buy fox and coyote urine at good plant and feed stores. That should work.

Putting out mouse traps might help. Don't bait them, just put them out. They will snap in the air without catching any cat parts.

How far from Chicago are you? Perhaps there's some Chicago area cat-rescue group who will come and trap them for you.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:19 PM on July 3, 2008

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