How to Live with Community Cats

What you should do if…

Cats are getting into your trash.

Reason: Cats are looking for food.

Quick Tips:

  • Secure your trash can with a tight lid or bungee cords. This will protect your trash from wildlife as well.
  • Find out if neighbors are feeding the cats. If they are, make sure they are following best practices. Learn more
  • Consider feeding the cats yourself if you find no regular caregiver. Feeding cats using best practices will help ensure they don’t get hungry enough to get into trash.

Cats are digging in your garden.

Reason: It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig in soft or loose soil, moss, or sand.

Quick Tips:

  • Put out fragrances that keep cats away. Scatter fresh orange or lemon peels. Wet coffee grounds – which you may be able to get free from coffee houses and fast food chains – and metal pans filled with vinegar also deter cats. There are commercial deterrents available to spray in your garden and around your home.
  • Make an outdoor litter box away from your garden by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Clean the area frequently.
  • Use plastic carpet runners, spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at hardware or office supply stores. You can also set chicken wire firmly into the dirt (roll sharp edges under), arrange branches or sticks in a lattice pattern, or put wooden or plastic fencing over soil.
  • Get the Cat Scat Mat, a nonchemical cat deterrent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals but discourage digging.
  • Get motion-activated sprinklers.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large river rocks to prevent cats from digging. Rocks have the added benefit of deterring weeds.

Cats are lounging in your yard or porch, or on your car.

Reason: Cats tend to remain close to their food source.

Quick Tips:

  • Shift the cat’s food source to a less central location, where you won’t mind if they hang out.
  • Apply fragrances that deter cats around the edges of your yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants.
  • Install an ultrasonic deterrent or a motion-activated sprinkler. You can find humane deterrent products at garden supply stores.
  • Use a car cover or place carpet runners on top of your car to avoid paw prints.

Cats are sleeping under your porch or in your shed.

Reason: The cats are looking for a dry, warm shelter away from the elements.

Quick Tips:

  • Provide covered shelter. Or, if the cats have a caregiver, ask the caregiver to provide covered shelter. Shelters should be placed in quiet areas away from traffic. Find tips to build shelters.
  • Block or seal the area where the cats enter with chicken wire or lattice, but only once you are absolutely certain no cats or kittens are inside.

Feeding cats attracts insects and wildlife.

Reason: Leaving food out for too long can attract other animals.

Quick Tips:

  • Feed the cats at the same time and location each day. They should be given only enough food to finish in one sitting. If another person is caring for the cats, ask them to follow these guidelines.
  • Keep the feeding area neat and free of food and trash.

Cats are yowling, fighting, roaming, and having kittens.

Reason: These are mating behaviors. Once the cats are spayed or neutered, these behaviors will stop.

Quick Tips:

  • Conduct TNR for the cats. TNR stops mating behaviors and ensures no new kittens are born.
  • Contact your local TNR organization for assistance.

Thank you to our friends at Alley Cat Allies for these great tips on humanely deterring cats from your neighborhood!