British news media obsessed with keeping cats out of people's gardens.

Almost every day that I do research on writing an article for this and other websites I bump into British news media discussing how to keep domestic cats out of gardens. They consistently recite the same old mantra about using smells and tea leaves and any other old wives tales to keep those pesky domestic cats from ruining your carefully-tended garden. How many backyards are beautifully created and maintained!?

And frankly it's all baloney. If a neighbour's domestic cat comes into your garden, they don't always pee defecate in the flower bed. They might sometimes but I would not say that it is commonplace. And how many neighbours' cats come into your garden in the first place?

Wandering neighbourhood cat
Wandering neighbourhood cat. Image: Battersea.

Secondly, probably the best and simplest way to deter a cat from coming into your garden - if it really does bother - you is to wave your arms around and make a noise. A domestic cat exploring your garden will be a little bit nervous in the first place because normally they will be exploring new territories. They will be alert to hostility and dangers.

If you create a noise in any way you want to and become a hostile presence without in any way harming the cat they normally scram and disappear. And they will then associate your back garden with a hostile presence and in general they will avoid it. They may return in due course.

But then again you can do the same thing and they will learn that it's no fun being in your garden and stay away.

If you want a more sophisticated method, you can use an ultrasonic deterrent which has about a 50% chance of success which I think is quite a good success rate. The only potential downside with ultrasonic deterrents is that some people, perhaps exceptionally, can hear the sound but I wouldn't let that deter you!

The point is this: the news media runs out of stories and they trawl through the Internet looking for cheap topics to write about. The domestic cat is always a nice 'victim' under the circumstances. They paint a picture that domestic cats are a nuisance to neighbours.

They give the impression that every household in Britain is infested with domestic cats wandering into their backyard when it simply is not the case.

Two houses down my neighbour has two cats. One of them used to come into my back garden. I even allowed her to come into my kitchen. But then I decided against it because she peed on my kitchen counter to mark territory. I made it known to her that I didn't want her here. I was hostile towards her but not in a really frightening way. Just by my presence and speaking loudly.

Domestic cats are very good at picking up body language signals combined with the sounds humans make to decide whether they are hostile or friendly. I did this about five times until she learned to stay away.

That was about 12 months ago or more and she has not come back. It works. I can tell you through first-hand experience that it works. And I have researched ultrasonic deterrents. They are pretty good.

Don't dive into what news media tells you on this topic. They don't know what they are talking about really although they often get some sort of expert to discuss it. There are probably about 20 different domestic cat deterrents available all of which don't work except ultrasonic devices and if you want to be a little bit more hostile you can use a motion sensor water spraying device which will be hostile to a cat but it'll be less effective, quite substantially less effective, then the ultrasonics I've mentioned.


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