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How to Keep Stray Cats Away

How to Get Rid of Stray Cats

how to keep stray cats away - look at this mean cat!

When it comes to keeping pests of the feline nature out of your yard, there are two types to consider; you have pet cats, and stray cats. Stray cats (or feral cats) are cats that were born into a life without an owner, or cats that have left to fend by themselves by previous owners who can no longer look after them.

Although they are both ofthe same species and if you put a collar on them both you would be hard pushed to tell the difference. The only visual indicator would be that a stray cat will not be as well fed and may look leaner, even skinny. It may also show scars from territory battles from its roaming adventures around the neighbourhood. A stray cat will also look unkempt compared to a pet cat, with a rough, sometimes matted coat.

According to the video below, there is a difference between feral cats and stray cats, but for our purposes of keeping stray cats out of your yard, there really is no difference.

The main concern with stray cats, and the reason most home owners want to get rid of stray cats from their yard is due to the hygiene risk. Stray cats are at a much higher risk of carrying and spreading infection as they are not subject to the same professional pet care as pet cats. If a stray feral cat is using your property and straying into your yard, you children and pets will be at risk of infectious diseases, parasites and fleas. Please see our page on Toxoplasmosis for the dangers of cat infections. These risks can all be passed on simply by contact with a stray cat, or fecal contamination.

Feral cats are also at a higher risk for infectious diseases, parasites and fleas. Due to a life in the wild with no care, a stray cat will often be covered with parasites – dangerous to humans and other animals, such as your pets.

There is a slight difference in the way you would go about keeping stray cats out of your yard, compared to pet cats that roam your neighbourhood.

How can this be? Surely cat deterrents cannot differentiate between stray and pet cats? Well, no they cannot, but if you are going to solve the puzzle of keeping stray cats away, you will have to consider the differences – and in doing so solve the puzzle of unwanted cats in your yard! Before we get onto this though, a quick summary on exactly why you should want to get rid of stray cats…

  • fecal matter from stray cats can be dangerous to humans and other animals and pets
  • they will steal food laid out for other pets
  • they will urinate on garden furniture and plants, ricking the spread of infection through touch
  • violent behaviour resulting loud and disturbing cat fights
  • the spread of parasites, fleas and ticks


How to Keep Stray Cats Away

So, if we analyze the difference between stray cats and pet cats, we will arrive at an extra layer of protection that will reveal the secret on how to keep stray cats away.

The clue is in the behaviour!

Pet cats will stray into neighbouring gardens for two main reasons. Firstly out of sheer curiosity – we all know how nosey cats are! The second reason is to mark territory. If you have ever seen a cat stray into your yard, you will probably have seen it spray its sent over your plants.

Stray cats on the other hand have a whole different motive for invading your yard – survival. Unlike pet cats stray cats do not have a square meal presented to them every day, and a fresh bowl of milk – they have to scavenge for food to stay alive, and this is the main reason they will enter your yard.

Realising this, you are now prepared to plan that extra layer of protection that was mentioned in the opening paragraph!


How to Keep Stray Cats out of Your Yard

You’ve probably guessed by now, but for those who are just skipping ahead, here’s what you are looking for; in order to keep stray cats out of your yard, you have to remove the attraction, and the attraction for stray cats is food! If a stray cat finds food on your property, in your yard, it will continue to return to look for more – creating a dependence that results in repeat visits to your yard and reducing your chances of keeping stray cats out of your yard.

So how do we do this? You must plan your trash and refuse so that it does not stay outside for long before it is collected, or remove it yourself without any delay to the local refuse point. If you must have household trash and refuse left outside, make sure it is in sealed solid containers, not plastic bags. Stray cats will sniff out bagged food and easily rip through and make a mess as it retrieves its meal. Perhaps you have an outhouse you could use to keep trash in that would keep it safe from cats?


Here’s our Top 4 tips for keeping stray cats out of your yard

1. Remove food sources.

how to keep stray cats away - keep your yard clean!

Do not leave food or water outside. A Scene such as shown above is a huge attraction for nosey and hungry cats. Keep your yard tidy and free of trash, especially food stuffs. This will go a long way to making your yard less appealing to cats and in completing this task alone you will have learned the number 1 method on how to keep stray cats away.

2. Remove Shelter

Stray cats will look for out-houses or shed to take shelter in overnight. Do not give them a reason to come into your property, keep your yard secure.

3. Use a cat repellent device.

ultrasonic cat repellents

Cat repellents such as those shown above are great for keeping cats out of your yard. Proven to work, and easy and inexpensive to install. Please see the final section below for effective tips on this.


4. Call the experts.

how to keep stray cats away - animal control centres

If the problem does not go away, you should consider calling your local animal control centre. This will reduce the risk of the problem getting worse.

Now that we have established the best way to make your garden invisible to stray cats, ie remove attractive smells coming from foodstuffs, you can also deploy the same measures that successfully repel all cats, whether stray or pets….


Stray Cat Repellent

Stray cat repellent options are exactly the same as all cat repellent measures – you can consider powder/granules, ultrasonic cat repellent, and water based cat repellents.  While the water based devices are the most effective, they do require a bit more setting up, a water supply, and are more expensive. For this reason most people rely on ultrasonic cat repellents, however for a good roundup of all the options and price ranges, see our Budget v Premium Cat Deterrents guide.

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas on how to keep stray cats away, and has impressed upon you the importance of taking steps to to keep stray cats out of your yard!