Cat Repellents - October 1, 2003
Jeff Schalau, County Director, Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources
Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County
Cats and gardeners have probably been competing for soil resources since before either species were highly domesticated. Cats are very territorial. They define their territory by depositing pheromones from scent glands on different parts of their bodies. Their cheeks contain scent glands which deposit pheromones when they rub against objects. They also have scent glands on their feet and when they sharpen their claws, it leaves a scent. These are usually friendly marking habits.
When cats mark territory by spraying urine, this sends a more serious message proclaiming dominance/ownership. Non-neutered male cats are most notorious for this behavior. Cat feces also have a scent and can designate territorial boundaries. If an area of your yard has a history of being cat territory, then the first thing you must do is remove the feces and some of the soil. If a wall or other structure was sprayed, then it will need to be scrubbed down and cleaned well before taking further action.
There are many product formulations on the market and home remedies that claim to repel cats. Before looking at these repellents, letís remember that the best pest control strategies for any pest are integrated approaches. Integrated pest management relies on multiple control methods. In addition to repellents, you should consider using exclusion through the use of fencing, caging, or other barriers. Barriers need not be permanent. They should remain in place long enough for the offending cats to change their behavior.
Several repellents are listed below. Each of them had some information available on the Internet. Naming of companies or products is neither meant to imply endorsement by the author nor criticism of similar companies or products not mentioned.
Shake Away Domestic Cat Deterrent uses coyote and fox urine to repel cats. This product is in powder form and claims to be safe for children, plants, pets, and the environment. It is applied in a band around an area and claims to be effective for five feet on either side of the band.
Repel II Dog & Cat Repellent contains the active ingredients d-limonene, dihydro-5-pentyl-2(3h) furanone, and dihydro-5-heptyl-2(3h)-furanone. d-limonene is extracted from citrus.
Concern Dog and Cat Repellent is made by Havahart (the live trap manufacturers) and has the active ingredients allyl isothiocyanate (essential oil of mustard) and capsaicin (the compound that makes chiles hot). It also contains extract of lemon and is suspended in vegetable oil.
Bonide Shot-Gun Dog and Cat Repellent is a granular product that contains the active ingredient methyl nonyl ketone. It is recommended for use around ornamental plants only.
De-Fence Dog and Cat Repellent come in either granules or pellets and contains the active ingredients oil of lemon grass, oil of citronella, oil of orange, allyl isothiocyanate, geraniol, and oil of bergamot.
Liquid Fence Dog and Cat Repellent uses natural plant oils (no specific ingredients are named). It is a liquid product sold in a spray bottle.
Home remedies that Iím aware of include citrus peels, cayenne chile powder, rubbing raw onions on an area, and vinegar. All of these rely on the catís keen sense of smell and an aversion to these particular odors.
Remember to use exclusion and/or barriers in conjunction with repellents. There are also devices that will deliver a spray of water remotely when activated. At my house, I use lots of ponderosa pine cones between bedding plants and sticks poking up out of the ground. This approach seems to work for me.
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has publications and information on gardening and pest control. If you have other gardening questions, call the Master Gardener line in the Cottonwood office at 646-9113 ext. 14 or E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your address and phone number. Find past Backyard Gardener columns or submit column ideas at the Backyard Gardener web site: http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/.
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Last Updated: September 24, 2003
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