What permacultural experience or advice do people have for deterring wandering domestic cats from coming into the garden?
I'd like to learn about non-harming ways to discourage cats from coming into our garden area and catching birds, snakes, skinks, etc. Those little predators help keep the pests down and the more, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. "More snakes, more birds, more skinks" is my motto. "A skink on every rock" would be a political platform I'd vote for, simply because slugs annoy me, as do many beetles, some moths, and most caterpillars.
I'm not anti-cat. I am not interested in any way harming cats. Educating the humans involved is not practicable in all cases -- it's not in this one (except for educating myself). And getting the relevant authorities involved would mean live-trapping the cats and sending them to the pound. I don't want to do that either (see "not interested in any way harming cats" above). Our little dog is noisy enough for three. Cats dislike her. But she's not outside all the time.
Permaculture methods must offer some things that will deter cats. Anti-catnip? Counter-felid fengshui? Is this yet another problem that the right kind of compost can make go away???
I would prefer this not become a thread about the question of whether cats are harmful etc. Everyone knows some cats kill things when they're out and about. Not all cats kill and not all the time, but still. Some people don't mind that killing, some do. Fair enough. It's a big internet and there's space for many viewpoints. I'm interested in practical, practicable, non-harmful things I can do.
Cats who have a bell on their collar, quickly learn to tread softly until the rush of an ambush. A small radio that can't be easily disabled, would warn everyone with ears. Lizards, snakes and birds could flee, gardeners could fling a clay ball and granny could set out some cream for the visitor.
Everybody wins. The occasional daft animal may still fall victim, but many more will learn that the music means that a cat is approaching. It doesn't have to be music. Stalin's speaches or Gilbert Godfrey's melodic voice could play in a continuous loop. A whole new field of psychiatry for cats, may flourish as a result.
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 3 years ago
Are these cats domestic, or feral?
If they are feral cats, Trap-Neuter-Release programs can help keep their numbers from getting out of hand. Existing cats can continue to live locally, but they will not produce a gazillion new kittens each spring.
I think you've already got the ideal solution; a dog. You just don't have *enough* of the solution! I would suggest you apply further solution until the problem is reduced to an acceptable level, or the solution becomes more of a problem than the problem.
(That's a permaculture thing, right? 'Sometimes the solution is the problem'?)
I keep my cat in a fenced yard for his own safety; he was previously an indoor cat and I'm afraid of him getting hit by a car, as he's absolutely fearless well past the bounds of common sense. To prevent him getting past the fence, I put the posts in at an angle, and used heavy duty black plastic deer fencing, loosely attached with an inward bent lower curtain laid on the ground and weighted down. It's too tall to jump, and while I'm sure he could climb a taut vertical fence, going up a sagging overhang is beyond him...
It doesn't make for a pretty fence, but it's worked for several months so far.
we use motion sensor activated lights, so far (two years) it has worked pretty well for us. A loud noise maker can be wired into the circuit for even more determent of felines (works for raccoons too).
We love visitors, that's why we live in a secluded cabin deep in the woods. "Buzzard's Roost (Asnikiye Heca) Farm." Promoting permaculture to save our planet. https://permies.com/wiki/redhawk-soil
If having cats poo in your garden is the main problem, you can try applying a pepper spray to everything. You can find some recipes for it in this thread (http://permies.com/t/35612/dogs-cats/critters/Cats-Hugel-Litter-Box) as well as some other deterrents. I tried it, but it didn't work for my cat...but that was also a cat who knew my house was it's territory.
What ended up working best for me was just sticking a bunch of sticks every 4-5 inches in my garden beds, with the sticks sticking up about 4-5 inches. This made digging a lot less desirable for my cat, and it chose to poo elsewhere. (I also tried laying bramble across my beds. This kept the cat away, but made it really painful to garden! The sticks were a lot easier--and less painful--to manage.)
I'm probably going to make myself unpopular here, but the domestic cat is among my least favourite animals, mainly because of their habit of wiping out the wildlife for fun.
I mean, down there with mosquitoes, filaria parasites and humans.
I agree that teaching the humans is impractical. Apparently it's "natural" for an overbred, untrainable killing machine to be let loose in large numbers to wipe out the local rodentia and avifauna.
Things that smell like big predators are well known: I've never tried it but I'm told that, if you have a local zoo, the dung produced by large predators, especially big cats, will keep the smaller ones away.
A thought: would this also work to discourage large herbivores such as deer and boar? There was a discussion a while ago about how fear changes the behaviour of herbivores and small predators. I'm not enthusiastic because putting the fear of death into the local wildlife doesn't really appeal to me: I don't like making anyone's life worse.
Something I've also never tried, and it's very artificial, but this did occur to me when my neighbour's ****ing moggie (named as a fan of the local football team, just to add insult to injury!) was treating my garden as his toilet because my neighbours had covered theirs in paving slabs, involved a large water pistol and some soluble cat repellent. I suspect you'd only need one "treatment". The fact I even considered this shows just how pissed off I was.
Water and an old bike pump will have a similar effect, but this requires more conditioned response on the part of the cat.
Other things some people have found that work include prunings from spiny plants such as hawthorn and berberis (which is what I went for, and seems to work: same principle as Nicole's brambles) citrus peel, coffee grounds (I'd rather use that for growing mushrooms), and at least some strong-smelling herbs (not catnip, obviously): http://thescaredycat.com/cat-repellent-plants-actually-work/.
The evil little monsters like freshly dug earth, so a no-till regime might help, and this is obviously beneficial for other reasons.
Here's another cat-repellent plant. I've never used it, but ran across its name in a plant nursery listing, and had to find out more.
Anyway, supposedly if planted three feet apart, it will protect a whole garden from cats and dogs, and isn't particularily offensive smelling to people.
Here's the link...to the Piss-Off Plant! (And, yes, that's it's name. It also seems like a great present to give to those you don't particularity like. Tell someone you hate them, with flowers: "Here you go, Piss-Off!")
So please don't blow me up over this.
When I was a kid, my folks got a BB gun at an auction, iron sights, 25 years old, pump action. It was for me to shoot targets with, and cats were one of two live targets I was allowed to engage. With a low velocity, the BB didn't penetrate, it just left a welt, much like getting smacked on bare skin from a paintball. My marksmanship was immaterial, because a near miss would throw up enough debris to spook the cats, and they would avoid our house like the plague for several days. If I hit one, it would bolt out of the yard like someone lit its tail on fire (euphamism, not comparison) and after that it would high tail it from 100 yards away at the sound of the screen door opening.
Think of it as behavior modification. By the same token, our Heeler/Catahoula mix doesn't like cats, and they will cross the road to avoid walking on his turf on the outside chance he's outdoors. He hasn't gotten one yet, but heavy breathing on your tail as you are running at full sprint tends to cause some serious anxiety on their part.
When I started losing pullets to unknown predators 3 years ago, one of the defensive steps was live traps. If I caught a cat that was collared/tagged, I'd spray it with water, take it home and cut it loose. If it was a stray/unidentified, I'd throw the trap in the back of the truck and drive to the nearest grain handling facility, as they always have mice/rat problems. Of course, now, because we live in town, the closest elevator is about a half mile away, so I'd probably take it to the 2nd closest one.
Think of it as a public service... yeah, that's it... Public Service.
Ask me about my grandchickens!!!
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