The Q&A Archives: cat and squirrel problem in porch flowers

Question: How do I stop squirrels and cats from digging through my porch flowers? I tried putting stone and rocks in the soil, but that only helps for a short time. Also what can I put on my porch pillows to stop them from sitting on my cushions?


Answer: For areas where cats and squirrels want to dig, small-gauge chicken wire can be buried under a light layer of dirt or mulch. Or, string nylon fishing wire over the beds in a zig-zag fashion, keeping the spaces between the line only 3-4". Cats will be uncomfortable, fearing their legs will be caught.

As far as your pillows go, surprise devices might work. To teach a cat to avoid a specific area, you must make that area unattractive to him. The best method is to surprise the cat "in the act" but without the cat knowing that you are the one administering the surprise. Simple devices can be used to effectively "booby-trap" the area that a cat has found attractive.

Sound and Movement: Scatter dry beans, macaroni, or birdseed on a metal tray; disposable pie pans or cookie sheets work well and are inexpensive. Balance several trays along the fence, porch or deck railing, the windowsill, or around the edge of any vehicle where the cat jumps onto the surface. Birds can still land safely if the trays are balanced properly, but the weight of a cat leaping onto the surface will upset the tray. The cat will be startled by the noise and by the unsteady, collapsing perch. As a variation on this "falling tray" method, set shallow plastic lids filled with water on each end of the tray to add a shower to the noise and movement of the falling tray.

Texture: To keep a cat from jumping onto flat surfaces (railings, vehicles, or decks), criss-cross double-sided tape onto a piece of sturdy plastic?either a heavy, plastic drop cloth or a vinyl tablecloth would work well. Drape the plastic over the surface, and secure it with cord, or at least one weighted object, to keep it in position. The sticky tape is annoying to the cat (without causing pain or panic), and the slick plastic not only rattles but also offers no foothold. An alternative to sticky tape would be to use a plastic carpet protector with the knobby side up.
Water: This method works especially well for those areas where birds feed on the ground or where cats are using a garden area as a litter box. When the temperature permits, turn on a water sprinkler during the usual time of disturbance (which may be dawn or dusk if the cat is on your property to hunt). A timing device for the sprinkler, set to a staggered schedule, will help discourage those intelligent cats who would otherwise simply avoid the area at "regularly wet" times of day.

Hope these suggestions work for you!

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