19 answers

What to Do About the Neighborhood Cats?

This group of moms always has really good advice and I have an odd question...

The cats in our neighborhood have taken to hanging out on our patio furniture. We have the comfy chairs and a couch on our porch. The porch is covered, so we don't have to worry about removing the cushions in case of rain, but the sides are open, so its not a screen porch. I had friends over and when they got up from the furniture they were covered in cat hair ICK! I looked and the cushions were all covered in cat hair!! We've tried putting the cushions on end when we are no longer sitting on the furniture but then cats sit on the top edge of the cushions. Because they are big cushions, I don't want to have to take the cushions in and out every time we want to use them. The cats also pooing in our flower beds. Any thoughts on what to do? 3 families on our street have cats so I am not sure which cats are using our furniture. We are a pet free home, b/c I don't want to deal with the hair and the mess!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, thanks so much for all of the ideas. We ended up putting large trash bags over the cushions and that seems to have done the trick keeping the little bugger off the cushions. I just tuck the trash bags under the cushions when we want to enjoy our patio furniture. We also threw out the kids sandbox that the cat had apparently thought was there for him even though it had a cover on it (unfortunately the kids weren't so good at keeping it closed)- ICK

Featured Answers

I always heard to lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on the area where you want cats to avoid. They don't like the way it feels on their feet. We used this to train the cat to stay out of the crib before out little ones slept in it.

You've been given some good suggestions already, but I'll add that cats don't like the smell of citrus. It would be worthwhile to get some lemon or orange essential oils to spray around the areas where they tend to hang around. They aren't terribly expensive, and a little goes a long way.

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The easiest solution might be to throw a blanket over the furniture and take the blanket off when you want to use the furniture.

Some people believe that cats should live only indoors, and some don't. Some people believe couches can be on porches, and some don't. (See recent attempt by city of Minneapolis to ban couches with cushions from all porches.) I personally wouldn't start a neighborhood battle over this. As for cat poop in flower gardens - there is probably squirrel and bunny poop in there too.

I see you got alot of advice on how to deter the cats from your space. Frankly- I go with the advice of the owner is the problem deal with them.

Animals belong only on the property of the owner. They are in violation if they are anywhere else without being leashed and attended to.

We had cat problems when my kids were little. It is unsanitary to have cats using your flowerbeds etc. as their litter box. If they were to do this in a pregnant ladies yard and she was exposed to the amonia,the neighbors could be held liable for any complications to that child.

You will need to address the neighbors that have cats. If you don't know the people you could just mail letters to the whole street. You have the right to trap any animal and turn it over to animal control. State that in the letter.

If it were racoons no one would hesitate to tell you to do this. If it were dogs there would be no contraversey over trying nicely to keep them out. It would be looked at as a safetly issue. Same with cats, they scratch and bite too. No one would think to let their children roam the neighborhood and utilize other's yards without permission. Why do they presume to let their animals do it?

With all that said... yes I own cats. Are you shocked?! I have two. One loooooves to be outside. She is ALWAYS in a harness and leashed to a run from the house to a tree on far side of yard. The leash is measured to keep her far enough away that she cannot jump any fence but she can climb the tree.

There are ways to approach without being nasty or aggressive. Just be informative of the problems, the laws, and the options you see that you have. Tell them you really dont want to go to extremes but you cannot, will not live with unwanted animals in your yard.

good luck and be strong.

Can you put a couple of objects on them like bricks or something? I think that might help!

Normally, I don't mind cats around my house. If you know who the cat belongs to, tell the neighbor to keep the cat indoors. If you don't know who it belongs to, hang signs in the neighborhood. However, you may need to do what I did when a cat decided to spray on my deck (YUCK!). So I borrowed a large live animal trap from a neighbor (used to catch raccoons). I caught the cat, took it to the pound, and never saw it again. FYI (not neccesarily for S. N :) Owners need to KEEP CATS INDOORS IN SPRING BECAUSE CATS EAT BABY BIRDS!

I always heard to lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on the area where you want cats to avoid. They don't like the way it feels on their feet. We used this to train the cat to stay out of the crib before out little ones slept in it.

I had a similiarly annoying problem with my neighbors' cats. There are about 5 that roam around, along with 2 large dogs. My issue was they come and terrorize my small puppy on a leash, and worse yet...make a bed in my basement window and spray it with their potent scent! My laundry room is in my basement and just opening the door to the basement, you could smell it! I was irritated to say the least. Found some helpful info online. I walked the perimeter of my home with an Irish Spring bar of soap and potato peeler to keep them from coming close to the home and spraying or pooing, or teasing my puppy. It worked for about 2 months. I need to do it again. I try to scare them away everytime I see them in the yard but end up just looking like a good ball. They could care less. If I knew whose they were, I would definitly say something. They are on my property affecting my home & kids. I put my dog on a leash so my neighbors aren't burdoned by him, I even bring him inside if he yelps or barks at a neighbor when they go outside in their yard!! I wish my neighbors were as considerate. I've also heard coffee grounds deter them. And I did use that too, it was less noticeable to the naked eye than the soap. GOOD LUCK!!

Hi S. -- I feel your pain! My own cats use my porch much more than I do, and I have just designated one side of the cushions for them and one for us. There are spray products available in pet stores that repel cats, but they have to be applied every day or two. When i do de-hair the cushions I use those lint rollers that you tear the sheets off. They work best for me.

Good luck! L.

I sympathize for you - cats are very hard to keep away from an area they don't belong.

You got a lot of great advice, but the one other thing I can suggest is that you may want to try a cat repellant spray. you can buy it at some of the large chain pet stores, and I have gotten it from my vet's office to keep our cats away from my live plants.

The bad thing about the spray is that it smells so bad that humans are disgusted by it too, so DON'T spray it directly on your cushions! I would spray the perimeter of your porch. Good luck!

lol,lol....sorry...but ive got 2 cats...pretty darn hard headed...once they find a spot..its theirs...however-couple tricks you can do to deter them....get a bag of catnip-and a box of moth balls....put the moth balls around your patio and on your furniture..in open baggies...they hate the smell-then take the catnip-get an old bowl-container-put some in it,,place over by your neighbors...where they live-thatll keep them close to home....also spread moth balls around your flowerbed...thatll keep them out of there-good luck...i would also talk to your neighbors-

You've been given some good suggestions already, but I'll add that cats don't like the smell of citrus. It would be worthwhile to get some lemon or orange essential oils to spray around the areas where they tend to hang around. They aren't terribly expensive, and a little goes a long way.


Since I am a cat owner, I would say, go around and talk to your neighbors. No one's cat should be so comfortable as to make itself so at home in your yard. It is afterall YOUR yard. Our cat had been camping out under our nextdoor neighbors' birdfeeders. They spoke to us, and we keep an eye on him. Ours is an indoor cat which we don't let out too often; however, when we did let him out, he annoyed our neighbors. Your best bet would be to talk to the owners of the cats and ask for some help in this area.


Not sure about the cushions but we bought a plant at home depot that has a smell that deters squirrels, rabbits and cats. You could try that in the flower beds. Not pretty and I don't remember what it's called. Sorry.

We have 3 indoor cats and have to be very regular about vacuuming the furniture so I understand your not wanting to deal with it, especially from neighborhood cats. There's not a lot you can permanently do. Some "temporary" fixes might be putting mousetraps on the seats, double faced sticky tape, etc. There are gadgets that "shoot" water when an animal approaches your yard, etc.. Outdoor cats can be unhealthy to have around flower beds, kids sandboxes and play areas, other animals where they could pick up diseases & rabies (from rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, etc.). If you really want to solve the problem, you should call the Animal Control people in your area when you see a stray cat in the area. Your neighbors won't need to know who placed the call.

St. Paul Animal Control is on your side. Call them ###-###-####) and ask them to mail you 3 copies of their "Be a Good Cat Neighbor" brochure. Give one to each of the houses that have cats, and let them know that their kitties have been shedding all over your outdoor furniture and pooping in your yard. Have them come over to your house so they see the hair and poop for themselves.

Highlights from the brochure:

"Property owners and managers have the right to confine any cat that walks onto their property and turn it over to Animal Control. This must be done without harming the cat."

"You have the right to own a cat. In addition, your neighbor has the right to have a garden or sandbox. You are responsible for keeping your cat away from your neighbor's property."


Encourage them to start walking their cats on a leash & harness, or to purchase enclosed "cat runs". Besides being a royal pain to neighbors, roaming cats can be hit by cars, contract diseases, and lots of other bad scenarios. I have been active in animal welfare for years, and the experts are in agreement that house cats should NOT be allowed to roam freely outside. In fact, the shelter I got my cat from made me sign an agreement stating I would not do so. If they found out I did, they could take her back. Good luck.

The first thing you need to do is talk to the three families that have cats. Let them know that you don't know which cat or cats are the problem but the cushions for your outdoor furniture are continualy covered in cat hair and you've been finding cat poop in your flower beds. They should be willing to help come up with a solution. Of course just because they should doesn't mean they will...

Maybe put a tarp over the cushions or find some sort of material or scent to spray on the furniture that will make them not want to come back.

The cats are on your property so you have the right to trap them (in a live trap, of course!)..and take them to the animal shelter when nobody is looking. This will be expensive for your neighbors because they'll have to pay a fee to get the cats back. Then perhaps they'll keep the cats indoors, where can be kept track of better.

I am answering this question from the point of view of a pet owner (2 dogs, 3 cats):

I had a dog that (like most dogs) liked to bark at stuff. One day the police stopped by to tell us a neighbor had called to complain about the barking. I would have much rather had the person speak to us personally before resorting to calling the cops, as we had no idea he was barking for long stretches while we were at work. No one had mentioned this issue to us previously. We correctly guessed which neighbor had called the police and appologized to her in person (and took several steps to ensure it wouldn't happen again).

It is entirely likely that your neighbors have no idea their cats are causing you distress. Please try to identify the cat owners and speak to them personally before you exercise your right to capture and release to animal control or animal shelters. A number of things may happen if/when you turn a cat over to a shelter. The most likely scenario is that the person will assume their outdoor cat has just taken off on its own and will return on its own. When it doesn't return, they will either 1. assume it is dead (which means another shelter has been burdened with an animal that HAD a "good" home. If it is a "kill" shelter or a pound, either that cat or another will be euthanized sooner than it would have been otherwise.) or 2. they will lunch a "lost pet" poster campaign - particularly if they have young children who miss the "lost" cat. It is amazing how many people never think to contact their local animal shelter when their pet goes missing. Or best case scenario: 3. They will contact the shelter but have to pay a fine to get their animal back. I think the cat owner should have the right to be informed about the damage their cat is doing and the consequences if it happens again, rather than suddenly be faced with a "missing" pet. Yes, you certainly have the right to contact animal control or trap the cat yourself, but be aware of what might happen if you do that. At least give the cat owners a chance to correct their behavior first.

My neighbor hates our cats because they scare off the bunnies. The dogs also scare off the bunnies. We compromise by only putting the dogs out when necessary and letting the cats out less, and never at night (when they are more likely to cause a cat fight with other loose cats who aren't fixed- ours are all fixed). We have a fairly relaxed neighborhood when it comes to outdoor cats, but I would much rather hear from a neighbor directly rather than law enforcement, so long as the neighbor was nice about it.

P,S. Can you flip your cushions over when not in use? That's what we do. If not, a sofa cover or similar when not in use might do.

If you see the cats on there, have a water spray bottle and spray them with it. They will be discouranged from laying on there if they are caught each time. Another thing you can do is set mouse traps upside down on the furniture and around your flower beds. Make sure they are upside down since you don't want to get any paws in it. The snap scares them and they will move on to somewhere they know isn't so scary. We did this on our counters to keep our cat off the counters and it worked like a charm.

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