It's easy to understand why some people have a love/hate relationship with outside cats. After all, cats don't see property lines and personal belongings the way humans do. While lounging on a neighbour's patio chair or using a flowerbed as a litter box makes perfect sense to a cat, such arrogance can infuriate humans. Although you can't teach cats good manners, there are home remedies that will keep them away from places where they aren't welcome.
The Scaredy Cat Plant
Coleus Canina, also known as the Scaredy Cat plant, has a strong smell that repels cats and other animals. The National Gardening Association suggests creating a hedge with Coleus Canina plants spaced about 3 feet apart around flowerbeds, sandboxes and other areas where cats are unwelcome.
Among the herbs that repel cats are citronella, lavender, rosemary and garlic chives. Plant them as a border around your flowerbeds or intersperse them among the other plants in your garden. Be prepared to experiment though. Herbs that offend some cats won't bother others at all.
Rue, too, has a pungent odour that can repel cats. But it's toxic to people if ingested and can cause skin irritation if touched. Use it with caution and don't plant it in areas where children play.
Prickly Plants and Thorny Branches
Cats won't like rubbing against prickly plants like cactus if they're interspersed among the other plants in your garden. Putting rosebush cuttings and other thorny branches on top of the soil will keep cats out, too.
Put chicken wire under a thin layer of soil to discourage cats from digging in your garden and using it as a litter box.
Electronic deterrents that emit a high-pitched sound or stream of water are an effective way of keeping cats off lawn furniture and cars. Most pet supply stores sell the Scarecrow, CatStop (see Resources) and other electronic devices.
A separate bed of catnip and catmint will give cats a happy alternative to your vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Plant your cat garden in a sunny spot, and leave a bare area where the cats can roll around in the soil. Add a garden bench or patio chair, so the cats can nap on their furniture instead of yours.
Toxic to Cats
While mothballs and mothball flakes will keep cats away from your garden and bird feeders, they're toxic to both animals and humans and can contaminate the soil. Even mothballs in a coffee can with holes cut in the lid are extremely dangerous.