How To Keep Stray Cats From Spraying a Yard

Don't let stray cats feel too at home in your yard.

Don't let stray cats feel too at home in your yard.

If feral cats include your yard in their territories, you might be less than appreciative of their urine-based social updates. Cats spray for several reasons but mainly to pass information onto other cats. Usually, that the place belongs to the sprayer.

Fill up buckets with tap or rain water -- grey water is fine for this -- and rinse the spots where the cats have urinated. This dilutes the urine, so it won’t burn vegetation and the smell will be less intense. It may also discourage cats from spraying the spot again, though it probably won’t.

Sit on guard in your yard if you have a lot of time of your hands. When a cat enters, spray him with water, or just chase him off. If you continue for long enough, the cats will learn that your yard is not a good place to visit.

Spray or position cat repellents around the edges of your yard and where the cats are urinating. A variety of commercial ones exist and some people recommend orange peels, coffee grounds or various concoctions made from garlic, onions and essential oils. Reports on their effectiveness vary; cat repellents probably won’t keep away a determined tomcat but might be enough to discourage a cat that wasn’t that interested in your yard in the first place.

Offer to dog sit for a few days if you have a friend, neighbor or relative with a big pooch. Let the dog have free access to your yard if you have a dog-proof fence, otherwise take him out there a few times a day. A large predator scares smaller ones. For this to remain effective, you probably will need to bring the dog back for a visit once or twice a week.

Position a motion sensitive sprinkler in the middle of your yard. When a cat crosses in front of the sensors, he’ll get sprayed, a sensation that almost no cat enjoys.

Items you will need

  • Buckets
  • Water pistol
  • Commercial cat repellents
  • Motion sensitive sprinkler


  • The cats might not be truly strays. Outdoor cats roam everywhere and unfixed individuals might thoroughly scent-mark your yard. Talk to your neighbors to find out who the cats belong to. Ask that the cats’ owners get their animals fixed, which is important for the cats’ own health -- and to prevent unwanted kittens -- as well as reducing problem behavior.
  • Contact local animal charities, especially those specializing in cats, for advice on and perhaps assistance with capturing the stray cats, neutering or spaying them and returning them to the area, if they are obviously feral. This is the only effective and humane long-term solution to a feral cat problem. These are almost wild animals and rehoming, except in the case of small kittens, is extremely difficult if not impossible.

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About the Author

Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Photo Credits

  • Stray cat lazing about on a garden clock dial image by FotoWorx from