Friday, November 18, 2011

Killer cat!

Since I lost my lovely Pushkin, other neighbourhood cats have decided to encroach upon our garden. Our two Abyssinians, Mario and Luigi, don't go out in the garden yet - I want to make sure that they are 100 per cent certain to come when they're called before they do. (They're pretty good, so it won't be long.)
But in the meantime, the other cats are making themselves at home - and wreaking havoc. Hardly a day goes past when I don't find a pile of feathers on the lawn.
I've always fed the birds in my garden, all year round. When Pushkin was alive, he would catch the occasional fledgling, but not in huge numbers, so it didn't deter me. As far as I could see, the benefits of feeding outweighed the risk of the occasional death.
When I heard people blame cats for the decline in garden birds, I'd think they were exaggerating (or anti-cat).
The RSPB says that cats are thought to catch around 55 million birds per year, but they add there is no evidence to show that predation by cats is having any effect on bird populations UK-wide.
However, the amount of damage these invading cats do is really frightening. One is a big fat tabby, the other a portly black and white cat. There's an occasional ginger chap, too. You wouldn't think they were capable of walking five yards, let alone catching anything.
Has anyone got any bright ideas as to what I can do about this? Apart from protecting the bird life, I'd like to deter these cats from coming into the garden anyway - I don't want my boys to have to fight for a space on the lawn once they start to go outside.

17 comments:

patientgardener said...

When I got Maisie I read somewhere that to deter other cats you should put the contents of the cat litter tray around your boundary to mark the cat's territory. The visits from local cats soon stopped but I dont know who much of that is due to her seeing them off once she was out (only managed to keep her in 2 weeks) and how much through marking the territory for her

wellywoman said...

I caught my neighbours cat stalking the birds that were picking up the seeds that had fallen out of the bird feeder. I feel bad about putting out food that encourages the birds into the garden only for them to be got by the cats. I wish I could suggest something but I've pretty much tried everything. I'm finding it really frustrating coming across dead birds in my garden.

petoskystone said...

I look forward to reading others' suggestions as my cats are strictly indoor kits. The neighborhood kits generally avoid my yard mainly due to the scent of soninlaws' large dog. We had a small problem in the spring as there was a hole in front porch skirting. Once this was fixed, the cats left.

Carey at Gembrook said...

A Jack Russel Terrier should do the trick.

Victoria said...

patientgardener: That sounds very sensible. My two produce quite a lot of soiled litter, so there should be no shortage...
I need something that's there all the time. Someone also suggested orange peel, so I'm going to try that too.
Water pistols are all very well, but I can't sit by the window all day long just on the offchance of spraying a cat.

Elephant's Eye said...

We did the patientgardener thing before we moved our two cats from the rented house to this newly built one. I think we also did it to help the cats feel This is Mine! Helps to keep Them Out and Yours In. If yours aren't in the garden, the neighbouring cats quietly divide your garden amongst themselves.

Johnny said...

As the water pistol suggester, I have to say that you won't have to wait in ambush & do it very often. After a couple of goes, a mere touch of the door handle will have them scurrying for cover.

Victoria said...

wellywoman: I feel like an accessory to the crime! Though of course my two will probably turn out to be murderers too. A spider or a fly doesn't stand a chance in our house.

Carey: There are two Jack Russells next door, unfortunately, because I suspect that's partly why the cats are in my garden. My other neighbour has three Shetland collies, and yet another has a Cairn and a pointer. My garden is obviously the dog-free oasis!

Elephant's Eye: I'm definitely going to give it a go. I'm hoping clementines and satsumas work as well as oranges, because there'll be plenty of those around over the next few weeks.

Gail said...

VIctoria, We have a cat hunting in our garden, too. I stopped feeding the birds when the raccoons moved in, but, this cat is waiting for birds near their birdbath. No cat litter these days to spread about the garden~I will have to try the orange peel. Good luck. gail

Victoria said...

Johnny: Thanks for the encouragement - I'll give it a whirl, just for you (if I can find a water pistol). I must say, it sounds a very satisfying pastime!

Gail: Oh, I would love to see a dear little raccoon in my garden! However, I can imagine that if you have to live with them, they are just as annoying as foxes and squirrels. I have to say, though, I have a secret soft spot for both foxes and squirrels - or for any wildlife that tries to scratch a living in the city. It's just other people's overfed cats I really object to!

Hanna at Orchid Care said...

My backyard seems to be a favorite hangout for raccoons, possums, squirrels, rats and stray cats, birds, butterflies, etc. But more than that, my garden seems to be a free eatery for them all.

I’ve tried everything in my power that isn’t lethal but I’ll be fighting a losing battle until I give in to my husband and employ some drastic measures which will result in critter casualties. I wish they would just go away on their own.

Helle (Helen) said...

I do the water pistol thing, and it does work when I am around, but as also do not have time to sit around all the time looking for cats they will show up when one is not "guarding" the birds. But, they do also get wary and some tend to stay away after a while. Hope you have good results with the peel and cat litter. What has worked for me is spreading out rose cuttings where I don't want the intruders and having prickly plants growing where I feed the birds.

BilboWaggins said...

I've heard that chilli powder is very effective. Buy a large bag from somewhere other than a supermarket (so it will be much chearper) and sprinkle it on the soil where the cats are known to walk/sit/hide.

It won't last in rain (obviously), birds aren't affected by it but cats can taste it and it makes them sneeze. Should be effective without doing any damage.

Also very effective (and I've done it more than once in a previous house) is to lay in wait at a bedroom window with a large bucket of water ..... very wet and p*ssed off cat but no permanent harm done!

Dobby said...

You may find that once yours start going out and claiming their territory, that others stay away. If that fails, you could always try and electric fence!!

Raffi / Gardenology.org said...

I've read that human urine is effective... but I don't know if that's just an urban myth or not.

Susan Tomlinson said...

The squirrels keep cats out of my garden. They keep me out of there, too.

All Seasons Gardener said...

I have the same problem since Fera died - she never bothered with birds but she guarded her 'rights' to her own garden with such fury that no other cat would have dared to bird in our garden. Now Rebus the Cairn does a good job of keeping the cats out when he's in the garden, but once he's indoors, they do tend to appear. I have tried the orange peel approach and it didn't work. The water pistol does, but I often forget where I've left it!