How Can I Keep the Neighbor's Cat Out of My Yard?

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Q. My neighbor's cat constantly wanders into my yard. I’m a cat lover, but when that cat goes by, my cat goes nuts. How can I keep him out?

A. If you know the cat's owners and feel comfortable discussing the situation with them, you could suggest that they either convert the animal to an indoor-only life (with a catio) or put up special fencing to keep their cat from roaming. (If you’ve never heard of “cat fencing,” a web search on the term will turn up a handful of companies that make this product, along with some instructions if you are a handy do-it-yourselfer.) The owners may not be aware that their cat is causing problems for others, and in the interest of being good neighbors (and responsible cat owners), they may be willing to keep their pet inside.

If you don’t know who owns the cat, or if it’s someone with whom you can’t safely and constructively discuss the issue, you still have some options.

Tell Kitty to Keep Out

You can discourage the neighbor’s cat from setting paws on your property — or at least from walking through the part of the yard where your cat can see the trespasser — by buying a sprinkler that turns on when its motion detector is activated. Designed to keep raccoons, rabbits, deer and other wildlife out of gardens, these sprinklers deliver a startling but otherwise harmless blast of water, which should discourage repeat visits. While you don't want to set the sprinkler up where it will blast your mail carrier, visitors or innocent passers-by, these sprinklers work pretty well in situations like the one you're describing here.

What about trapping the cat and taking him to your municipal animal control facility? I bring it up because I know many pet owners are curious about that option. I can’t recommend it for one reason: The chances are very good that the cat will never come home again. The percentage of adult cats reclaimed by their owners or rehomed is low in most shelters, and I personally don’t believe a cat deserves to die simply for stepping off his owner’s property.

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