RSPCA Australia encourages owners to contain of cats within their property boundaries to help protect cats from disease and injury, avoid them becoming lost, reduce the impact on wildlife, and prevent disturbance to neighbours.
First, assess if the cat is owned (e.g., do they have a collar or microchip?) and if they need help (e.g., are they sick, injured, vulnerable?), and if so, contact the relevant authority for assistance.
Contact your neighbour
If you know who owns the cat, try contacting them and asking if they can keep their cat contained. If they are open to receiving information about the benefits of cat containment and how to keep their cat at home, you could share the RSPCA Keeping Your Cat Safe and Happy at Home resources.
If you do not want a cat on your property, there are several measures you can take:
- Remove attractants
- Modify your garden and fences
- Deploy deterrence strategies
Remove anything that may attract cats to your property (e.g., food, open bins, rodents, undesexed cats).
Modify your garden and fences
You can modify your garden and fences to limit cats’ access to your property.
- Modify fences to prevent entry (e.g., netting, rolling cylinders, sheeting)
- Limit access via tree climbing by fixing a smooth metal or plastic band around the trunks of trees around your property boundary
- Choose plants that are spiky or strong-smelling (e.g., lavender, lemongrass, geraniums, rosemary, rue)
- Mulch garden beds with pebbles, pine cones or large bark mulch as some cats prefer toileting in loose dirt
- Install barriers (e.g., lattice) to physically block access
Some people who want to deter cats from their yard use certain sounds (e.g., ultrasonic deterrents) or scents (e.g., eucalyptus, vinegar, coffee, citrus) that may be aversive to cats. However, we urge caution if you are considering this – these measures may inadvertently attract cats, may be toxic (such as citrus peels), and may also affect other animals in the vicinity (including companion animals and wildlife), so consider the potential impacts before deploying these methods. Consider less harmful deterrents (e.g., motion activated sprinklers).
Contact your council
Some people, if all else fails, think about cage trapping – however, trapping should only be carried out by experienced and trained personnel following protocols that minimise harm to cats and wildlife (who may be accidentally trapped). The sale, setting and use of animal traps is regulated, and you should be aware of your obligations under the relevant laws. Your local council may provide information on the requirements in your area.
Some councils around Australia are enacting responsible cat ownership policies (e.g., subsidies for cat containment systems) and local laws (e.g., cat curfews, cat exclusion zones) to encourage owners to keep their cats at home. You can contact your council to encourage them to adopt policies and local laws to prevent cats roaming the neighbourhood.