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Nuisance cats

Roaming cats can cause a nuisance

There are a number of ways to deter cats from coming on to your property:

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper, mustard, vinegar, eucalyptus or citronella oil around the problem areas.
  • Smear Vaseline on the top of fences and posts to prevent cats from getting a grip.

Make a herbal spray using the following recipe:

  • Boil a handful of Rue (Ruta graveolens) in a litre of water for ten minutes.
  • Allow it to stand for eight hours before straining it through a piece of muslin cloth (or a stocking) into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the mixture around the areas you want to protect from nuisance cats. The smell is offensive to cats and fools them into believing there is already a dominant cat on the premises.
  • Repeat twice daily for up to a week to ensure the cat does not return.
  • To prevent cats digging at night, water the area just before dark. Cats do not like to have wet, muddy feet.
  • Cover children’s sandpits when not in use, particularly at night.
  • To clean up cat urine, dissolve bicarbonate of soda in water and scrub the affected area. Follow with a white vinegar rinse. This method is environmentally safe and is an effective disinfectant, deodorant and cleaning agent. Do not use ammonia-based cleaners as they have an old urine-type smell that will only encourage cats to urinate in that area even more.


If an uninvited cat is sleeping on the roof or bonnet of your car, hang ping-pong balls on fishing line from the roof of the garage at a height at which they just miss the car but will hit the cat. The balls will annoy the cat so much that it will find another place to sleep.

Contacting the owner of a nuisance cat

If you are able to identify the owner of the nuisance cat, it may be worth discussing the issue with them. Many people are not aware that their cat is causing a nuisance, so approach the discussion in a friendly and constructive manner. Treat the issue as a shared problem and work together to find a solution, as this will achieve better long-term results.

If the nuisance cat is only a problem at certain times you could request that the owner keeps the cat inside at these times. Keeping a cat inside at night is important for its safety, as research has found that 94% of accidents involving cats occur at night.

You may wish to discuss fence modifications with your neighbours. A wide, inward-facing, tilted ledge added to the top of an existing fence will block cats trying to climb or jump the fence. Ensure there are no overhanging trees for the cat to climb. Alternatively, you could cover your fence with a climbing rose bush.

There are also a number of commercial products for fence modifications available, a variety of which can be found on the internet.

Contact your local council before making any modifications to your fence.

Persistent nuisance cat problems

If the nuisance cat continues to be a problem after you have taken all reasonable steps to address the issue, contact your local council. Animal Management Officers may be able to provide you with further advice on how to deter cats from entering your property.

You can set traps for cats, or arrange for a council-approved contractor to do so.

If an unidentified (no collar with owner contact details or no M in the ear indicating it is microchipped) cat is caught in the trap take it to the Animal Welfare League, the RSPCA, or a vet. Those organisations will scan the cat for a microchip and if possible make contact with the owner. If no owner can be located, they may lawfully keep, rehome or euthanase the cat.

If the cat is identified (wearing a collar with owner contact details attached or has the letter M tattooed in its ear) it must be released from the trap immediately. If you do not release the cat you are breaking the law.

If you have a free living cat population in your area, contact your local council to report the location of the colony.

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