Friday, October 20, 2017

How To Keep Cats Away


I am often asked how to keep cats away from yards. Cats are unpredictable, so there are few sure-fire cat repellents. But below I consider some of the best approaches known to keep cats away from yards. Broadly speaking, we can label all of these diverse approaches as “cat repellents,” since they are all designed to repel unwanted feline intruders from a specific area. But I’ll also provide an example of the commercial products more narrowly associated with the label, “cat repellents,” namely, products that come in a can and are sprinkled on the ground to keep cats away.

A Cat Repellent Before You Even Begin

If you haven’t planted a flower bed yet, but you anticipate having trouble keeping cats out of your yard, be aware that one of the most effective cat repellents is readily available at most any hardware store: chicken wire.

No, I’m not going to suggest you erect a chicken-wire fence. Instead, lay chicken wire down on top of your soil (or mulch, if you’re using mulch in the bed), across the planting bed, before you plant. Why? Because cats disdain walking on chicken wire. Using wire cutters, you’ll be able to open up pockets in the chicken wire sufficiently large for installing your plants.

Cat Repellents After the Fact: 10 Ways to Keep Cats Away From Yards

But what if it’s too late for the chicken-wire option? Not to worry. The ten cat repellents on which I focus below are all intended for existing garden beds. While on the subject of wire, I’ll begin with electric wire fences.

1. Like rabbits, cats can be kept away humanely with the Mr. McGregor Fence. This fence is so safe that even Responsible Consumer.Net recommends it.
Water: The Ultimate Cat Repellent?
Sometimes, to keep cats away from a yard, you have to think like a cat. Put yourself in the cat’s place. Observe cat behaviour. For instance, they’re pretty fussy creatures, aren’t they?
One of the things cats are fussy about is getting wet. Water is “kryptonite for cats.” Getting wet seems to be almost a phobia for them. Use that phobia to your advantage in trying to keep cats away from yards.

2. When you catch cats in the forbidden area, you can try hosing them down with a Super Soaker or similar water gun. Such action may reinforce the notion that they are unwanted in your planting bed.

3. But if that doesn’t work, you can go hi-tech. Devices such as Scarecrow Sprinklers detect an intruder’s presence and fire a blast of water at it.
Thinking like a cat again, another thing we can say cats are fussy about is how something smells. You can use feline fastidiousness to keep cats away from your yard in a number of ways:
Commercial Cat Repellents

4. One of the commercial cat repellents available is a powder called, “Shake-Away.” Shake-Away bears the scent of the urine of predators that cats fear, namely, the coyote, the fox and the bobcat. This commercial cat repellent comes in a granular form, which you simply sprinkle around the problem area. The product is advertised as being organic, making it an acceptable option to use around children and pets. Nor will it harm your plants.

Plants That Are Cat Repellents

5. Some plants give off smells that cats dislike. One such plant, Coleus canina, goes by the common name, “scaredy cat plant.” As the second term in the Latin name indicates (think “canine”), it is also effective if you have trouble landscaping with dogs. Other plants often recommended for keeping cats away from yards are:
• rue,
• lavender, which deer pests also dislike
• pennyroyal

Other Substances That Double as Cat Repellents

6. Try sprinkling “stinky” substances around the problem area, including:
• dried-blood (“blood meal”) fertilizer
• mothballs (drop them into a can or jar, cover, and make a few holes in the cover)
• cayenne pepper flakes (but see below)

Note that mothballs are toxic, thus the recommendation that you use them in a covered can or jar. Avoid even this usage if small children will be in the yard and could, potentially, open such a can or jar. Note also that some people caution against using cayenne pepper in this fashion, saying it can be harmful to cats. So if you’re an animal lover or tend to be on the cautious side, then save the cayenne pepper to flavour your food!

http://landscaping.about.com/od/pestcontrol/a/cat_repellents.htm

Still “thinking like a cat” to figure out how to keep cats out of gardens, let’s consider something else cats are fussy about: the texture of what they step on. After all, it’s not for nothing we have the expression, “pussyfooting around.” I already mentioned chicken wire in this context.
How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden: No “Pussyfooting Around”

7. Cats don’t like to walk on bristly material. So in mulching the problem bed, include something on which the refined paws of cats will fear to tread, such as sharp-edged pine cones.

8. Another mulch-related idea is to use stone mulch. It may not be the most attractive mulch for your particular bed, but cats prefer to poop in loose dirt. Cats usually won’t bother with an area mulched in stone. They’d rather be “pussyfooting around” where the digging’s easier on their paws.

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden: Striking a Compromise

As in landscaping with dogs, sometimes the path of least resistance provides the best solution to your problem. Strike a compromise with your cat by planting a separate bed of catnip plants, in another part of the yard. Not all cats go nuts over catnip plants, but those who do may come to view their “catnip patch” as their own private sanctuary.

9. Better still, make a sandbox just for cats and keep it in close proximity to the catnip plants. Chances are that the sandbox will serve as a magnet for cat poop. Sure, you’ll have to clean up the cat poop afterwards. But at least you’ll know where it is.

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden: Hi-Tech to the Rescue, Again
Hi-tech approaches to keeping cats out of gardens don’t stop with the motion-activated sprinklers mentioned. You can also keep cats out of gardens using ultrasound.

10. Simple to install, this sonic cat scarer can be set up within seconds. Effective in all weather conditions, it also provides 50% more coverage than other cat repellers on the market. One unit can protect a garden of up to 40 feet in length. For larger gardens the repeller can be used solely to target problem areas or in multiples to cover the entire area. The ultrasonic frequency emitted is inaudible to humans, so will not hinder your enjoyment of your outdoor areas.

                    

Fleas In Your Home


Fleas are wingless insects (1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long) that are agile, usually dark coloured (for example, the reddish-brown of the cat flea), with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm), making the flea one of the best jumpers of all known animals (relative to body size), second only to the froghopper. According to an article in Science News, “researchers with the University of Cambridge in England have shown that fleas take off from their tibiae and tarsi—the insect equivalent of feet—and not their trochantera, or knees. The researchers report their conclusion in the March 1 Journal of Experimental Biology.”

It has been known that fleas do not use muscle power but energy stored in a protein named resilin but the researchers used high-speed video technology and mathematical models to discover where the spring action actually happens. Their bodies are laterally compressed, permitting easy movement through the hairs or feathers on the host’s body (or in the case of humans, under clothing). The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward, which also assist its movements on the host. The tough body is able to withstand great pressure, likely an adaptation to survive attempts to eliminate them by mashing or scratching. Even hard squeezing between the fingers is normally insufficient to kill a flea.
It is possible to eliminate them by pressing individual fleas with adhesive tape or softened beeswax (or “cheese” wax) or by rolling a flea briskly between the fingers to disable it then crushing it between the fingernails. Fleas also can be drowned in soapy water.

Fleas lay tiny white oval-shaped eggs better viewed through a loupe. The larva is small, pale, has bristles covering its worm-like body, lacks eyes, and has mouthparts adapted to chewing. The larvae feed on various organic matter, especially the feces of mature fleas. The adult flea’s diet consists solely of fresh blood. In the pupa phase, the larva is enclosed in a silken, debris-covered cocoon.

Fleas are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching, etc. in the vicinity of the parasite. Fleas are not simply a source of annoyance, however. Some people and animals suffer allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in rashes. Flea bites generally result in the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre (similar to a mosquito bite). The bites often appear in clusters or lines of two bites, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks afterwards. Fleas can also lead to hair loss as a result of frequent scratching and biting by the animal, and can cause anemia in extreme cases.

For the home

Combating a flea infestation in the home takes patience because for every flea found on an animal, there could be many more developing in the home. A spot-on insecticide will kill the fleas on the pet and in turn the pet itself will be a roving flea trap and mop up newly hatched fleas. The environment should be treated with a fogger or spray insecticide containing an insect growth regulator, such as pyriproxyfen or methoprene to kill eggs and pupae, which are quite resistant against insecticides. Frequent vacuuming is also helpful, but the vacuum bag must be disposed of immediately afterwards.

http://www.orkin.com/other/fleas/

Diatomaceous earth can also be used as a home flea treatment in lieu of acetylcholinesterase inhibitory treatments or insecticides which carry with them a risk of poisoning for both humans and animals. However, Diatomaceous earth is at least potentially dangerous to pets and people when inhaled, so care in use is recommended. Application is effective on both the interior and exterior of one’s property, but the efficacy of Diatomaceous earth is diminished when introduced to water. Because Diatomaceous earth is commonly available in food grade quality, it is also possible to leave it exposed in areas typically vulnerable to fleas and other insects.

Baking Soda is also used to kill via dehydration, it’s available in large amounts as a food grade material and safe for family and pets when used inside the home (carpets and floors) a layer can be sprinkled onto a carpet and worked into the fibers down to where the larvae and eggs are to dehydrate and kill them. It can be easily vacuumed up afterwards with safe disposal… often multiple weekly treatments will be required to remove an infestation completely.

Table Salt Can also be used inside the home in the same way as or in combination with Baking Soda as a low cost and safe method of breaking their life cycle.
Dried pennyroyal has been suggested as a natural flea control, but is not recommended in homes with pets due to its high toxicity to mammals.
Borax is sold as a “Natural Laundry Booster” and can also be used as another home treatment for flea infestations. Borax contains sodium borate which kills fleas by dehydrating them, but its safety for pets is untested.

Using dehumidifiers with air conditioning and vacuuming all may interrupt the flea life cycle. Humidity is critical to flea survival. Eggs need relative humidity of at least 70–75% to hatch, and larvae need at least 50% humidity to survive. In humid areas, about 20% of the eggs survive to adulthood; in arid areas, less than 5% complete the cycle. Fleas thrive at higher temperatures, but need 70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C) to survive. Lower temperatures slow down or completely interrupt the flea life-cycle. A laboratory study done at the University of California showed that vacuuming catches about 96% of adult fleas. A combination of controlled humidity, temperature, and vacuuming should eliminate fleas from an environment. Altering even one of these environmental factors may be enough to drastically lower and eliminate an infestation.

Get Rid of Fleas: Flea Control
Flea infestations require multi-faceted treatment plans. Addressing a pet’s infestation or individual flea bites will not prove effective for ridding your home of fleas. Effective flea control should encompass both chemical and natural methods and should be conducted on your pet as well as inside and outside of your home. Of course the primary plan of action should be to examine your pet daily. Catching fleas early will hamper their effect on your pets and in your house.
Fleas are not the only pests that can cause discomfort to your pet. Contacting your veterinarian and pest control professional will help you determine if the problem impacting your pet is fleas. They will encourage you before they arrive to ensure that your home is clean: vacuum thoroughly, sweep and mop hard-surfaced floors, wash all bedding and linens and clear the floor of debris.
After taking these steps, your pest control professional will administer proper treatment to infested locations within and outside of your home. Your pest control professional may ask you to complete other tasks around your home in preparation for treatment. They can also help advise you on ways to prevent future flea incursions and the best shampoos once fleas are on your pets.