It’s a wonderful day outside; perfect to enjoy some quiet time in the patio. You grab your book, your favorite drink, and head that way—only to find that a cat (yours or otherwise) has been in the area, and your favorite chair is the worse for it. You probably want to lie in wait for hours on end, spray bottle in hand, and take care of the intruders as soon as they appear… but, let’s face it, it’s just not practical. How to keep cats off of outdoor furniture, then? As it turns out, there are several ways, many of them fairly simple to implement; and which we have compiled for you in the present article.
Why Keep Cats off of Patio Furniture?
Before we get into the varying solutions that exist, we feel the need to point out the following: though it could seem like the cat (or cats) in question might have it in for you, the truth is different; there are, in fact, specific reasons for the sort of actions a cat takes upon your furniture.
Cats Scratch the Furniture
A cat’s claws get dirty; scratching is the best way they have of cleaning them. It also helps provide them exercise, by way of stretching. It is also a manner of marking territory, as scratching engages the scent glands on their paws. And, last but not least—sometimes they do it simply to relieve stress.
Urinating on Outdoor Furniture
The response that may more easily come to mind is, probably, marking territory; there are, however, several other possible causes, some of which might require immediate attention.
- Medical issues: Certain conditions, such as a urinary infection or the onset of diabetes, can prompt the cat to ignore the litter box and choose other places.
- Separation anxiety: Some cats become attached to a specific person (and sometimes, it’s not even the one that lobbied to get them adopted). When said person is away for a while, the cat copes by urinating on places (clothes, cushions) where the favored human’s scent is strong, in an effort to mingle that scent with theirs.
- Safety need: In some cases, a cat can feel wary of its surroundings—because of another household animal that is being particularly aggressive, for example. This makes the feline take care of business at a more elevated spot, which gives it a vantage point to spot any perceived threats early and flee if necessary.
Deterrents to Keep Cats Off Patio Furniture
Now we know there is no reason to resent the cat for doing what it does; it’s time to explore your alternatives for convincing it to leave your favorite chair alone.
Cats, like many animals, have very sensitive noses, which we can turn to our advantage in quite a few ways. And the good news is, many of these will only be unpleasant to the cat—not to you!
It can be as simple as this. Choose the right plant, and your cat will stay away from the neighboring area. Among the plants that you can choose from are geranium, lavender, rosemary, citronella and lemongrass.
Catnip is also effective, but in a different way: plant it in an area of your yard where you don’t mind visitors, and every cat who comes around will favor that spot instead of your furniture.
In case you’re tempted to choose a plant called ‘scaredy cat’: it will, indeed, keep those unwanted visitors at bay, but be warned—its strong, pee-like smell might be unpleasant to some people.
If gardening is not your thing, then you can opt for creating your own repellent, applying the same principle as with the plant method: smell.
You can, for example, make a potpourri, i.e. a mix of dried plants and fruits, incorporating some of the smells that cats avoid. Orange and lemon peels are a fairly good choice; add a blend of citronella oil, lemon juice and water, and you got yourself a pretty potent deterrent, which can be left outside by your seating area or separated in smaller packets, which can then be shoved between cushions.
Alternatively, you can make a solution for spraying on your furniture. As mentioned before, anything citrus (lemon, orange and so on) is a good choice; you can also dilute some vinegar, and spray the resulting mix.
Avoid using essential oils, as some may be harmful to your cat upon inhalation. You can always spray your choice of repellent on the base of the furniture, so your cushions don’t have to bear it.
Commercial Cat Repellents
For nearly every need, there’s a product, and repelling cats is no exception. There are liquid repellents in the market, made with the same sort of elements (citrus, lavender and so on) that we have discussed before, and which claim to keep those stubborn felines at bay; per our findings, however, it appears that your mileage may vary.
For an alternative that will work on other animals aside from cats (though it requires some setting up depending on the type you’re dealing with), you can go for an ultrasonic repellent; place it somewhere in your yard—sunlight exposure is important, to stay at full charge— and configure it.
Upon sensing movement it will send a sound that cannot be heard by us, but which will upset more acute hearings to the point of forcing a retreat. Some of these devices come with flashing lights too, to further scare animals off.
Hands-On Cat Deterrent’s for the Deck or Patio
Whereas a repellent will require minimal effort, the following options will take some extra work—and they might change the way you enjoy your seating area, in some cases.
With this, we don’t mean walling up your furniture. The solutions, in this case, are more akin to a moat—the cat could, in theory, pass through, but she will hate it so much she won’t even try. One such alternative is aluminum foil, which cats don’t like feeling on their paws.
Another one, which they loathe even more, is double-sided tape. Place either of these around the base of the furniture, and they will stay well away. Worth noting, however, that these alternatives might be best for when the furnishings won’t be used for a while, such as in winter.
Here, we aim to modify an area so the cat will be happier there that on your favorite chair. Select a spot (close to where you sit might work even better), give it some shade and add in cushions and some of the cat’s favorite toys. A scratching post might just be the thing that seals the deal, as long as it meets certain requirements.
Per the Humane Society, cats prefer to scratch on tall, sturdy items—which is why they like your furniture so much. For this reason, they recommend scratching posts that are “at least 32” tall, will not wobble when scratched, and made of a type of rope called sisal”.
In short, scratching posts such as this one, which even comes with a little toy at the top. For best results, it is recommended to place the post wherever your cat likes to get her scratching done; if it’s somewhere in the living room, then that’s where the post should be.
This comfort thing can be done on the reverse too—namely, by making the furniture in question uncomfortable; simply keep the chair’s cushions in storage whenever you’re not sitting in there, and your cat might decide her time is better spent elsewhere.
Of course, you can always bring the whole chair into storage—where the cat can’t get to it—while you’re not using it.
Sometimes, the one motivation on your cat’s part is spending time with you. If you notice the cat comes to the furniture while you are occupying it, then it might be a good idea to spend some quality time together so she won’t think co-opting a chair is the only way to get some attention.
Furthermore, cats are trainable—though it can take a great deal of perseverance. Use positive reinforcement to gradually direct your cat’s attention elsewhere, and away from the areas you want to keep off-limits.
If the cat in question happens to belong in another household, there’s always one alternative that may very well work: talk to the owner. Odds are, they will take appropriate steps to keep their cherished feline out of your space.
Coda: On Declawing
It’s not unheard of: some pet owners have seemingly tried everything, and the only solution they see is to simply take care of the problem at the root. If this is something you’ve been thinking, please keep reading.
Contrary to what people may think, declawing is not a mani-pedi; it’s more complicated than that, a procedure which can bring about medical (and behavioral) issues down the road. Furthermore, there’s really no need to go to such extremes.
Aside from the options we have presented, you can always trim her claws—in other words, an actual mani-pedi. A quick internet search will net you several articles and videos on how to do this. It will require periodical do-overs, but it provides the benefits of declawing without its side effects.