PAWS AND PAGES: Friendly feral deterrents

Many cat-loving Imperial Valley community members know by now that the most effective way in controlling the feral cat overpopulation is through TNR — Trap, Neuter, Return.

The TNR process calls for feral cats in an area or neighborhood to be trapped with a humane trap, spayed or neutered, allowed to recover from anesthesia, and retuned back to their exact area or neighborhood. This ensures that no new feral cats come into the area and that they are not able to procreate, which over time dramatically decreases the number of feral cats within a specific area or neighborhood.

Believe it or not, feral cats have a very specific duty within the community. They keep what some people consider pests (insects, rodents and birds) at bay. Unfortunately, there are some people who view feral cats as pests do not want to deal with them at all, and refuse to practice TNR within their neighborhood.

It’s important to remember, “You don’t have to love animals, just don’t hurt them.” Although some people consider feral cats as pests, they are still living, sentient beings that deserve our respect. Instead of poisoning, shooting, or trapping and dumping feral cats, there are some easy and very inexpensive ways to deter feral cats from entering your lawn or garden that are all safe and 100 percent people- and pet-friendly!

Used coffee grounds: Cats really dislike the smell of coffee. Sprinkling some used coffee grounds around your home, lawn or garden will help to deter feral cats from coming around. You may even be able to get used coffee grounds at a local coffee shop for free!

Cat scat mats: Plastic mats with prickly, plastic teeth irritate, but do not harm their feet. When pressed into the ground, they will repel cats from unwanted areas. These mats can easily be purchased at

Chicken wire: Cats hate the feel of chicken wire on their feet and will not walk where it is laid. Creating different shapes and sizes and pressing into the ground helps to deter them better.

Landscape rocks: Prevent cats from relieving themselves by covering exposed ground with rocks or large gravel. Both can be purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot or any local garden/landscape supplier.

Motorized deterrents: To deter feral cats from larger areas, water, motion or ultrasonic deterrents work best. Some great products are Contech Ultrasonic, Stay Away Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent, and “ScareCrow” Sprinkler Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent. All can be purchased at either or at

Cat repellent: Pellets specially formulated with essential oils and white pepper create an aromatic barrier which discourages cats from entering you lawn or garden and can be purchased at

Dedicated cat area: Kindly ask your neighborhood cat lover to maintain a large-outdoor cat box specifically for feral cats to relieve themselves in. Asking them to plant cat grass and cat nip around this area will attract feral cats and encourage them to visit them designated spots.

If you or someone you know has feral cats in the neighborhood and would like to participate in a TNR program, the Humane Society of Imperial County would be more than happy to assist you in having each feral feline friend spayed or neutered through our low-cost TNR program, for only $25 per cat! To set up a low-cost TNR appointment, give us a call at (760) 352-1911 during our business hours. Thank you for being part of the solution!


Devon Apodaca is executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.

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