It can be a pain to come outside, looking to sit and enjoy the weather on your patio furniture, only to notice cat hair and scratches all over. Whether it’s your own cats, stray cats, or a neighbor’s cats, the problem remains the same: how do you keep cats off of outdoor patio furniture?
Luckily there are plenty of options available to you. All of which are harmless to the animals. Some of them can be done with regular household items while others require a small investment. Read on to discover how to keep cats off outdoor patio furniture.
Buy a Scratching Post
If your main problem is your cats scratching the outdoor patio furniture, a scratching post that doubles as a bed and lounge area is a good idea. Cats scratch things for several reasons. One of them being that it’s a way to mark their territory. They have scent glands in their paws that effectively mark whatever they scratch. They also do it to stretch their muscles and keep their claws trimmed.
So if your cats like to scratch your patio furniture, it may mean they need a scratching post of their own. Just make sure to get one that will allow your cats to stretch all the way up to scratch, otherwise, they probably won’t use it.
If you get a post that doubles as a lounge area, you may even keep your cats from laying on your patio furniture and leaving it a hairy mess. Here’s a highly-rated one available on Amazon.
Remove the Cushions
If your main problem is cat hair all over your outdoor furniture, a simple solution is just to remove the cushions when you’re not using them. Cats like to be comfortable, and if there are no cushions to lie on, your cats will find another place to lounge. You could even flip the cushions up on the furniture, but some clever cats will simply flip them back down.
Move the Furniture
Sometimes the only reason cats get on furniture is because it’s a way to get somewhere else. They may jump on the furniture to get up on a window sill, or some other perch that looks attractive to them. The simple solution to this is to move the furniture, if possible.
Use a Spray Bottle
If you have the time and inclination you can train your cats to stay off of the furniture. All it takes is a spray bottle with some water in it and a bit of patience. Whenever your cat goes to jump onto or scratch at the furniture, spray a bit of water on him or her. As you probably already know, cats hate getting wet. But don’t worry, they tend to get over it pretty quickly. And if you do it enough times, the cat will start to associate the furniture with water, causing him or her to avoid it altogether.
This solution only works if you’re dealing with your own cats. Stray cats are skittish and won’t likely come close to the furniture if there’s a human around. But there are other solutions for issues with stray cats.
Try Aluminum Foil
It’s not very pretty, but using sheets of aluminum foil is a good way to keep cats off your furniture. They don’t seem to like the feeling or sound of walking on foil, which is a harmless and effective way to keep them from dirtying up your furniture. If you do this long enough, the cats may get the picture and stay away from the furniture, even after you take the foil off.
Try Double-Sided Tape
If you don’t like the look of foil on your furniture (to be expected), then you may want to try double-sided tape. This is most effective for keeping cats from scratching, as you don’t want to be sitting on tape every time you use the patio furniture. But, if scratching is the main problem, this could be an easy solution that’s also less of an eyesore than foil.
The main problem with this technique is that most people don’t have a ton of double-sided tape lying around. And if they do, it would take a long time to apply the tiny ribbons of tape along the edge of the furniture. So, for a quick solution, you can get specially made double-sided anti-scratch pads. They’re made for exactly this purpose and they won’t damage the furniture. Plus they’re easy to put on and take off.
Try Furniture Protectors
An alternative to the double-sided tape is furniture protectors. Instead of being sticky on the outside to prevent your cat from scratching, these are made out of slick plastic on the outside so that the cat’s claws can’t find purchase. They’re easy to cut and form to any kind of outdoor (or indoor) furniture. Plus, they’re sticky on the inside and include small push-pins for any surface. People seem to love these, as evidenced by their excellent reviews.
Use a Commercial Spray
We’ll go over what you shouldn’t use as far as sprays and repellents at the end of the article. For now, we’ll just say that, if you do go for a liquid repellent, make sure it’s made for cats specifically and is safe for use. Unfortunately, you may be rolling the dice when ordering a liquid cat repellent. Even products with good reviews don’t seem to work for some of the customers. All in all, there are probably better ways to keep cats off your patio furniture. But, one of the best-reviewed products out there is Nature’s Mace Cat Mace. They have a spray version and a granular version for you to choose from.
Use an Ultrasonic Repellent
One alternative to sprays is ultrasonic repellent units. They’re solar-powered, and so need to be placed in direct sunlight for much of the day. This is probably the biggest downside if you have a covered patio. But still, they tend to have a fairly wide range of motion. This one, from Broox, has a 110-degree arc and works up to 30-feet away. You can also charge it via a USB port if you can’t find a spot to position it in the sun.
It has a motion sensor attached that activates the ultrasonic signal that scares the cats (and other animals) out of the area. So these are generally best for use on feral cats, unless you want to keep your cat off of your patio altogether.
If you go searching on Amazon for one of these, be warned. For whatever reason, there’s a ton of reviews for other products for many of these ultrasonic repellents. So make sure to read several reviews and make sure they’re for the product you’re looking at. It’s a big problem and I hope Amazon gets it under control soon. The one mentioned above didn’t have any false reviews, as far as I could tell, but it’s best to look for yourself.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Most people have a bottle of apple cider vinegar sitting in the pantry. Every cat is different, but most don’t like the smell of this stuff. You can mix vinegar and equal parts water in a spray bottle and then spray it around your outdoor furniture. Keep this up once a day until you notice a difference. If it doesn’t work after a couple of weeks, the cats may not mind it and you should try something else.
Other Natural Options
There are many smells that cats don’t like. Again, no two cats are the same, but the following food items can usually act as effective repellents to keep cats away.
- Citrus – Leaving some citrus rinds around the patio can keep cats away, at least until the smell fades. But remember that cats have an excellent sense of smell, so they’ll be able to smell the citrus long after it has gone from your nose.
- Coffee Grounds – Maybe not the best option for keeping cats off of furniture, as they’re most often used in gardens. But, placing a jar of coffee grounds on the patio, with holes in the lid, may work to keep some cats away.
- Citronella – Cats hate the pungent smell of citronella. You can simply place a plant or two on your patio to keep them away or use a non-toxic citronella spray.
- Mint – A mixture of mint mouthwash diluted in water can be a good way to keep cats away from forbidden furniture. Simply spray it around to keep cats away.
- Herbs – If you want to keep cats away while growing fresh and tasty herbs, you’ve got some options. Cats don’t like the smell of lavender, rosemary, or chives. Grow some near your outdoor furniture and you’ve got a cat repellent and a sweet-smelling plant.
For Feral Cats, Call a Non-Profit
If stray or feral cats are a problem in your area, calling a non-profit animal shelter is the best thing you can do. You can always call animal control to deal with the problem, but before you do you should realize that the vast majority of cats who end up in animal shelters will be euthanized.
There are no-kill shelters that often use a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) tactic. This helps keep feral cat populations low. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to keep them off your patio furniture, since they’re often returned to the area in which they live.
A quick search can present you with options for having the cats removed, but many shelters, unless it’s clear they are no-kill, won’t necessarily volunteer their euthanasia policy. Many states don’t require shelters to report how many animals they kill each year. Unless it’s to TNR the cats in your area, calling a shelter should ideally be the last resort.
What NOT to Use as Cat Repellent
The internet is full of suggestions for cat repellent that can injure and in some cases kill cats. This is why I’ve decided to list a few things you shouldn’t use when trying to keep cats off your outdoor patio furniture.
Mothballs are designed to kill moths and their larvae, usually to keep them from feeding on stored clothing. They are typically made with one of two pesticides, naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene, which is also known as PBD, para, and 1,4-dichlorobenzene.
Both of these chemicals are believed to be carcinogens by several state and federal health organizations. You will often see people suggest that using mothballs to keep cats away from certain areas or off furniture is a good idea.
However, mothballs are considered dangerous to animals— not just when ingested, but also when inhaled. According to the VCA Animal Hospital website, mothballs should never be used as an animal repellent. In fact, they shouldn’t be used in any way but as directed on the box, which usually involves sealing the mothballs in with clothing.
Another tactic some people suggest is diluting and spraying essential oils on the furniture. But, according to Pet Poison Helpline’s website, essential oils can be toxic to cats. They can cause respiratory issues when inhaled and serious health issues when ingested. Cats are highly sensitive to some essential oils and they don’t have an enzyme that allows them to eliminate volatile toxins like those found in essential oils.
Even diluted, essential oils should be kept out of reach of cats and never used as a repellent technique.
Some online blogs also advise using cayenne or black pepper to mix a kind of mace to keep cats away. This concoction can get into a cat’s (and human’s) eyes, which can be extremely painful. While this option is better than some that can actually kill cats, there are better options around, and ones that won’t burn your own eyeballs on accident.