Tips for Living with Community Cats

Irving, along with virtually every other city, town and rural community in the country, is home to colonies of feral cats. These cats are fearful of people and live their lives outdoors, surviving in the same way wild animals do.

Although some residents may enjoy having the cats around, others may not. The following information may be helpful for those residents wanting to deter these cats from their properties.

Common Issues

Black feral cat with striking yellow eyes and tipped ear.
  1. Garden
  2. Insects
  3. Mating
  4. Property
  5. Trash
  6. Resources

Cat lying on ground in flower garden.

Cats are digging in my garden/flowerbeds.

Explanation: It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig and urinate/defecate in soft soil, moss, mulch or sand.


  • Scatter fresh orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco and essential oils of lavender, lemongrass, citronella and eucalyptus also deter cats.
  • Plant the herb rue to repel cats, or sprinkle dried rue over the garden.
  • Use plastic carpet runners, and place them spike-side up, then cover lightly in soil. They can be found at local hardware or office supply stores. Or, lay chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.
  • Arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or place lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings. You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pine cones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed 8 inches apart.
  • Place Cat Scat mats into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large, attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging. They have the added benefit of deterring weeds.