Outdoor Cats

The Seattle Animal Shelter believes that a healthy cat is an indoor cat. Indoor cats enjoy longer, safer and healthier lives than those that are outside. If you love your cat, keep it indoors. To learn more see the Indoor Pet Initiative.

Within the city, there is no leash law for cats. Because of this and many other factors, you can expect to see cats roaming in your neighborhood. Additionally, there are many free-roaming cats that do not have a home. These are cats that were domestic pets or were born as feral cats.

While these cats become part of the natural ecosystem, often reducing the rodent population in our neighborhoods, they can also have a negative impact on native wildlife and songbirds. Please spay and neuter your cats and consider keeping them indoors or confined with an outdoor enclosure.

Free-roaming cats

If you are interested in learning more about free-roaming cats and how you can help, see these sites:

Keeping cats out of gardens

Gardeners at Seattle Tilth have put together a list of ways to keep your gardens cat-free. For more information, please consult a gardener.

Cat deterrents for your garden:

  • Chicken wire
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic forks
  • Black pepper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cinnamon
  • Bramble, barberry, hawthorn or rose bush cuttings laid on the soil surface
  • Heavy bark mulch or wood chips
  • Motion sensor sprinklers
  • Blood meal fertilizer
  • Gutter covers
  • Citrus peels
  • River rock or stone mulch over the exposed soil
  • Garlic
  • 6-inch bamboo skewers (pointy side up)
  • Short twigs throughout the planted area about 6" apart
  • Holly leaves
  • Rue
  • Essential oils of orange, lemon, lime, citrus, lemon grass, citronella, mustard
  • Pine cones strewn on surface
  • Lavender
  • Keep your area damp; cats like dry soil
  • Capped jam jars or clear plastic bottles half full of water left at intervals in the flower beds. Cats are scared away by the bottle because light travels through the bottle and the water which is then reflected away like laser beams in different directions giving off little flashes.
  • Give them their own areas to keep them out of where you don't want them. Plant cat-attracting plants into those areas.
  • Plants that attract cats are: catnip, purple fountain grass, barley grass, oat grass, wheat grass, flax, wheat berries, cat mint, Carex elata 'Bolwes Golden,' valerian, Jacob's Ladder, lemon grass, Striped Ribbon Grass (only in a container), cat thyme, silver-vine, mints (only in a container), sweetgrass
  • Give him his own areas to dig in with loose soil and/or fine-textured mulch