You turn out the lights to go to bed, and that’s when you hear the growling coming from the yard. It turns out some feral cats decided to make the crawlspace under your porch their home for the winter – cute, well, kind of.
Having a stray cat move into your yard might seem cute and cuddly, but strays have some issues. They don’t have the same domestication as housecats, and they can have wild temperaments. Males and females don’t receive any neutering or spaying, and they have all their glands intact, along with a raging hormone system.
Therefore, a feral cat is more like a wild animal than a pet. If you walk out onto your porch, you might notice that it smells like cat pee.
Why Do Cats Spray?
Strays like to mark their territory, especially if there are dogs or other cats around. Spraying smells terrible, and the cat will keep on doing it as long as they hang out on your property.
Cats have a hyper sense of smell, and they communicate through a special language of scents. Typically, a housecat spreads its fragrance on you by rubbing its cheeks and the corners of its mouth on you.
These areas of the cat’s head have scent glands they use to mark you as their owner (or, in the case of most cats, marking you as their pet).
However, while strays also use these glands, they also spray to mark territory. The spray has a pungent smell, and it contains other communication biochemicals like pheromones. These biochemical markers help the cat leave a calling card to any other animal that wanders into their territory.
How Do I Detect Spraying?
When stray cats spray around your porch, they back up to it while standing up and lift their tail. As they spray, it’s common for strays to twitch their tail, although veterinary science has no idea why.
It’s fairly easy to identify this spray visually against freshly painted surfaces with lighter colors.
However, if you have varnished, sealed, or stained wood, it will make it challenging to identify the affected area with a visual inspection.
How Do I Stop Stray Cats from Spraying on My Porch?
If you have a stray lurking around your property at night, it’s possible to keep them from spraying your porch. Here are a few tips to get the kitty’s to move onto another area where they won’t cause a fuss or a smell.
Keep Stray Cats Away with Scents
As mentioned, cats have a hyper sense of smell. According to animal research, a cat’s sense of smell is between nine to 16-times stronger than humans.
You can take advantage of this natural feature in cats by leaving citrus scents around your porch. Cats can’t stand citrus aromas. They hate the smell of oranges and lemons, and they’ll avoid areas with these smells.
One way of preventing strays from spraying your porch is to leave fresh citrus peels around the areas where you think they spray. However, unless you’re a regular citrus eater, chances are you’re not going to have enough peels to use every day.
If that’s the case, get a citrus-scented air freshener and leave it around the spray area.
Cat’s also have an aversion to vinegar. They can’t stand the scent of it, and they’ll avoid visiting anywhere with a vinegary smell. Vinegar makes a great natural disinfectant for cleaning up the areas where strays spray, and it also drives them away.
The ASPCA recommends homeowners and pet owners clean up sprays with an enzymatic cleanser to eliminate germs and parasites in the urine while neutralizing odor. However, it won’t do anything to stop the cat spraying on your porch.
Set Up a Motion-Detector Spray Device
Cats can’t stand getting wet. We’ve all seen the hilarious videos on YouTube of cats accidentally falling in the bath or getting stuck in the shower.
Setting up a motion-sensor spray device in the spraying area around your porch is a great way to get the cat to flee instead of pee.
These devices are small and discreet, and they come with battery=powered operation. You can fill the tank with diluted lemon juice and set it up to operate overnight.
When the device detects the cat, it sprays a small amount of water into the animal’s direction, causing it to flee.
Secure the Cat Flap
If you have a pet flap in your home and stray cats roaming around your yard, secure the cat flap. Stray cats are brave, and they’ll enter your house looking for food. Many strays carry fleas that cause disease and other parasites like toxoplasma.
If a stray gets into your home through a cat flap, it might start a fight with your cat. There’s no way your kitty can stand up to the wild will of a feral, and they probably get severely injured in the conflict.
If you don’t have cats, and there’s a stray around, close your windows at night. Cats are climbing experts, and they’ll get into your home through an open window, even if you think it’s impossible. When they get inside, expect them to start spraying over your curtains, furniture, and walls.
Wrapping up – Never Approach a Stray Cat
It’s surprising to learn that male cats can still spray, even after being neutered. However, unfixed cats tend to spray a lot more.
Female cats also mark their territory with urine, regardless of if spayed or not. In most cases of spraying around your home, male cats are probably to blame.
They do it to attract females and mark territory. Males are also far more territorial than females, and they tend to spray much more when looking for a mate.
If you have a female cat at home, males might visit your porch at night to mark it in an attempt to impress your feline.
If you catch a stray cat spraying, leave it alone. Some of these animals have very bad temperaments, and they may even attack you. Being scratched by a feral cat requires a trip to the emergency room to clean up your wounds.