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Learn How To Keep Cats Off Cars And Successfully Keep Them Away

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How to keep cats off cars and put a stop to dusty or dirty footprints or worse, scratches in the paintwork from claws or a torn soft top.

We do want to do this in a way that shows we are sane, care about the welfare of cats and doesn’t involve any shouting or waving arms around. Not a good look!

You may think about keeping your own cat indoors, but often it’s the neighbor’s cat or stray cats doing the damage to the car’s surface. It’s a problem!

Methods to Keep Cats Off Cars

You will be happy to know that there are solutions. Some are less intuitive than others, so read on to find the best methods to keep cats away from your car. If you are uncertain about the safety of a method or product, always get veterinary advice.

1. Cat Deterrent Sprays
2. Make Your Own Cat Repellent
3. Using Cayenne Pepper – Yes or No?
4. Using Mothballs
5. Motion-Activated Sprinklers
6. Ultrasonic (High-Pitched) Alarm System
7. Get A Car Cover
8. Get Rid of Food Scraps
9. Motion Sensor Light
10. The Power of Ammonia
11. Trim The Cat’s Nails
12. Where Is The Car Parked?
13. Talk to Your Neighbour About Their Cat
cats like sleeping on warm cars
This kitty is sound asleep!

How To Keep Cats Off The Car

Some of these products may be in your home and used for other purposes. Try making your own cat repellent. Others are specialized animal repellent devices and products. Below, we will discuss some of the most popular types of cat repellents. 

1. Cat Deterrent Sprays

There are many cat deterrent sprays.  Some are for indoor use or primarily for use on furniture.  

This spray whilst not designed particularly for paintwork on cars cars but can be used indoors and outdoors, has been successful with keeping cats away, using these modifications. It is safe for cats and kittens.

  1. Spray onto the bumper area of the car (do a test first) and also around the edges of the car, spraying onto the ground/road. Reapply as often as necessary, until the cat learns to stay away. This particular spray bottle has a sturdy large trigger spray that would make spraying around the car a quick job. I couldn’t imagine doing this with a product that has a small nozzle.  It would quickly become tedious.

  2. Do a test on a non conspicuous part of the car where there is paintwork, for example, under the bonnet. The product does not state that it can be sprayed directly onto the car, so this is something that you would do at your own risk. Remember also, that the heat from UV rays can have an adverse effect with any product that may be sprayed directly onto the car. 
  3. Another option is to spray small pieces of cloth with the product and leave the pieces of cloth on the car, e.g. under the wipers, on the roof or the bonnet secured with a small weighted object.  A little bit of organization and experimentation initially but then easy to implement and worth the success.
Four Paws Keep Off! Cat Repellent Spray Outdoors & Indoor 16 Ounces

2. Make Your Own Cat Repellent

If you’re a long-time cat owner, you know how picky cats can be with their food. They’re just as picky with smells, too, so some everyday household items can be used or mixed to make a potent feline repellent.

Cats typically don’t like the smell of citrus, so you can pick an orange or lemon, squeeze it, then add some lavender or peppermint essential oils along with dry herbs like rue, garlic, cayenne, pepper, rosemary, or thyme. Mix your solution with 2-3 times as much water, and you’ll have an excellent homemade feline repellent.

Some orange (citrus) cleaners are very strong. The scent would be a good deterrent. However, check before spraying near paintwork that it will not damage the finish on the car.

A word of caution using essential oils. Some can be toxic for cats. Best to play it safe with essential oils and cats.

3. Using Cayenne Pepper

Some people like to use Cayenne pepper or black pepper sprinkled on or near the car as a cat deterrent. Cats hate pepper. It is the capsaicin in the pepper that is an irritant to the cat. Depending on how much is ingested, it can irritate the mouth, stomach, and eyes. Pepper on the cat’s fur will be ingested when the cat is grooming.

It is not toxic and it is commonly used, but I am not a fan. The main reason I am not a fan is that there is no control over how much is used, and whilst a small sprinkle may suffice without causing distress, dumping a larger quantity is not desirable and would cause distress.

cat asleep on the car
Caught out kitty!

4. Using Mothballs

Maybe you have some mothballs lying around the house for pest control. If not, they’re a cheap way to deter cats who don’t like the smell. The mothballs I have linked to are already in individual packets.

For convenience, get a couple of small bags and put a handful of moth balls in each. Leave small openings (or holes) in the bags and place them around your car. Focus primarily on the feline’s hotspots. Do not use mothballs that are not in a protective bag or packet.

mothballs to keep cats away from cars
Make sure that mothballs are in small plastic bags with holes!

Have you ever had to give your cat a pill? Yet another situation where we need to outsmart the cat. There could be a lesson to lean here. This article explains how to give your cat a pill.

5. Motion-Activated Sprinklers

We all know water is the arch-nemesis of most cats. Perhaps this is what first came to mind when you were thinking of how to keep cats off cars. 

A motion-sensor sprinkler can get the job done nicely. This sprinkler won’t drench your driveway, spraying just enough, two to three cups of water, to keep the cats away. This motion-activated sprinkler is specifically designed to keep animals away. We are talking about keeping cats off cars, but this sprinkler will deter any animal that comes too close. If your car is parked in your driveway, this is an excellent solution.

Havahart 5277 Motion-Activated Animal Repellent & Sprinkler, 1 Pack,green

Don’t forget to turn it off before heading for your car. You don’t want to be keeping yourself away from the car (sorry – bad joke).

6. Ultrasonic (High-Pitched) Alarm System

An ultrasonic alarm uses sensors to detect motion, and if they do detect motion, they go off to spook any intruders. These alarms are designed to specifically keep animals away.

But don’t worry about the noise! Ultrasound systems produce a sound so high in pitch that it’s above the human hearing range, so the human ear will not detect the sound, but it is well within the range of many animals like cats.

PREDATORGUARD PestAway Outdoor Animal & Cat with Motion Sensor Stops Animals Destroying Your Gardens & Yard

Are your cats always escaping from the yard? It is a perennial problem. Like keeping cats off cars, there are some solutions.

7. get a Car Cover

A car cover is an obvious good solution. You can purchase a car cover, or if that is not an option, ask a family member if they have a tarp they are not using. A tarp can be used as a car cover. Throw the cover over the car when you’re home and don’t worry about paw prints or cat scratches on your car’s paint job. 

Car covers get bonus points for also protecting your car from dust and the weather in general. The downside is that putting on a car cover or a tarp is not something you may feel like doing at the end of the day.

cat on the hood of the car
You don’t want me here? Why?

8. Get Rid of Food Scraps

Maybe you dropped a sandwich wrapper in your car after eating. Do you have snacks lying around in the car or garage?

If that’s the case, the scents can easily attract cats to your car, so getting rid of food remnants can help alleviate the problem.

cat lying under the car
Not a good place to be kitty!

Even the most well-behaved cat may poop outside the litter box. This is not always an easy problem to solve, but there are many ideas you can try.

9. Motion Sensor Light

Install a motion sensor light if it is practical to do so. It not only beefs up your home security but may also scare away any cat that is sizing up the car hood as a desirable place to be, particularly if the hood is still warm.

Motion Sensor Light – Easy To Install!

10. The power of Ammonia

Cats hate the smell of ammonia. I can’t say I blame the cat in this instance. Mix up some ammonia with water and spray on the ground/paving/road around the circumference of the car. This will need to be repeated. It is a very cheap method to try.

Austin's 00051 Clear Ammonia Multipurpose Cleaner - 64 Ounce

11.Trim The Cat’s Nails

Cats are small beasts with wild claws. If they’re scratching your car, they might as well be tearing your furniture and scratching you too.

Many people trim their cats’ nails every week or two to prevent the damage they cause with their scratches. You can do the same. Note, however, that this solution won’t help you get rid of paw prints. 

Note: Trimming a cat’s nails is a very delicate process and if you feel anxious about doing it, talk with your vet who will be happy to help you.

trim cat's nails to avoid scratching paintwork

12. Where Is The Car Parked?

Parking your car in the street is often the only parking option. This makes suggestions like using a spray or motion activated sprinkler more difficult to put into action.

In this case, a suggestion would be to choose another parking location. If possible, choose a quieter location if possible and one where there is more shade. The hood of your car will still be warm. so have a car cover ready to be thrown over the car. If you are like me and often return to the car to get some forgotten item, the cover below has an option to open the driver’s door. Yay!

You may be further away from the car or office, however there are some positives here, the extra exercise is always a plus. A little extra time to destress on the way to the office or the way home is a good thing. Grab a coffee and enjoy the extra steps.

kayme Car Cover for Automobiles All Weather Waterproof with Lock and Zipper Door, Outdoor Cover Sun Uv Rain Protection, Fit Sedan (194 to 208 Inch) H4

12. Talk to Your Neighbour About their cat

If the cat in question sneaks in from your neighbor’s place, maybe consider talking with the neighbors about restricting the feline’s playground. Always err on the side of good neighborly relations. It is quite possible that the neighbor has no idea that their cat is causing havoc at night. It can be tricky to have these conversations as it is possible the neighbor will not take kindly to your suggestions.

Now you have a few ideas up your sleeve to protect your car and some thoughts about different methods and what might work for you to keep cats off cars.

Remember that you will need to be persistent with some of these methods.  Even if they work initially, you may think the problem is solved, and hopefully it will be.  However, be prepared to repeat your actions as drumroll-the cat may return!

The ideas in this article are for protecting your plants from a cat attack. They do include training the cat to keep away from plants. If you are willing to persevere, the same method could be used for your car.

how to keep cats off cars
The bonnet is so temptingly warm, dear. What if I wore socks to eliminate paw prints or claw marks?

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