There is a small feral cat that keeps coming into my backyard and attacking my 65lb dog. Our yard is fully fenced and we have a dog door, so our dog goes in and out as he pleases. I usually don't see the attack, but hear it (horrific yowling and crying by our dog--he's clearly afraid of it).

During the last cat encounter (we've had 6 or so), my dog hurt himself coming through the dog door as fast as he could. To make matters worse, now the cat seems interested in getting into the house through the dog door. I feel like I have to secure the house from this cat; I really worry about the cat somehow making it inside (through the dog door, a window, bolting through the door).

The cat is not afraid of people. I go out and shoo it with a broom, but it often comes right back.

This has been going on for months. No kitties in our yard and if s/he had rabies, s/he's be dead by now. I've tried (unsuccessfully) to trap the cat, but there isn't much that's humane I can do with it anyway; local shelters won't take feral cats. And trap/neuter/return wouldn't help my problem in this case.

  • 3
    Garden hose may help.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 28, 2018 at 22:17
  • @paparazzo: true - from personal experience, as a kid, trying to give our cats a bath, they will then keep 20-meter distance, once they feel the water. But as long as you are inside, the game is theirs and it will keep herself entertained by attacking a much larger dog. It would help if the dog stood his ground, but I know all too well from personal experience with my Husky how a quarter-pound micro-cat can force a giant Husky to squeal like a pig at a slaughterhouse...
    – 3D Coder
    Jul 1, 2020 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


Depending on how big your garden is, you can plant a flowery line of defence.

Coleus Canina (Plectranthus caninus), sometimes called the "piss-off flower", was bread for the sole purpose of keeping cats off your property. It's easy to grow, looks quite nice and spreads a strong smell if you touch its leaves. Only drawback is that you have to put it into a greenhouse during winter or buy new ones in spring.

Ruta graveolens, aka the common rue, also repels cats with its strong smell. You can even eat its young leaves as a salad if you fancy.

Helichrysum italicum, aka the curry herb plant, is said to irritate cats with its coarse texture and smell.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is also said to repel cats, but seems to be less sure-fire than the other ones listed above.

In addition to plant these plants on your property, you should keep some of them in pots to quickly move them to the points of penetration.

Please don't get any ideas about perfuming your dog with these smells. Dogs have very sensitive noses and are probably repelled just as much as cats, which is concerning.


There's a reason cat owners are urged to keep their pets indoors or in a secure, screened in area. Husband and I have four cats and have a sturdy screened in porch that the cats have access to as well as the humans. We never let our pets outside.

Cattery owners have put cat proof tops on their fences to let their cats roam outside but not escape from the fenced area.

You could start with keeping your dog indoors and accompanying him on walks so that he can "do his business." This will defuse the situation immediately while you find a better solution. Is there something in your yard that the cat wants? Do you put water out for the dog or food? Have you moved in recently? Perhaps the previous owners fed the cat and now he's coming back to his old home? Unfixed feral male cats can be quite territorial.

Best bet? Call and arrange for a vet that will fix and vaccinate this cat, often ASPCA or Humane Society have free spay and neuter. Borrow a trap from your local Humane Society and bait with tuna. Catch the cat and get him fixed. Release the cat near your house. This might be all it takes. If the cat returns your only options are to cat proof your yard, keep your dog indoors, or let your dog out only when supervised. I would suggest viewing youtube videos to see how others have cat proofed their yards. It might not have to be as secure and just a deterrent like hardware cloth attached to the top of the fence.


Find out if the cat is fixed. Feral cats have one ear trimmed, either left or right ear. It's easy to spot it if cat is relaxed. If the ear is trimmed, it is fixed.

Sometimes it is all a display show - the cat will lounge themselves into a yard with dogs. It makes noise and lets other cats that he/she is the boss. If people in this house maybe died or moved away, the cat will keep looking for the owner. Sometimes they are lonely and believe or not, they watch for dog behavior sometimes.

Try to find out if he wants your dog's food. I hope this helps.

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