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A year ago, my cat had broken her leg (two compound fractures) after she fell off the balcony (7 stories). Miraculously she survived and lived two months with a bandage. Me and my girlfriend were thrilled. We found out that most likely she fell off the balcony because of crow birds who always try to tease her and fly just near her to make her jump and then fall. This behaviour of these smart birds is known among people who I asked. Now my cat is three times as big as she was and relatively heavy and I do not think she is going to survive if she falls again.

I've observed several times those crow birds flying around her and she is trying to catch them. I tried several things to stop her from going to the balcony edge (1 meter wall, and she climbs on the top of it). I tried to put some plants (e.g. mint) that might keep her away. I tried corporal punishment. I tried to make sounds that does not like. Mistakenly, I thought I stopped her from going there, until I discovered that she just stopped in front of me and she goes there every night when I go to bed. Last time I locked her up in one room with all her stuff all the night. I felt so guilty about it and I do not know what to do. I cannot close the balcony doors, it too warm year-round here. She loves to stay in the balcony, it's quite spacious (area of 4 x 6 m) and it's the only outdoor place she gets to. I just do not want her to climb the balcony screen, and I cannot keep watching her 24/7.

7

There are few answer here suggesting scents, oils, or other additives that you can apply to discourage your cat from an area.

If you decide to attempt to use an additive to discourage any animal from a behavior, test it in a small area first.

True Life Example Scenario: Generally rabbits can be trained not to chew on things through training (clap your hands and say no when the behavior occurs). A person in our local rabbit community, decided to use an additive (bitter apple spray) to discourage her bunny from chewing on baseboards, says right there on the package that it works great! She went around and spayed all the baseboards with bitter apple and then gave the rabbit run of the house. Turns out her rabbit LOVES bitter apple spray, so now her rabbit had candy coated baseboards... So after scrubbing all the baseboards it was time for a new plan.

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There's a few things that will work for cats, though you'll have to try them to see what works on her.

  1. Tinfoil - the look of the light reflections when they step on it scare them. Try putting it around the area she goes when she starts to jump. Putting it on top might cause her to jump up, then launch off in fear, and you can't dictate which direction that will be.

  2. Chicken wire - they refuse to step on it, likely because it not only feels strange on their paws but also for the same reason as the tinfoil.

  3. An owl or other fake bird - clearly not for the cat. The intent is to keep the teasing birds away.

  4. Citrus scents - as Dan Herbert said, cut up a lemon, or even put lemon or lime juice on your balcony before bed. They dislike the scent of citrus.

  5. Coffee grinds - same reason as number 4.

  6. I put a large board up so the cat couldn't see where it was jumping too. This is extremely annoying for you, however, and likely won't definitively stop your cat from trying.

  7. Predator urine or cat pheromones - for obvious reasons. This will require respraying as needed.

I read up on this before, many people have many ideas, but I had the best luck with tinfoil covered in chicken wire. It was so effective, in fact, that a neighbourhood cat no longer comes on the top of the fence that we put it on.

Once you see your cat go near whatever you put down, then change their mind and not go on it, praise your cat. Positive reinforcement is much better than negative.

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The best solution is to enclose the entire balcony in pet safe wire so that the cat will not be able to fall out. This 'catio' can be a pleasant place for everyone rather than a cause of strife.

There are many web sites with ideas of how to make one.

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Any kind of yelling or punishment generally doesn't work on cats. They aren't able to understand why they're being punished and are more likely to think you're just being mean. Generally, any kind of intervention that requires your presence teaches the cat to just avoid it when you're around. Not to avoid it completely.

For your specific situation, something like a SSSCat would be more effective. It's a motion sensitive air can that releases a puff of air any time your cat goes to an area she shouldn't be.

It's completely harmless, but it scares the cat well enough to teach her it's not a place she should be going. And since you don't need to be around for it to work, she more easily learns to associate the behavior (going onto the balcony) with the consequences (a puff of air). You could put it in the doorway so it goes off any time she tries to step onto the balcony. Depending on how wide your door opens you may need one for either side of the door.


For more temporary risky areas (like cleaning chemicals, paints, etc) I've also had success with keeping my cat away by slicing up a lemon, but that is only a temporary solution (stops working once the lemons dry out and lose their scent) and not likely to be effective if she's too focused on hunting down birds. I keep a bag of the cheapest lemons I can find in my fridge for any time I need to keep my cat away from something temporarily.

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The thing they hate in citrus is the oil (which has the smell). You don't need to cut up the citrus, all you need to do is use the peel. The peel has lots of oil, the pulp relatively little. Unfortunately the dislike of citrus is very individual, some cats REALLY hate it, others aren't bothered by it nearly as much.

Smash the peel against surfaces you wish your cat to stay away from (like around the door...). However, I think that will mean your cat will simply not pause at the doorway but quickly move to the balcony.

Can you put a screen on the door so you can open it but keep the cat in?

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You might try making a bunch of small loops of cellotape (some people call this "scotch tape" or just "tape") and scattering them on top of the unsafe places. Cats hate getting anything stuck in their fur, and will be wary of any place they think this might happen. However, you should be there for the first time or two that they get stuck, so that you can remove the cellotape.

Since the cellotape can really upset the cat, and may be uncomfortable for them to have it removed, I don't recommend this as a general "cat-proofing" strategy. However, in this case the alternative (falling off the balcony) is far worse, so I think this technique is justified.

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I found that "acts of God" can discourage and even teach cats from doing certain things (e.g. play with the curtains, climb on the kitchen counter etc.) An "act of God" is something that will frighten/annoy your cat without coming obviously from you but rather as a result of his own actions. Examples include:

  • stacking empty soda cans to a place your cat wants to jump. When they noisily collapse he will designate that area as "dangerous" on his own.
  • stay hidden and use a water pistol in the "critical moment"
  • again staying hidden, noisily, throw a magazine near but NOT ON the cat
  • the motion sensitive air can mentioned by @Dan Herbert

Concerning the smells that can discourage your cat, you can also try eucalyptus oils (easily available in cold balms.) I put some balm on cables to discourage my cat from biting them, haven't tested this on big surfaces though.

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