Q: I keep a good portion of my property in a semi-wild, completely organic state to encourage song birds. I have several neighbors who allow their cats to roam free. These cats regularly visit my property to hunt, kill birds and use my yard and vegetable garden as a litter box. Do you have any advice to discourage the animals or encourage the neighbors to limit this?
A: This question always promotes a lot of emotions in my readers. I have found three solutions for deterring cats that may work fairly well. No. 1 is to sprinkle ground coffee right out of the can on the area where the cats hang out. They really do not like this smell, and even if it gets wet the coffee still works. Another trick: plastic “Scat Mat Strips” from gardening supply catalogs that are basically 6-inch wide plastic mats with little plastic spikes that stick up from them. You put them around the edges of your flower beds and some cats will stay out of the beds, as they do not like the way the spikes feel when they step on them.
The third and best device to keep cats away from an open area is called “The Scarecrow Garden Protector” by Contech Electronics. It is basically a sprinkler that you attach to a garden hose and position at the edge of an open area cats or raccoons frequent. The device has an electric eye and, when an animal crosses the field of vision, the sprinkler turns on and chases it off.
There is most likely nothing you can do about your neighbors. It is common knowledge these days that cats do not belong wandering about outside, both for the health of the cats and the benefit of the environment. It is up to the responsible people in the world to literally clean up the messes from those that are not, and that is the way it is.
Q: There is a male cardinal that is crashing into the windows of my living room every morning. He does it over and over again for an hour. I have a bird feeder outside that is always full. Is he trying to come in to get a different type of food?
A: At that moment of the day, the sun hits the windows in such a way that he sees his reflection and thinks it is another male cardinal and is fighting with it. Then, when the light shifts, the reflection goes away and he stops. If you put some cardboard on the outside of the window from the sill up about six inches, he will stop. The cardboard needs to be on the outside. If it is on the inside then he will still see the reflection.