Cats: Outdoor & Feral

Kitten looking out the top of a box.

It is not against the law for a cat to live outside in the City of San Antonio provided they are sterilized. ACS promotes Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for the humane management of our city’s community cats.

Solutions to Cat-Related Issues

Whether you love or loathe community cats, TNR is the answer to effectively reducing the number of these cats. TNR reduces most cat-related nuisances, poses no threat to public health and safety, and keeps rodent control in place. Even so, cats living in our communities sometimes cause disputes between neighbors. What many people don't realize is that these disputes can be resolved without resorting to legal means or, even worse, killing of the cats. As with most disputes, it is important to look at both sides of the issue.

  • Cat Caregiver Side: Most of the time, the cat caregiver did not create the stray cat problem. Rather, compassion toward animals prompted him/her to begin feeding hungry strays. Caregivers bond with the cats and value the cats' lives tremendously, even though the cats are often not approachable by humans and would not make good pets. They may not have heard of TNR and may not realize that resources are out there to help them get the cats fixed and resolve cat-related issues.
  • Complainant Side: The cats are creating a legitimate nuisance: eliminating in gardens, yowling at night, spraying smelly urine. They have not bonded with the cats and they value their property tremendously. Complainants may not have heard of TNR and may not realize that simply removing the cats will not solve the problem (the vacuum effect). They may not realize that resources are out there to help keep cats off their property. Community cat caregivers can alleviate most nuisance behaviors simply by spaying or neutering the cats. No more smelly male urine, no more late-night howling, no more kittens!

Top Cat-Deterrent Methods

Some people just don't want cats on their property. For these people, there are a number of humane cat-deterrent products they can try. Most of these products can be purchased online; lawn and garden supply stores may carry some of them.

  • Scatter fresh orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus also deter cats.
  • Artfully arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or wooden or plastic lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large, attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging. (They have the added benefit of deterring weeds.) You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart.
  • Establish a litter box by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Keep it clean and free of deposits.