How do I keep stray cats from spraying my house?

Cat Spraying No More

catspray, cat

Q. We have several outdoor male strays who like to use our patio door/screen and house siding as a urine marking spot. I’ve tried spraying white vinegar in these areas but they keep coming back. It’s getting to be a big problem. We have indoor cats all spayed/neutered with no issues. It’s the outdoor ones causing the headache. We love seeing them, just not the peeing on the house. Any advice?

Marlo – Elizabethville

A. Your problem will get far worse if these cats aren’t neutered.

We’re in the heart of kitten season, with unfixed strays proliferating at an alarming rate.

Help is just a phone call away. A wonderful organization known as “Angelpets”, located in nearby Dauphin, wants to help. They will loan traps, counsel you through the process, and direct you to free spay/neuter services.

I spoke with them after receiving your note. Not only was the reception incredibly prompt and pleasant, the volunteer asked that I publish their phone number and website


. Please call Linda Corson at (717)921-2117.

White vinegar is one of many repellants, few of which will discourage testosterone-fueled tomcats looking for girlfriends. Other short-term solutions include scattering orange and lemon peels or spraying with citrus-scented fragrances, spreading coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, oil of lavender, citronella or eucalyptus.

Or you can place plastic carpet runners, spike side up, near the areas they soil and embed them in the soil of your garden. Planting or sprinkling the herb rue will also deter some cats.

Bear in mind repellants are temporary fixes. The long-term solution is being proactive in capturing and altering. And it won’t cost you anything. Organizations such as Angelpets are stretched for manpower and unable to send volunteers out to capture strays. If you could just devote some time to the project the stinky spraying will stop.

Corson explained how the trapping process has improved the past few years. A lightweight “drop trap” has been developed for more experienced strays leery of the typical Hav-a-Hart trap. It’s just as humane, but is elevated so kitty is more likely to return to his or her normal dining spot without having to step onto wire.

All you need to is keep watch during feeding time and pull a string attached to a pole as kitty starts eating.

Coordinate the time with Angelpets so the cat can be transported to a participating spay/neuter veterinarian asap.

The real secret to capturing spooky felines involves a regular feeding schedule and spot. Most well intentioned people leave food out all day. This complicates trapping. Kittens are easy to catch, but savvy moms, grandmas and Tom’s can be a challenge. Food should be left out for just 30-minutes at the same time and spot every day.

Corson makes an excellent point by saying, “So it takes us four hours to build a drop trap. That’s better than putting 1,000 hours into all the litters these unfixed cats produce.”

Nearly all neutered tomcats cease spraying right after surgery. And the good news? Your feline friends will be returned to the original colony (meaning in your neighborhood) so you’ll still be able to see them.

Additionally, if any of these strays are friendly, they’ll have a chance of being adopted into a loving home. Please take the time to at least chat with the folks at Angelpets. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the kind support they offer.

For additional information on managing stray and feral cats in neighborhoods and nearby affiliates log onto Alley Cat Allies at

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