Want to repel vampires? Fill transparent milk gallon containers with water and set them around the yard. The gallons also repel witches and cats, or so legend has it.
We aren't trying to repel anything, but one of our neighbors is. He objects to Sox and Callie, two orphan kittens my grandchildren saved from extinction last August from the wilds of Costa Rica after they were abandoned by their mother.
Once home in Redondo Beach, the two youngsters were allowed outside because we have a red Labrador, Fergie, who goes in and out a doggie door at will. Plus, the little ones were born and bred in the jungle.
Although we try to keep the cats inside as much as possible, they escape now and then and do what cats do to neighboring yards and gardens.
Since my daughter and grandchildren rejected the idea of converting Callie and Sox to indoor pets, I began researching possible remedies, both for us and our neighbor.
It was either find a solution, or risk a call from Animal Control. If animals are impounded, according to the Redondo Beach website, it means paying fees (beginning at $71 each) to retrieve the little darlings.
But when I contacted Redondo Beach Animal Control by phone, an officer (who asked to remain anonymous) said they never impound domestic cats.
"We put a band on the cat with our phone number and release it to go home," the officer said. When the owner calls, "we ask that they try to keep the cat inside to alleviate tension with the neighbor."
Even a cat that appears to be feral is thoroughly checked to make sure it isn’t domesticated, the officer said. If it is, "We never take them away."
Since cats are free to roam, the officer said, the neighbor has other alternatives. "Use a repellent, squirt them with water or chase them away. Never feed or trap them."
When getting calls about offending cats, the first question asked is if the individual knows the owner. "We suggest talking to them," the officer said. "Sometimes owners are not aware. If they know, they may be more responsible."
Not that our neighbors are likely to call Animal Control, but contact a local Chinese restaurant that features exotic fare—perhaps.
That's a grim thought—Callie and Sox served up with a side of soy sauce and hot mustard.
There happens to be a homemade use for mustard as a repellent, however. Mix two parts cayenne pepper, three parts dry mustard and five parts flour, then sprinkle it about the yard to keep cats away.
The recipe, along with a plethora of cat-proofing products, is available on the Internet. The problem? Cayenne pepper can burn an animal's eyes; so researching on the humane side of things is a necessity. Moth balls, for example, are toxic.
Most repellants sold in pet stores and reputable online sites are harmless to animals and people. I like shopping from the online sites because of the reviews.
One woman, who purchased a motion sensor sprinkler for $100, couldn’t say enough about the product. "The cats were gone in three days," she wrote.
Havahart offers Critter Ridder Spray Away along with a motion detector sprinkler for $60. Critter Ridder Animal Repellent Granule Shaker ($36.65) easily dispenses granules. It is safe, organic and harmless to pets and children.
At on Pacific Coast Highway, Lisa M. (company policy prohibits giving last names, she said) rated "Repel" over "Keep Off" for deterring cats from tiptoeing through your tulips.
Repel ($13.99), a granule, prevents cats from muddying lawns, driveways and sidewalks, Lisa said. It covers a total of 1,600 square feet and is to be repeated once a week until unwanted behavior stops, the label says. Customers who've used the product reported "very good results," Lisa said.
Keep Off ($13.99), an aerosol, was deemed better for inside use, she said.
From there, you can go crazy—if not broke.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a cat fence. In our case, it would have to be strung along the top of the fences separating us from all our neighbors' yards at a cost of hundreds of dollars.
An electronic device, Contech's CatStop, "deters cats by emitting a piercing ultrasonic tone when triggered by motion," according to the website, where the product is offered for $59.99, unless the sale price of $49.97 is still valid.
Only one problem: I doubt our neighbors are likely to fork over from $50 to $60 to keep our cats off their property.
I tend to suggest the Repel and Critter Ridder and something called Shake-Away (a natural repellant sold online for $14.95) and hope for the best.
Many say we should keep the cats indoors at all times, especially since their lifespan may increase threefold.
While I'm all for it, the rest of the family is not. Plus, with the way Callie and Sox look at me when they want to go outside, well, I'm putty in their paws.
As the saying goes, "Dogs have masters, cats have staff." Three guesses as to where I fit in.