BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Keep Cats Off Cars: Top 10 Solutions for a Clean and Damage-Free Car

A cat sitting on a taxi car
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

We all like giving our kitty the freedom they need. We build perches for them, we let them sit by the window, and some dedicated owners even install a cat door so their cat could go out whenever they want. But there is one common problem. How many times have you walked towards your car to head off to work only to find cat vomit or muddy paw prints on the car hood? I have experienced it myself, but not anymore ever since I managed to devise many effective yet non-harmful ways on how to keep cats off cars.

You may think that buying a car cover is the only solution you have, however, that’s pretty expensive. The good thing about a car cover is that it protects the car from kitty damage and the elements alike, but if you’re not willing to spend some $100 to buy a car cover, I’ve got plenty of tips for you that won’t cost much—if at all—yet are plenty effective. I’ve made sure that all these methods are perfectly humane, since our intention is not to hurt the cats, but just to keep them off the car so neither their claws nor their vomit will incur damage.

a cat yelling from a green car

I have personally consulted our in-house experts on effective ways to keep the cats off of the car. They gave me plenty of tricks to try, and I’ve attempted most if not all of them. I’ve rounded up ones that I found most effective in this article. But before we get to the tips and tricks, if you’re still wondering what all the fuss is about because you don’t see how a cute little cat napping on your car could be harmful at all, let me take a minute to explain why you should take this seriously.

Why You Shouldn’t Let Kitty Lounge on the Car

My kitty used to sneak out of the house to head to the parking lot. She often perched on the hood of the car. It’s her favorite spot because it’s warm and comfy—especially if the engine had just been cut off.

A cat sleeping on a car parked on a street

I used to love watching her nap on the roof of the car. It looked so peaceful, and the kids loved that too. Well, not anymore. I soon realized that letting her lounge on top of the car was a bad idea.

  • The first issue is that she leaves behind dusty paw prints. The situation is doubly annoying when it’s rainy because then there would be mud prints all over the car.

  • Sometimes she even scratches the paint.

  • While it’s rare for her to leave droppings and urine on the hood, I always told myself to be extra cautious because these contain acidic substances that can damage not only the paint but also the metallic surfaces.

What would happen if I am not around for a week or so and my cat or the neighbor’s cat spends all those days sitting on the hood and the roof of my car? It would be pretty damaging. Luckily, I’ve discovered ways to turn my car into a cat-free zone.

Ways to Keep Cats Off of Cars

It seems like there is nothing outdoor cats love more than basking in the sun on a car’s hood. While you might feel a pang of guilt at having to chase them away when they look so comfortable, this has to be done sooner or later. It might as well be sooner as you will then be able to plan ahead and learn some smart ways to keep them off of cars instead of shouting at them and stressing them out. If you have been asking yourself, “How do I keep those cats off of the hood?” then you may try one or several of the following ways:

Option #1: Remove Food Sources from Around the Car

Your cat may have found a perfect spot to sit on when hunting for birds or mice. She might even think that after catching her food, the best place to have it is on the hood. You can keep her off of the car by removing any food sources that may be around the car.

Cat walking over the bonnet of a car.

Try to clean up the driveway and your yard to ensure that your kitty and your neighbors’ cats will not be attracted to your parking lot. Make sure no food scraps are falling out of the trash since these will attract birds and mice. You can also get rid of mice and other critters by removing their hideouts, although this could be expensive since you may have to call in a professional pest controller.

Alternatively, you can try relocating your trash bin to another place away from the car. If your kitty still finds her way to the car’s top despite that, keeping the area clean and emptying the bins frequently may be the most effective solution. It will not attract the neighbors’ cats to your homestead, and your cat won’t sneak out so often in search of food.

Option #2: Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper

You can sprinkle cayenne pepper around the car; it’s known to repel cats. An important point to mention here is that you should make sure not to drop the pepper on the car’s hood.

cayenne-pepper-on a table

Cayenne pepper is also acidic in nature, just like your cat’s vomit. In a few days, you will see that the cats have started to avoid your car. If they get used to the smell and they come back, you can try another remedy.

Option #3: Use Ultrasound Pet Alarm

Pet alarms are widely available in stores. Ultrasound pet alarms are set off when the sensors detect motions, and they help scare off cats without harming them. It won’t cost you much—just around $30. You can then set it up on the car’s roof.

tabby-cat-on-the-lawn

Although, some people don’t like this method because they think the alarm detracts from their car’s aesthetics. In that case, try one of the other methods listed below.

Option #4: Spread Mothballs around the Car

You may want to put some mothballs in a bag and hang it near the car. Make sure you hang the mothballs somewhere your cat can’t get to them—just in case your cat is the type that tries to eat everything she finds—because mothballs can be poisonous.

Close-up of mothballs for pets

Mothballs have a strong scent that cats don’t like, so your cat will most probably keep away. However, you may also not like that scent, so try to see if you can cope with it or not. If you can’t, don’t worry because we’ve still got a few tricks up our sleeve.

Option #5: Install a Motion-Controlled Sprinkler

There are motion-controlled sprinklers that are designed to deter stray pets. What you need to do is hook up one around your house while pointing it at the car. When it detects motion, the sprinkler will spray a water arc that will scare off cats.

Image showing Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler

However, the same motion-controlled sprinkler may not spare you. You could get wet if you forgot to avoid walking around or in front of the sprinkler. Also, it is likely to wet the car as well, so ensure that you have rolled up the windows beforehand if you decide to try this method.

Option #6: Use a Cat-Repellent Spray

You can scare off cats by using all-natural sprays. Citrus-scented sprays are usually the most effective since cats hate the smell of citrus yet it smells good to us. Try spraying the repellent on the ground around the car.

 Cat-Repellent products

If despite that you find that the cats continue to sit on your car, you can spray the repellent directly on top of the car at least every night before going to bed. This shouldn’t cause any damage to the paint as long as you remember to wipe it clean in the morning.

Option #7: Use Cat-Repelling Powder

Another thing you may want to consider is using a cat repelling powder, it’s inexpensive and won’t put a dent in your pocket. Ensure you use only organic and chemical-free repelling powders that are safe for children, household pets, and plants. The downside is that the powder can be easily blown off by the wind or washed away by the rain.

Option #8: Use Dry Herb Repellents

Not many people know that dry herbs like lavender, rosemary, or rue can repel cats. You can sprinkle these around the car, paying special attention to the locations where the cats like to sit. If your cat is the type that tries to eat everything in sight, to prevent her from getting a stomachache, make a bag of potpourri out of the herbs and place it on the roof of the car.

Image showing herbal-repellents

Try to experiment with different herbs to see what works better, but make sure you start with smaller amounts and increase the quantity if the cats are still gathering on your car. Herbs are inexpensive and very easy to use, but again, they can be blown off by the wind. So check the weather and use the herbs when the wind is still.

Option #9: Use a Vinyl Mat

Take a vinyl mat from under the car seat and place it on the hood with the bumpy side facing up. Because the mat has tiny spikes, when your cat lands on it, she won’t like the sensation and will learn to stay away from the car. The spikes aren’t harmful, so no need to worry about them hurting your cat. A bigger-sized mat can be cut into different pieces—one for the roof and another for the hood.

Option #10: Ask Cat Owners to Keep Their Cat Indoor

While not all your neighbors may be willing to lock their cat in their houses, if there are stubborn neighborhood cats that won’t leave your car alone no matter what, you can talk to the owner and make them understand your plight.

ORANGE TABBY CAT ON CAR

Try to be polite as you explain the situation. If you are calm, they will probably understand and may be willing to help you. Even if they are not willing to lock their cat inside the house, they could collaborate with you to come up with better ways to keep their cat off your car.

Wrap Up

It’s annoying to wake up every morning and find that cats have spent the better part of their night sitting on the hood of your car. You may be tempted to pull your hair out in frustration when you realize that there is a trail of urine and fecal matter on the hood and the roof is spotted with muddy paw prints everywhere.

While there are many ways that can help keep those cats off of your car, you will want to consider which one would work best for you. Some may not be very effective or perhaps can even be considered inhumane. Declawing the cat is one of those inhumane methods you should never resort to.

Two cats sitting on a blue car

Sure, it will solve the claw marks issue, but declawing for a cat is akin to the removal of fingers up to the knuckles for a human. You wouldn’t wish that upon your worst enemy, would you? Try coming up with better solutions. Consult your neighbors if it’s their cat that’s causing you trouble. If you are using cat repellent products, make sure that they are safe for the felines and other pets around the neighborhood. You don’t want to be accused of poisoning your neighbor’s cat—it could turn into a legal case.

Also, don’t try violent ways like chasing them around or hitting them with objects. Even if that works, you will not be around the car every time. The cats may come back for revenge at night when you are asleep. You may want to switch between different ways to keep the cat off of the car while ensuring that you don’t use harmful products. If you can afford a car cover, that can work out pretty well. Just make sure you put it up every evening. It won’t keep the cats off of the car, but it will protect the paint from damage.

Orange tabby cat lying on a cars roof

Whose cat is it that keeps climbing on top of your car? Yours? Your neighbor’s? If it’s yours, the solution might be as simple as keeping them indoors, but if you believe your cat deserves to go outdoors, what countermeasure have you devised to keep them off of your car? Will you use one of the methods we’ve suggested above or do you have another idea? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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