Red cat stretching on a red car

How to Keep Cats Off Your Car (14 Easy Ways)

It goes without saying that cars can be expensive, and thus you want to keep them in good working order to avoid the costs associated with repairs. However, most car owners also want to keep their cars’ finishes looking great, bereft of scratches and dings in the paint. This is why many auto owners want to keep cats off their cars.

Cats climbing onto cars is a much more common problem than you may think. While there may not be any universities out there compiling studies to quantify the numbers, the fact is that many automobile owners have to deal with scratches and other damages accrued via cats walking on their cars.

We’ve all seen stray cats strutting up and down the block at night. Well, when you’re indoors, these cats love to climb around, looking for food and playing with other cats. Far too often, they like to use your car as their own personal playground.

You can definitely get this to stop!

Here are some great tips and tricks you can use to keep cats from crawling all over your automobile.

Tips to Keep Cats Off Your Car

White cat on a blue car

#1. Use a Cover

Car covers are typically inexpensive, and while they won’t keep the cats off the car, they will keep your car from taking any damage from the cats’ claws. They also provide other benefits, like keeping your car free of bird droppings, and fallen leaves and other debris, and even sun damage.

This, of course, is much more of a protective measure than a preventative one, though it would be entirely remiss not to mention this very simple solution to protect you from damage. Most car covers are very affordable and easy to use.

A good car cover will keep you automobile fully protected from the negative effects of cats wondering around on it at night.

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#2. Utilize Your Garage

This tip only applies to people who have a garage. Though you may be surprised to learn, however, most people who have garages use them for things like tools, storage, and pool tables, not actually for keeping their cars inside.

You might want to relocate those boxes to the basement or nix the idea of that barroom-style billiards table, and instead park your car in the garage at night. As long as the door remains shuts, cats are not going to wander in there and get on the car.

Like the cover, this also helps protect your car’s paint and surface from other damages that may arise from keeping it outside.

#3. Buy Some Cat Repellent

There are a ton of different options out there when it comes to cat repellent. Like we told you, this is a much bigger problem for automobile owners than you may realize. Millions of people deal with cats (and sometimes other animals) crawling all over their cars and messing up the paint with scratches.

You have repellents that come in spray bottles, in powder form, in washes, in oils, and more. Just make sure that you’re using these products per the manufacturer’s suggestions so that you don’t get anyone or anything sick. You’re not looking to harm anything here; you just want those cats to scram!

Your average bottle of cat repellent, be it granules, powder or spray, comes in at under twenty bucks, so it’s well worth the investment, as a few pounds of this stuff can last you for a very long time.

#4. A Mixture of Herbs Can Help

You can also go the do-it-yourself route and create a mixture of potent herbs to spray on your car. While this will cause no harm to your paint, the pungent aroma of the herbs will scare the cat away. For this method, you’ll simply need an empty spray bottle and some herbs. Mix them with water.

You can use a wide range of herbs in your bottle mixture, including:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Orange peel/zest
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic
  • And more

Basically, you’re looking for herbs and aromatics that have a strong, pungent aroma. Cats will run the other way when they smell these items.

#5. Sound Devices Work Well

Cute cat on a car

Over the past few years, ultrasonic animal repellent devices have been used for everything from scaring mice out of the home to stopping dogs from barking in the yard. They’re affordable, easy to set up, and they work by emitting an ultrasonic pulse in a pitch so high that only animals can hear it.

When cats walk into range of one of these devices, they cannot stand how it sounds and thus will turn the other way. All the while, you and the people in your home won’t be able to hear what’s going on. These devices are 100% inaudible to the human ear.

There are a variety of sizes and shapes from which you can choose with these devices. You can pick up smaller ones that are housed on ground stakes, and you can push it in right beside your driveway to keep the cats away.

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#6. Got Any Cayenne Pepper?

A lot of you who have cat problems may already have cayenne pepper in the home to cook with. This is a very strong spice that cats won’t dare come near. A little bit of this in their nose, and you’ll likely never see the cat on your property again.

You won’t have to risk your paint by putting this stuff on your car either. Simply go spend a buck or two for a discount bottle of this spice, remove the lid, and walk around the car while sprinkling it on the ground. This will definitely keep the cats away.

Just remember: this is only going to be an effective method while the pepper’s on the ground. Winds and rain will wash or blow it all away, and so you will need to repeat this process every few nights to make sure there’s still pepper on the ground.

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#7. Mothballs Can Work

Mothballs have been working for decades to keep the moths away from people’s clothing items hanging in their closets. What happens with these items is that the balls, which are made out of solid chemicals, start to dissolve and release gas. The gas repels moths, and will also work for repelling cats.

The same gas that drives moths away will keep cats away as well. Those small felines want nothing at all to do with that pungent gas. The only issue here will be in keeping those mothballs in place.

If you feel like taking the time, a great way to keep the mothballs around is to put them on toothpicks and then arrange them in a circle around your car. You won’t need a solid circle of mothballs. About one every two feet or so should suffice to keep cats away.

#8. Invest in a Car Alarm

Grey cat sitting on a grey car

A car alarm is an ideal solution. Cats touch your car, the alarm goes off, and they take off running from the noise, exactly how a car thief would, theoretically. Of course, unlike the ultrasonic option, the rub here is that you can also hear this noise. It could go off all night and keep waking you up.

There are sensitivity levels you can tweak on a car alarm to make sure it’s not being set off by the slightest touch. Then again, cats are light, and if it’s so sensitive to where a cat would set it off, then the wind blowing hard might also result in the same.

So this option all depends on how you’re able to handle the noise. If it’s not a big deal to push the button every now and again to reset the alarm, it’s a fantastic way to keep cats away from your car.

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#9. Use Pungent Liquids

This is a similar solution to the aromatic herb spray mixture, but it’s also the exact same principle at work here. If you took a pungent liquid, like bleach or ammonia, or some pine floor cleaner, you could keep cats well away by pouring this liquid in a circle around your automobile.

However, as with the cayenne pepper, the elements are going to quickly get rid of this stuff. So, in reality, this is something you would have to do every night or two. The upside here is that you can buy a bottle of cheap ammonia for a dollar at any dollar store, so it’s not an expensive method at all.

Just remember that you don’t want to start pouring this stuff on your grass or in your flowers or anything you want to save. It’s only a good method if you use it in your driveway, for instance.

#10. Motion Lights Are Effective

Cats are very skittish, even more so than other animals. They’re wandering out there at night, without people, and typically is the case that the slightest noise, smell or motion makes them scatter. A motion light can also have this same effect on them.

If the cat’s getting too close to your and that bright light suddenly clicks on, the cat’s going to scram over to a neighbor’s yard somewhere, not mess with your car. The added benefits here are that you get some increased security for your car and home from potential burglars and thieves.

Motion lights are typically inexpensive and easy to install. Just make sure you keep them pointed at the car and not at your neighbor’s house.

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#11. Clean Up Around Your Car

Cat near a white car

Believe it or not, nine times out of ten, cats are lurking around your home because there’s some sort of food there. If you’ve ever heard that old adage about never feeding a stray cat because you won’t be able to get rid of them, it’s very true. They’ll keep coming back if there’s food.

Maybe you don’t even realize it, but there could be some garbage out there, food wrappers in the driveway, or food actually inside of your car that they can smell. So take an hour or two when you get the time and go out there and thoroughly clean in and around your car.

This step by itself usually isn’t going to act as a full deterrent against cats climbing onto your car, but it will help, especially when combined with other methods that you learn about from this piece.

#12. Speak to the Cats’ Owners

A lot of time, cats that jump onto your car are stray cats, just neighborhood cats that no one owns. However, there’s also the possibility that someone owns the cat that’s climbing onto your car, and they’re just letting the cat out at night. This is when speaking to the owners can help.

Most owners are going to listen if only because they’re liable for any damages the cat causes, in the same way dog owners are liable if their dog bites someone. So most pet owners will want to do the responsible thing and stop their cat from wandering onto your car.

It’s definitely a big help, if you can find the owner. If not, look no farther than the next tip.

#13. Call the Local Animal Control

Almost every town, county and/or city will have some sort of animal control; usually as a specialized branch of local law enforcement. It’s not as if they’re going to show up instantly and hunt down the cat. But if you report that cats are wandering around as strays, they will get there and try to capture them.

Your tax dollars are already paying for this service, typically through property taxes, so there will be no fee involved in having animal control come out to handle the cats for you. Just make sure you stress the seriousness of the situation, so that you’re not ignored.

The best part about this method is that if they do manage to catch the cat(s), then it’s a permanent solution that won’t cost you a penny, and you won’t have to enact any sort of labor to keep the cat off your car.

#14. Train the Cat

The reason this tip is last is because it’s only going to work if it’s your own cat getting onto your car. This isn’t that uncommon. Many cat owners let their cats out for the night, and many of these cats will climb onto the car, either for normal reasons like food or play, or even because they smell your scent.

Cats can be trained pretty well to be obedient. Maybe not quite as well as dogs, but they can certainly learn not to climb atop your car. They can be trained to avoid this, which is great too because it also keeps them from climbing onto anyone else’s car, which would leave you liable for any damages.

If it’s your cat who’s acting as the culprit, this is definitely a solution you may want to entertain.

In Summation

There are all sorts of ways by which you can keep those pesky cats off of your car. All of the tips above are easy to implement, and most are very affordable. Some are even free of charge. With tips like these, there’s no reason to ever have to deal with cats on your car again.

Product data was last updated on 2023-02-03.

"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett

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