There’s nothing quite as surprising as walking out the front door to discover a cat lounging on the roof of your car. While it’s adorable to watch this sunbathing in action, it tends to end with scratched paint or a dented roof, leading to costly vehicle damage. You may not have a garage or a tarp to shield your car from those pesky cats, so how do you keep cats off of vehicles?
To keep cats off cars, you can put cat repellent, mothballs, or cayenne pepper on or around your car. You can also install a pet alarm or automatic sprinkler near your driveway to scare cats away as they approach. As a last resort, think about parking your car elsewhere or using a car cover.
The good news is that you don’t have to settle for frequent trips to the shop to get your car detailed every time a cat uses your SUV as a bed. To learn how to keep cats off cars, read on!
Table of Contents
Surround the Car With Sprinkled Cayenne Pepper
If there’s one thing cats hate, it’s spicy food and ingredients, such as cayenne pepper. The capsaicin in cayenne peppers is what gives your salsa that “kick” and leaves a gentle burning sensation on your skin when it’s added to body creams. Cayenne pepper is an overwhelming scent to the overly-sensitive feline nose, and touching it with their paws feels uncomfortable.
However, pure cayenne pepper sprinkled around your car may cause serious gastrointestinal upset if a cat were to lick it off of her paws later. Instead, dilute the cayenne pepper by combining 16 parts water to 1 part cayenne pepper, mix it into a bottle, and spray it around the perimeter of your car. You may have to respray the driveway every few days to keep the scent.
Scatter Bags of Mothballs on the Hood, Roof, and Wheels
The smell of mothballs doesn’t only make you pinch your nose or hold your breath, but cats hate the scent too. However, mothballs can be toxic if a cat decides to eat one, precisely because of the massive amounts of poisonous insect repellent found in every mothball.
Instead of leaving loose mothballs on the hood of your car, place them in porous bags. Then, leave them in the wheel well, on the roof, beneath the car, and on the hood. A cat will be able to smell the mothballs when they hop onto your car to take a cat nap but won’t have direct access to a lone mothball that they can accidentally mistake for food.
Spray DIY Repellent Made of Garlic, Rosemary, Etc.
There are thousands of expensive cat repellents that you can buy online, but you can also make some effective concoctions with the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Mixing any of the following ingredients with water to create a spray will get cats scurrying away from your car:
- Apple cider vinegar
A few drops of citrusy essential oils mixed with water or a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water in a spray bottle may be all it takes. Douse your wheels, the perimeter of your car, and the undercarriage of your vehicle with the spray. And don’t forget to respray every few days to keep the scent strong.
Add a Motion-Activated Sprinkler Near the Driveway
Motion-activated sprinklers can keep cats away from your car for two reasons: cats hate the element of surprise, and most cats hate getting their fur wet. Figure out where the cats seem to be coming from and set-up the sprinkler within 40 feet of your car. When the cat gets too close, the motion sensor will catch the movement, and the sprinkler will drench the cat before it reaches the chance to jump onto your vehicle.
Just note that a motion-activated sprinkler only makes sense when the cats aren’t already on top of your car. If you turn the sprinkler on as a cat’s sunbathing on your hood, don’t be surprised when you see scratch marks in the paint from a cat desperate to flee.
Install an Ultrasonic Pet Alarm Near the Vehicle
The hearing range of cats far surpasses humans’, which is why cats can detect the ultrasonic vocalizations of mice and other rodents from across the yard. But a sudden high-pitched, ultrasonic sound in the dead of night is enough to get even the fiercest feral cats darting in the opposite direction.
Set up the alarm so that it’s facing your parked car. On your home’s roof or garage are both excellent positions. When a cat ventures over to her favorite lounging spot (your vehicle), the motion sensor will trigger the emission of a high-frequency sound. The cat will bolt away, it won’t awaken anyone in the neighborhood, and your car remains free of cats.
Park the Car in Another Lot Away From the Cats
If that neighborhood cat has been sleeping on your car for a while now, there are two possible explanations. The first is that the cat sees your vehicle as its territory after regularly depositing its scent on it. The second is it has become a habit.
For example, at 9 p.m. every night, the cat hops on your car for a nap. While inconvenient, you may want to consider parking your car in another spot or an entirely different parking lot. The cat will either find another car to lounge on or sleep elsewhere.
Drape a Cover Over the Car When Not in Use
If you don’t have a garage or a shed to park your car in, your next best bet is draping a cover atop your vehicle when you’re not driving it. Just position the car cover so that it covers all visible paint on your car, and if a cat decides to give it a try, at least the fabric will protect your vehicle from sharp kitty nails. However, a cover won’t discourage a persistent cat and isn’t a guaranteed cat-proof solution.
How to Keep Cats from Going Under Hood of Car
Cats seek shelter beneath the hood of a car because it’s warm and protects them from the rain, wind, and snow. But if you don’t bang on the hood before you hit the road, you could be putting an unsuspecting snoozing cat in danger, not to mention the damage the cat can be causing to your pricey engine or battery.
To keep cats from going under the hood of your car:
- Park your vehicle in a sealed garage or shed.
- Spray cat repellent on the interior of your hood.
- Block any entryways to your engine with aluminum foil.
- Put a comfy cat bed with a roof elsewhere on your property.
Be sure to bang on the hood or beep the horn before you turn on the car during the winter months, especially if there’s a known cat colony in the area.
Though it sounds unusual, cats find themselves stuck under a car’s hood quite often. Here’s a video of a couple discovering a cat under the hood of their vehicle and what it took to rescue it:
Keeping your cat off of your car may be easy. All you have to do is keep your cat inside or park the car in the garage away from view. But this feat is far more complicated when the invading cat is your neighbor’s or belongs to a local stray colony.
If that’s the case, you can talk to the cat’s owner about their feline’s behavior and recommend they cut their cat’s nails or alert animal control.
Now, it’s time to reclaim your car and keep it safe from the local cats.
- Wikipedia: Capsaicin
- VCA Hospitals: Mothball Toxicity in Cats
- Hearing Research: Hearing Range of the Domestic Cat
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.