By Rachele Baker, DVM – Question: Erin says she is having a problem with her neighbor’s cat running into her garage every time she opens the garage door. Sometimes the cat gets trapped in her garage all night. Erin wants to know how she can keep her neighbor’s cat out of her garage short of never opening the garage door?
Answer: Hi Erin. I understand how frustrated you must be with this situation. Is your neighbor’s cat always outdoors? Or is the cat indoors some of the time? Does your neighbor provide his cat with a place to get out of the sun (such as his own garage or a pet door into his house)? It is important to try to figure out why your neighbor’s cat is trying to get into your garage and also to solicit the help of your neighbor in resolving this issue.
Is there any pet food, water, or other attractive item such as catnip in your garage? If so, you will need to remove those items.
Where does your neighbor’s cat go in your garage? Has he established a bed in your garage? If so, you will need to remove the item that he considers to be his bed.
Has the cat brought dead mice or birds into your garage? If so, you will need to remove them.
Do you have mice in your garage that the cat may be hunting? If you have a mouse problem, you will need to resolve that problem in order to remove the attraction for your neighbor’s cat.
If the cat has urinated or defecated in your garage after having been inadvertently locked in your garage overnight, you will need to clean those areas with products specifically made to remove cat urine odor so that the cat does not think that those are areas to return to when he wants to urinate or defecate.
I would suggest that you talk to your neighbor about this and explain the problem. Find out if your neighbor can do anything to help to resolve the problem such as keeping his cat indoors or by allowing his cat access to his garage (if he is not already doing so). If his cat lives indoors part of the time, find out if your neighbor would be willing to keep his cat indoors during the times that you regularly go to work and return at night. That would at least eliminate some of the opportunities for the cat to run into your garage.
After addressing all of the above, if the cat continues to run into your garage every time you open the garage door, then I would suggest that any time the cat runs into your garage, that you calmly remove him and then close the garage door. Hopefully, with time the cat will get the idea that he is not going to be allowed in your garage and he will find other places of interest.