How to Keep Cats off Cars
Some vehicle owners complain about cats on their car, either their own cats, neighbors cats, or stray cats. Perhaps they fear the cat will scratch the paint, or they just do not like the footprints, in any case, what is the car owner to do?
Why do cats Cats go on Cars
Cats like to go on top of the car for a few reasons; they enjoy being high up and, if the car was just running, they like the warmth of the engine. Rest assured it is very unlikely that the cat's nails will scratch the paint of a car. Cats can retract their nails and would do so to scale a car. Their nails are very ineffective in climbing a metal surface, and actually make it more difficult. Their paw pads are better for climbing.
Cats in Cars
Be aware that sometimes cats, particularly small kittens, might climb up under the car. If you live in an area populated by a lot of stray cats it is suggested to pound the hood of your car to scare them before starting the engine. If you hear meowing sounds you may want to check the engine, or under the car.
Keeping Cats off Cars
The first thing to do is to call and find out the local bylaws in the area regarding cats. You may find that it is not legal for cats to be outside off their owners property (this is more common in urban areas in Canada, and the USA, it is not so common in the UK). If you find that there are laws restricting owners allowing their cats to be loose you have several options:
Catch the cats and take them to the local animal shelter – their owner would have to pay a fee to recover the cats. The concern being that the cat is being punished because it has a bad owner, and may be euthanized if the owner does not come for it.
Talk to your neighbors about taking care of their cats, suggest they keep their cats indoors, or build a cat enclosure.
Other things you can do are to squirt the cats with water every time you see them on your car. As soon as the cat is off your car, stop squirting it or it will not associate being squirted with water with being on your car. You cannot squirt water on the cat to send it running into traffic; if this causes an accident you could be charged.
You can buy a cover for your car, thus protecting it from the cats.
There are several spray products that a person can buy to deter cats, however they will only last a couple of days before you need to reapply, and they will wash off in the rain. These products are usually sold at pet supply centers, try to select products made to keep cats out of gardens rather than those made for the indoors.
If the problem is your own cat, you can keep your cat indoors, or build it a cat enclosure for when it goes outside, thus keeping it away from your vehicle.
Author note: I live rurally and have several farm cats that often sit on my car, the worst that has ever happened is a few muddy paw prints. My car is still fine to drive. I think it is important not to overreact over the situation. Keep in mind that the cat is only doing what comes naturally, it is not fair to punish the cat, instead you need to deal with the cat owners if you really find this a problem.