Need remote controlled, not motion sensor, animal deterrent

I have two barn cats.  One is stupid and can’t comprehend when I moved the cat food up onto a shelf, so it needs to stay on the floor.  Unfortunately an opossum had figured out where to get a free meal.  The opossum can’t get up onto the shelf, but Kitten (her name, she’s not actually a kitten) just doesn’t seem to understand when I move the food dish

In the beginning barking and growling at the opossum through the camera worked, but the opossum has quickly called my bluff.  This pig is eating all the cat food.  I need something remote controlled, not motion sensors, so I don’t chase off my barn cats but can keep the stupid opossum from eating $20 worth of Blue Buffalo in one night.  Seriously, this guy packs it away.  And it needs to be compatible with a smartphone so that I can activate it when  I’m away from home.  We do have wifi in the barn


Only one of these is a cat 


Squirt gun? Works for critters others than kitty?

Or a bright light that flashes once (like a photographer’s)? 

Record a short dramatic reading and get the player to playback loudly, at random, for 20 secs with a burst of light? (It’ll sound different most times so Possum will be surprised for a while) @marksierra or another cluey electronic mate can help rig it up... (Because Kitten knows your voice, I’m assuming she’s less likely to bolt, plus you don’t need to activate it for her)


joanne said:

Squirt gun? Works for critters others than kitty?

Or a bright light that flashes once (like a photographer’s)? 

Record a short dramatic reading and get the player to playback loudly, at random, for 20 secs with a burst of light? (It’ll sound different most times so Possum will be surprised for a while) @marksierra or another cluey electronic mate can help rig it up... (Because Kitten knows your voice, I’m assuming she’s less likely to bolt, plus you don’t need to activate it for her)

 I’ve tried growling and barking through the speaker of the camera. It worked the first two times, but now he knows nothing else will happen 

A squirt gun would be great, it just needs to work on wifi so I can purposely set it off when I see the food thief and not when Kitten or Chunky Boi are around 


Sounds like a job for Wile E.


Leave the food up on the shelf. Eventually the cat will figure out the routine. And my question is why are you putting out $20 worth of cat food? For barn cats? 
there’s no gadgets to repel the possum. 


Jaytee said:

Leave the food up on the shelf. Eventually the cat will figure out the routine. And my question is why are you putting out $20 worth of cat food? For barn cats? 
there’s no gadgets to repel the possum. 

 ditto. cat can't be that dumb. cats gotta eat.


They’re not disposable just because they live in the barn.  My dog and house cat both get good food.  I purposely acquired Kitten from another home, so she is also my responsibility.  

Chunky Boi is a true feral, he showed up out of the blue.  We’re currently  working on trying to trap him to have him neutered.  I tried moving the food up onto the shelf and it took Chunky Boi all of 30 seconds to figure it out.  If I wasn’t feeding him he would be able to provide for himself, no question.  


Kitten, on the other hand, is only semi-feral.  She was born in a home and was raised with humans, but unlike the rest of the litter she never learned to trust them.  Her human caretaker could no longer care for her due to unfortunate circumstances.  I agreed to take over and we moved her out here.  She is 100% dependent on humans for survival and has zero survival skills, but at the same time she is terrified of people and is not comfortable being inside a house.  She came in the barn three different times when I moved the food and got confused after looking around for a few minutes and then left.  As her caretaker, especially one who brought her here from another location, it is my responsibility to provide her with care and quality food.  Waiting for her to figure out the food situation, especially with the temperatures dropping, is not a good idea.


I don't know what is the distance, but maybe one of those goofy Halloween animated decorations in combination with a remote controlled power switch. They sell them at Home Depot and Lowes for Christmas lights. I've used them for lights up to 30-40 feet away.

I would think a shrieking skeleton or cackling with or creepy clown jack-in-the-box might do the trick.

The gravel catapult didn't work out i guess?


Are possums frightened of owls? I have had success in keeping a destructive woodpecker away by mounting two plastic owls on window sills. They have little solar cells on them, and I think the eyes may glow at night. ( I guess you may need noise more than you need a visual.) Either way, I really don’t understand that you’re not formally blogging or at the very least perusing a contract for a reality show. Your life is way more interesting than that of 99.9 percent of the rest of the population, and I thank you for sharing your stories with a confirmed suburbanite like me!!


I vaguely remember the gravel catapult suggestion, was that when I asked about the skunks digging up my yard?  That might work if it’s remote controlled and not motion sensored.  I did a quick search on MOL and can’t find the original suggestion, do you remember who made it?

Summer before last we had a feral hanging around that we didn’t realize was a feral.  We also had zero mice issues in engines.  I assumed she was a neighborhood cat.  Then one day this past spring I found her in the middle of pushing out kittens.  When the kittens were a few days old animal control took her and the kittens.  They kittens were handled daily while momma cat was still nursing them.  Once they were weaned they were adopted out as house cats since they were properly socialized.  Momma cat, even after living in close contact with humans inside for eight weeks was still terrified, so animal control said she was a true feral.  I paid for her to be spayed, vaccinated, and returned.  She apparently remembered being caught in a trap in my barn, and I hadn’t been feeding her previously, so she hasn’t hung around since.  From the moment she was taken away we started having mice.  Lots of mice.  My husband was literally pulling mice nests out of engines every week.  Most the garden tractors, and he replaced about five ignition coils.  Then he pulled a mouse nest out of the Mazda that had clogged the air intake so bad that he had to go through a whole process to reset the computer since it had actually adjusted to the decreased air flow.   Basically, I hate mice.  So keeping the new cats around is a priority for me.  I’d rather spend money on cat food than on engine parts chewed up by the vermin


Heynj said:

Are possums frightened of owls? I have had success in keeping a destructive woodpecker away by mounting two plastic owls on window sills. They have little solar cells on them, and I think the eyes may glow at night. ( I guess you may need noise more than you need a visual.) Either way, I really don’t understand that you’re not formally blogging or at the very least perusing a contract for a reality show. Your life is way more interesting than that of 99.9 percent of the rest of the population, and I thank you for sharing your stories with a confirmed suburbanite like me!!

 I’m too easily distracted.  I do some updates, get distracted, then a year has suddenly passed  oh oh

I don’t think light up eyes would do it.  The camera we have lights up when it is motion activated.  Everyone, cats, opossum, fox (camera at the chicken coop) stop and look when they see it, but eventually move on.  The camera also has a speaker.   Noises worked at first, but the opossum quickly realized they were just noise.  I even tried the alarm.  Stupid thing picked his head up from the food bowl to look at the camera like “Really!?!” and then went back to eating.

Opossums do eat ticks.  But unlike cats that will still kill mice even if they’re not hungry, opossums eat ticks for food so if this guy is stuffing his face all the time I can’t even count on him to do that.  I don’t mind him being around.  I live in the country and wild animals live here too.  I just want it to stop stuffing its face at the cat feeder.  Oh, and it has ZERO table manners.  Stupid thing stood right in the water dish one night to get to the cat food.


Don't they make cat doors that are activated by a collar on the cat, so that they only open for your selected animals?  Or is the barn too "open" for that?

But really, I subscribe to the "cat will figure it out" side.  And it probably won't take days and days.  Assuming she is physically capable of jumping up to the shelf.  Maybe strongly scented food at first, if she doesn't learn by watching the other cat.


If the camera and light are able to turn on, there might be a person with enough electrical knowledge to come up with a way to piggyback on the circuitry for a servomotor somehow. Then it's a matter of choosing what to activate.


you should be able to teach the cat where the food is.  can you do it is small steps?  get a small table, stool, put  it on that, then put it on a higher table.....until it reaches the shelf...or maybe a ramp, putting a little food up every foot until it reaches the shelf.

also, at first, try tuna or rotisserie chicken, heated so it can be smelled.  the smell will attract the cat...just a little of the treat to attract the cat along with the regular food.

$20 in food for a couple cats seems excessive.  even with premium went food, the most expensive is about 2.50/can.  an average outdoor cat needs about 300 calories per day, which would be about 2 large (5.5 ounce?) cans per day.  Dry food tends to be about 40-50  calories per ounce, you would have to check your specific brand. 

and the blue brands don't have a good reputation.  they lied about ingredients.  i don't remember the whole story.


https://www.jameco.com/jameco/workshop/howitworks/how-servo-motors-work.html#:~:text=Servo%20Motor%20Applications,good%20power%20for%20their%20size.

Maybe this could be fun. Maybe a simple remote-controlled toy car. 


For now I’m going the ultra low tech route.  When we bought the house there was an old dining room table in there that I kept meaning to throw out.  I put the food on there, no way the opossum can get up on it, and anyone who has even owned a house cat knows they can easily get up.  It keeps the opossum off, but the cats are apparently not rocket scientists, so at night I put the food up on the table so the opossum can’t reach it, then in the morning I put it on the floor

It’s another chore for me, but it’s the best option for now 

The opossum knows the food is up there, but all his efforts are unsuccessful.  The cats haven’t even looked in that direction 

A bag of food costs $20, and with the cats would last awhile.  The issue was that the opossum was stuffing his face and eating it all


seriously, put some real chicken  or tuna (heated to enhance the smell) next to their regular food on the table to attract them.  hopefully after a few times they will learn to just go after their regular food.

supposedly dry food isn't great for cats, but with feral/outdoor/barn cats you really are limited in your ability to give wet food regularly.  I have a couple ferals and the only way wet works is that I sit with them while they eat...outside..no matter what the weather.

also, with winter, bugs aren't as much a problem, but I had to resort to putting a chalk barrier outside the bowl to prevent ants from getting in the food.  even had the food on a ledge and ants found it.


Spontaneous, this is somewhat off-topic but still related to backyard chicken pests. 
Do you have similar issues over there, with wild turkeys trying to mate with backyard chooks?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-12/brush-turkeys-attacking-backyard-chickens/12747364
I’m also thinking turkeys etc would love to get into whatever food they can find; over here, they’d go for anything edible. 


Any update to share with us, Spont? I still think it would be a hoot to use a remote-controlled car to mess with it.


I apparently have the only cat in existence who does not know how to jump onto a dining room table.  The opossum came and left a few times, and then finally worked up the strength to climb up the table leg.

I am now putting the feeder on the very top shelf at night and bringing it down during the day.  Kinda defeats the purpose of a gravity feed bowl, but at least it keeps the opossum from eating all the food.

Chunky Boi had shown up once or twice, but isn’t around  much now since he was only coming by at night to eat, usually between 2am and 5am.  When he shows up the food is now put away. 

Oh, and there was one night while I was up late playing solitaire on the phone and I got an alert on the barn camera.  It was the opossum.  Since I was still awake I went out there in my nightgown and sneakers and yelled at him while he cowered under the riding mower. I also growled and barked at him and shook the mower a bit to try and scare him.  Supposedly they don’t like confrontation and will leave an area if they feel unsafe.  But apparently my act did nothing since the next morning I checked the footage and he came back five more times afterwards.


joanne said:

Spontaneous, this is somewhat off-topic but still related to backyard chicken pests. 
Do you have similar issues over there, with wild turkeys trying to mate with backyard chooks?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-12/brush-turkeys-attacking-backyard-chickens/12747364
I’m also thinking turkeys etc would love to get into whatever food they can find; over here, they’d go for anything edible. 

We do have wild turkeys in New Jersey, but I haven’t seen any by us.  I don’t free range much, it’s fall and predators are getting hungry.   In the spring we lost one, White Butt, to a fox.  I found our useless rooster hiding in the hen house  question 

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but after going through a bunch of temporary names I finally named him Russell Crow.  I tell people it is because he is pretty to look at, but can act like an *** sometimes  


Might be worth sharing the article with a ‘backyard chooks’ forum over there, to see if perhaps  someone else has more info to share on the musings of this bored Queenslander...?

It would be fun to read their responses. What would you call a surviving chick of such background??


spontaneous said:

I apparently have the only cat in existence who does not know how to jump onto a dining room table.  The opossum came and left a few times, and then finally worked up the strength to climb up the table leg.

I am now putting the feeder on the very top shelf at night and bringing it down during the day.  Kinda defeats the purpose of a gravity feed bowl, but at least it keeps the opossum from eating all the food.

Chunky Boi had shown up once or twice, but isn’t around  much now since he was only coming by at night to eat, usually between 2am and 5am.  When he shows up the food is now put away. 

Oh, and there was one night while I was up late playing solitaire on the phone and I got an alert on the barn camera.  It was the opossum.  Since I was still awake I went out there in my nightgown and sneakers and yelled at him while he cowered under the riding mower. I also growled and barked at him and shook the mower a bit to try and scare him.  Supposedly they don’t like confrontation and will leave an area if they feel unsafe.  But apparently my act did nothing since the next morning I checked the footage and he came back five more times afterwards.

 Your neighbors must think you’re nuts....


Nah.  One of my neighbors love to blow stuff up.  Lots of fireworks, and this is before the pandemic so it isn’t the weird boredom thing that half the state dealt with a few months back.

Another neighbor bought one of the Elon Musk flame throwers and decided to test it out in his front yard.

Third neighbor who died before we moved in apparently used to sit in his yard shooting squirrels.  When we first moved here it was two months before we saw a single squirrel, and I had mistakenly assumed it was because of the predators (hawks, foxes, etc).  Now we have a normal number of squirrels roaming around the yard since they’re no longer being picked off by an armed man on a lawn chair.

Me running out to the barn in my nightgown and barking and growling at the opossum is probably pretty boring by comparison.




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