How To Repel Cats: 10 Humane Ways To Keep Them Away



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Whether in your garden, yard, or even inside the house, cats can cause all kinds of trouble – from digging up plants and leaving a mess to making noise at night.

Use motion-activated sprinklers, spiky deterrents, coffee grounds, chicken wire, and strong-smelling herbs and plants to repel feral cats from your garden. Also, secure trash cans and clean the area around them.

How To Repel Cats - 10 Humane Ways To Keep Cats Away. A grey and white cat standing on a wooden fence with bushes behind it.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to repel cats, why it’s essential, what measures work best, and how to use them safely and humanely.

The Benefits of Repelling Cats

When it comes to cats, the most common problem is their tendency to wander. Feral cats–those that have been abandoned or are not owned by anyone–are especially prone to exploring and wandering.

Unwanted cats can cause various neighborhood problems, including noise, messes, and fighting.

You can reduce the number of free-roaming cats in an area by successfully keeping them away from your property. This helps decrease noise levels and reduces the risk of diseases like fleas, ringworm, and unwanted mess in your garden.

Other animals, such as smaller pets and fish, can be at risk due to unwanted cats. Their presence can cause your pet to become stressed or scared and, in some cases, even get attacked by them.

It also helps protect your garden and other outdoor areas from damage. Cats can be destructive in a garden and often use it as their litter box. Keeping them away from the plants and soil will keep your garden looking its best

Finally, repelling cats is also a humane way of keeping them out of your area. Practices such as trapping, poisoning, or shooting them are cruel and shouldn’t be considered an option. But warding them off isn’t malicious; it simply acts as a deterrent that discourages them from entering the area.

Identifying The Areas Cats Like

Before you can effectively repel cats, it’s vital to identify the areas they’re damaging. Look around your garden or yard and determine which plants have been dug up, what messes have been left behind, and where noise is frequently heard.

Knowing these areas will help you determine the most effective cat-repellent type.

Typical areas of destruction by cats include flowerbeds and gardens, flower pots and foliage, garbage cans and outdoor litter boxes, decks or porches, and even vehicles. Make sure to note any scratching on furniture or walls as well.

What Measures Work Best To Repel Cats?

Keeping cats away isn’t always easy, but you can ensure they stay out with the proper methods.

Scents To Repel Cats

One of the simplest and most effective ways to repel cats is by scent. They have a keen sense of smell, so utilizing particular scents they hate deters them from areas they don’t belong.

Various scented cat repellents, including granules and sprays containing natural ingredients cats hate, are available on the market.

Sprinkle these granules around the perimeter of your garden or flowerbeds to keep them away. Then, use an empty spray bottle to disperse the scent over a larger area. Just be sure to use a non-toxic and all-natural solution, as some commercially available store versions might contain ingredients that can be harmful to cats.

You can combine water with essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, and citronella to make your scented cat repellent. You can also try adding aromatic herbs such as rosemary, lemon balm, or chamomile to water and then spraying the mixture over areas cats are known to frequent.

Citrus peels are another great way to repel cats with scent. Place orange, lemon, or lime peels in your garden; leave the peelings around your chosen areas and allow the smell to work. If you don’t want to leave citrus peels in your garden, you can also create a concoction with citrus oil; approximately 10 drops per cup of water should be enough for an effective cat-repellent spray.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are another great option for naturally scenting your garden. Not only do cats find the smell of coffee unpleasant, but it also repels other pests like mosquitos and slugs.

Merely scatter used coffee grounds around your plants or mix with soil to keep cats away while fertilizing your plants simultaneously. Keep an eye on the areas where you have applied scents, as the smell dissipates over time and needs to be reapplied.


Noise is another way to repel cats from your yard or property. Loud noises such as clanging pots and pans, blowing a whistle, or banging on metal surfaces will generally frighten them away.

You can also install motion-activated noisemakers in and around your home. These devices are triggered by motion or heat and emit a loud, unpleasant sound when cats or other animals come too close. However, the noise devices might become annoying if a large cat population roams your neighborhood!

Another effective noise deterrent is ultrasonic sound systems. These systems use high-frequency sound waves to repel cats without disturbing you or your neighbors. In addition, you can purchase motion-activated devices that emit a loud, high-pitched sound—the kind cats hate—whenever they visit.

Block Access For Cats: Install Chicken Wire

Enclosing your garden or flowerbeds with chicken wire can make the area unappealing to cats. However, using chicken wire can be accomplished quickly and will keep them out of off-limit areas.

When installing the chicken wire, use the larger mesh and secure it tightly so cats can’t fit through. You can also use chicken wire around porches, decks, and other areas of your home.

If you’re looking for a more aesthetically-pleasing option, look into plastic netting or wooden lattices. For additional protection for your garden, consider burying the chicken wire around the edges—this should provide more security against strays and neighborhood cats.

Digging Barriers

Another way to keep cats from digging in your garden is to install digging barriers. These include mulch, sand or stones, river rocks, and lattice fencing.

Mulch is an excellent option as it is not only aesthetically pleasing but also works well at preventing cats from getting into the soil underneath; while still being easy to walk on.

Stones and pebbles work great as barriers – they make the soil hard for cats to dig through and are also visually pleasing. Lattice fencing can be laid over the garden bed, with plants inserted between the lattice to give it a unique look, and will discourage digging in the garden without harming the cats or your plants.

Plastic spiked mats such as carpet runners can be laid around the garden to deter cats. These mats are easily cut into smaller pieces and placed into planters for more efficacy. Placing them at the edge of the property also prevents cats from jumping into the garden.

If you’re on a budget, mesh produce bags from the grocery store can be an alternative to these mats.

Keep Your Trash Cans Secure

Cats love to rummage and scavenge, making them a common sight in many people’s trash bins.

To keep them from raiding your bins, ensure the lids are firmly secured so they can’t get inside. In addition, it would be helpful to tie the lid down with bungee cords or rope to guarantee further that cats won’t be able to get into the trash.

Keep your bins far away from the edges of your house and any trees or bushes to reduce their access. If you have an outdoor litter box, ensure it’s covered and kept in a secure area so they won’t be able to get into it.

You also want to keep your bins as clean as possible; cats and other predators are attracted to areas with food smells and garbage, so reducing the odor will deter them.

Motion Activated Sprinklers

Cats hate being suddenly surprised, so using sprinklers that are motion activated is a good method to use to keep them away from your garden. When a cat passes by the sensor, it triggers jets of water that will startle and scare it away.

These devices also have adjustable settings to control the spray’s intensity. Motion-activated sprinklers can train cats straying onto your property to avoid the area.

They are an effective way of keeping cats away while remaining humane. Plus, they can be adjusted depending on the size of the area you need to protect. So if you’re looking for an effective and humane way to keep cats out of your yard and garden, motion-activated sprinklers are a great choice. However, you may have to consider hosepipe bans during the warmer months.

Plant Herbs Cats Dislike

Cats avoid certain plants with strong odors, such as lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and rue. Planting these herbs around your garden or yard will create a natural barrier they won’t overcome.

Try Coleus canina, the ‘scaredy cat plant,’ to keep cats away from your house. If you don’t have room in your yard for an entire herb garden, try planting potted plants on your porch or deck. Planting is probably the most cost-effective and effective cat deterrent that you can use.

Use Spiky Cat Deterrents

Spiky deterrents are one of the oldest and most reliable methods for keeping cats out of your garden. Scattering sharp objects such as pine cones, pebbles, holly cuttings, eggshell shards, and twigs around your garden will discourage them from entering the area.

These deterrents should be placed directly in their path to ensure they are noticed and avoided. Make sure to replace them if they become wet or start decomposing.

You can also plant bushes that have thorns around your garden. These prickly plants will be a natural barrier and keep cats from coming too close. Popular choices for these shrubs include rosebushes, barberries, blackberries, hawthorn, and holly. For best results, plant them near the perimeter of your garden to create a formidable wall.

Cover Up: Protect Your Flowerbeds From the Elements and Cats

Your garden reflects your style and hard work, and cats can quickly undo all of that when they decide to dig up your flower beds. Therefore, it’s necessary to cover exposed soil in your flowerbeds and gardens using plastic netting, gravel, or river rocks.

If cats don’t have access to loose soil, they won’t be able to use it as a litter box.

You can place rocks or other heavy objects around your flowerbeds to deter them from digging. Creating an environment that is not conducive to cats will make you less likely to have unwelcome visitors in your yard and garden.

Utilize Visual Deterrents For Cats

Cats are naturally wary of anything unfamiliar, so using visual deterrents can effectively repel them. You can do this in various ways, such as hanging a wind chime or reflective item (like CDs or aluminum foil) that moves around in the wind to scare them away.

Hang old CDs on strings around your perimeter and allow them to move in the wind, creating an eye-catching motion that cats will be wary of.

Remove Potential Sources of Shelter For Cats

Cats love to find cozy and safe hiding spots, so removing any potential shelters around your property that cats could use as their own is essential. This might include wood piles, bricks, or even large rocks.

Cutting back on the overgrown vegetation in your yard is also a great way to remove potential shelter spots. It’s best to keep the area mowed and well-maintained so that cats won’t be able to hide among the tall grasses.

For areas of your property that you can’t reach with a lawn mower, you can use a weed whacker to remove any potential shelter spots. This will give you peace of mind knowing that cats won’t be able to use your property as a hideaway!

If outdoor sheds or garages are on your property, ensure they are properly sealed and locked up so cats can’t slip inside. Taking away their potential hiding spots will help ensure they won’t be able to make your property their home.

Final Thoughts on Deterring Cats

Understanding the causes of a cat’s presence and utilizing safe and humane techniques like scent deterrents and noise makers makes it possible to reduce their visits without extreme measures.

The easiest, most cost-effective, and most aesthetic method is to include some strong-smelling cat-repellent plants in your garden or yard, such as lavender or rosemary. This method has the lowest chance of upsetting your neighbors and has the bonus of making your garden or yard look and smell lovely!

Before you go, you may find these articles helpful:

What Smell Do Cats Hate: 10 Scents Cats Hate

What Scents Do Cats Hate?

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