How to deter cats from gardens

You can discourage cats from coming into your garden in several ways that aren't harmful. For example, cats dislike certain smells, which means those scents are perfect to use in your plot to keep them out of your garden. It's perfectly possible to be a cat lover and keep cats from pooping in your garden. Just use these tricks!

Use scent to keep the cats away

Interplant in the garden. Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender, marigolds, pennyroyal, Coleus canina, and lemon thyme — so plant a few of these throughout the garden space. As a bonus, interplanting will attract pollinators and can help to avoid pests too. 

Cats dislike the smell of vinegar and the smell of citrus peel. Because of this, it's easy to keep cats out of your garden by putting bowls of vinegar or citrus peel in several places around the yard (in particular those places the cat prefers to visit). Cats are guaranteed to stay away from those particular spots.

The scent of human hair deters cats. Empty your brushes onto the garden and reclaim your territory! (Stay away from moth balls though — this is a commonly cited suggestion — they are toxic to cats and humans).

Cats detest is cayenne pepper. So, it may be a good idea to scatter a good amount of cayenne pepper around the spots the cats like to visit. Then again, this may cause the cat to start sneezing violently, which make us feel a bit guilty. Also try using garlic, ground coffee or chilli pepper.

Use lion poo on your garden, available on the Internet - cats will think they're in the lion's territory!

Add some texture

Cats prefer to walk on soft soil and will avoid prickly surfaces. Make your garden beds into a less inviting litter box with the following prickly solutions:

  • Cover the garden in twigs, placed a couple of inches apart throughout the bed.
  • Push pine cones or other prickly yard trimmings down into the soil around your plants.
  • Lay chicken wire over the beds. Alternatively, upcycle the mesh produce bags from onions or potatoes by spreading them on the garden and anchoring them with twigs. Increase the hole size around your budding plants if necessary.

Cats hate water

Wash well to deter garden cats. If your visitor has a favourite location, try washing the area well with a hose (or water from your rain barrel!) to remove the scent or urine spray. Cats tend to choose the same spot repeatedly — removing their previous stake on your garden will go a long way towards preventing reoccurrences.

Use a motion-sensor for your sprinkler from the hardware shop. The sprinkler is activated by a motion sensor when the cat gets to close. As the sprinkler is enabled, the cat is greeted with an alarm and a quick squirt of water.

One of the most natural ways to keep cats away from your house or from being in your yard is with plain old water. Most cats don’t like to get wet, which is why a spray bottle filled with tap water works well, both indoors and out. Just fill the spray bottle and spray your cat when you catch them in areas you want to be off-limits.

Create an outdoor litter box

Cats love mint, honeysuckle and catnip. Why not plant a small, separate, cat-friendly garden that includes a variety of these plants? Place a small sand box nearby. You’ll still have to clean up and properly dispose of your cat’s waste, but it might help keep kitty — and her business — out of your veggies.

Mix up a batch of cat repellent

Cat repellent is available from your local garden centre or shops like Mitre10 and Bunnings. Or you could make your own:

Pepper Cat Repellent

  1. Combine 1 tsp of black pepper, dry mustard and cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove.
  2. Fill to the top with water.
  3. Apply to your garden beds.

Essential Oil Cat Repellent

  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • Water

Add the essential oil to a spray bottle. For the repellent, you’ll need a 2-ounce (59 ml) glass spray bottle. Squeeze 2 drops of lemon essential oil, 2 drops of wild orange essential oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oil to the bottle. Cats are more sensitive to scents than humans, so essential oils with strong odors, such as citrus and lavender, can help repel them. You can substitute lime, peppermint, and/or eucalyptus for the lemon, wild orange, and lavender if you prefer. It’s important to use a glass bottle for the spray because essential oils degrade more easily in a plastic bottle.

Fill the spray bottle with water and shake it well to mix. After you’ve added the essential oils to the spray bottle, pour enough water in to fill it.Close the bottle securely, and shake it well to ensure that the oils are blended with the water. It isn’t necessary to use filtered or purified water for the spray. Regular tap water works fine.

Vinegar Cat Repellent

  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 part liquid hand soap
  • 1 part water

Add the vinegar and water to a spray bottle. For the cat repellent, you’ll need a spray bottle. Pour 1 part vinegar and 1 part water into the bottle, and swish them together quickly to blend them. Use white vinegar for the spray. You can use tap, filtered, purified, or bottled water for the repellent. You can use either a plastic or glass spray bottle for repellent.

Citrus Cat Repellent

  • 2 cups (473 ml) water
  • 1 cup (96 g) orange, lemon, lime, and/or tangerine peels
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon juice
  • Lemon-scented dish soap

Boil the water. Add 2 cups (473 ml) water to a medium pot. Heat the water over medium-high to high heat until it comes to a boil, which should take 5 to 7 minutes. Because you’re boiling it, tap water is fine for the repellent.

Mix in the citrus peels and simmer the mixture. Once the water comes to a boil, add 1 cup (96 g) of orange, lemon, lime, and/or tangerine peels to the pot. Lower the heat to medium, and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. Cat dislike citrus scents, so any combination of orange, lemon, lime, and/or tangerine peels that totals a cup (96 g) will work for the repellent. If the mixture begins to boil again, lower the heat.

Allow the mixture to cool and transfer the mixture to a spray bottle. After the mixture has simmered for 20 minutes, take the pot off the heat. Let the mixture cool completely, which should take approximately 30 minutes, before transferring it to a spray bottle. If the citrus peels are in large chunks, you can strain them out of the mixture so it’s easier to pour into the bottle.

Add the lemon juice and dish soap and shake well to mix. When the mixture is in the spray bottle, pour 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of lemon juice and a squirt or two of lemon-scented dish soap. Shake the bottle well to ensure that all of the ingredients are well combined. You can substitute lime or orange juice for the lemon, but be sure to use freshly squeezed juice. You can use any type of clear dish soap, but a lemon-scented formula works best because cats don’t like the citrus scent.

Citronella Oil Cat Repellent

  • 20 drops citronella oil
  • ¾ cup (177ml) water

Fill a spray bottle with the water. For the cat repellent, you’ll need a glass spray bottle. Add enough water to the bottle to almost fill it all the way to the top. Tap, filtered, purified, and bottled water will all work for the repellent. Using a glass spray bottle helps keep the repellent effect because the oil is more likely to break down in a plastic container.

Add the citronella oil to the bottle and shake it well. After you’ve nearly filled the bottle with water, squeeze 20 drops of citronella oil into it. Mix the oil into the water by shaking the bottle well. Like citrus and other essential oils, citronella oil has an extremely strong odour that repels cats. It is also effective in keeping insects away.

Garlic, Pepper, and Lemon Cat Repellent

  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) cinnamon
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 3 to 4 drops lemon essential oil
  • Water

Combine the pepper, mustard, and cinnamon in a spray bottle. For the cat repellent, you’ll need a 2-ounce (59 ml) glass spray bottle. Add 1 teaspoon (2g) of black pepper, 1 teaspoon (2g) of dry mustard, and 1 teaspoon (3 g) of cinnamon to the bottle. You can substitute cayenne pepper for the black if you prefer. 
Add the essential oil and garlic. After you’ve added the spices to the spray bottle, toss in a crushed garlic clove. Next, squeeze in 3 to 4 drops of lemon essential oil, and swish the contents gently to combine them. You can substitute ⅛ teaspoon (½ g) of garlic powder for the clove. Lime, wild orange, or grapefruit essential oil will work in place of the lemon.

Fill the bottle with water and mix well. Once all of the spices and oil are in the bottle, add enough water to fill the container. Shake the bottle vigorously to completely blend all of the ingredients. Tap water will work well for the repellent.

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