black and white cat lying in yard garden

Easy Ways to Naturally Repel Cats From Your Yard and Garden

If you’ve ever suffered the annoyance of outdoor and feral cats ruining your yard and garden, help is on the way. Neighborhood felines instinctively seek out bare soil to use as their toilet space and that’s what makes your garden a perfect outdoor litter box. Consider these ways to repel cats naturally that will make your property so unattractive to cats that they’ll find some other place to hang out and do their business.

black and white cat lying in yard garden

Keen sense of smell

Cats have a highly developed sense of smell that is about 40 times more sensitive than ours. Many scents that we find enjoyable actually repel cats naturally. The goal is to identify those that are so intense for cats, they become effective repellants to drive them away.

Spent coffee grounds

Cats hate the smell of coffee, which has strong natural scents that only get stronger after being ground up and exposed to hot water. Take advantage of this and use the spent coffee grounds after you brew that pot of coffee in the garden to repel cats from using it as their personal outdoor litter box.

The next time you brew a pot of coffee, take the spent grounds outside (wet or dry) and sprinkle them around your property borders, on the lawn, and or in the garden and the cats will stay away. Even better, coffee grounds are biodegradable and decompose on their own making them a  fantastic earth-friendly way to keep cats off the lawn and out of the garden.

Lay down chicken wire

A layer of chicken wire just below in areas cats are drawn to in your yard or garden. You can ay the wire right on the soil or mulch before you plant. You can use wire cutters to open up spots in the wire large enough to accept plants. Or skip the plants and sow seeds.

Why is this a great cat deterrent? Cats hate walking on the chicken wire, and so much so, they’ll steer clear of the “wired” areas.

Motion detector sprinkler

Cats hate to get wet, so this harmless option is super effective and quite possibly the best way to keep stray cats away. Motion-activated sprinklers like the Orbit Yard Enforcer use the motion sensors in their sensor housing unit to detect intruders’ presence, shooting a blast of water at the animal.

Search stores and online for a motion-activated animal repeller that is solar-powered. These things run from about $30 and $70, depending on the features. Solar power will make it convenient to place anywhere that it will receive sunlight.

Plant Coleus Canina

Coleus Canina (Plectranthus caninus) is the super choice in plants to deter cats from using your yard for their community litter box. Also known as the Scaredy-Cat Plant, strategically planting this around your yard will repel feral and other cats. While Coleus canine has a lovely purple flower, it gives off a strong stinky smell if touched. Keep that in mind as you decide exactly where to plant.

Repel cats with Lavender

Another option if you decide planting-to-deter is your option of choice is Lavender (Lavandula). These plants both look beautiful and have a lovely fragrance. For some reason, cats do not like lavender. The strong fragrance of lavender will also help to repel gnats and mosquitoes.

Plant these beautiful bushes along the perimeter of your yard to keep cats away. Should you go with the tall variety of lavender, a good option is to plant it around the perimeter to discourage cats from jumping to get into the garden.


Plant Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens) is an effective way to repel cats naturally—and dogs and Japanese beetles, says Tera Sinclair, a professional residential gardener in Fort Collins, Colo.

“Rabbits and deer won’t eat it either. Rue is easy to grow, enjoys full sun, is drought-tolerant, perennial, and semi-woody. That means it can be pruned into hedges,” says Sinclair.

DIY Cat repellent recipe

Give cats what they want

Along the lines of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” build an outdoor litter box to give the cats a new place to go and at the same time solve the problem of them pooping in your flower bed. Choose an area at the back of the yard or garden to place a large plastic bin with a lid. Cut an 8” x 8” doorway. Now fill it with sandbox sand to repel cats naturally away from your lawn and garden.

Because cats enjoy privacy, this will encourage them to do their business where you say they can, while at the same time protecting your yard and garden.


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11 replies
  1. Judi-R says:

    I stopped squirrels immediately, overnight! from digging up and/or tearing up my flowers by sprinkling fine ground black pepper on the plants and soil. To keep this effort humane and not torture, it’s important to have saucers around with water so that the squirrels can rinse their eyes, nose and mouths after contact with the burning black pepper. The first morning after shaking ground black pepper over the plants and soil, I saw only a few plants dug up and lots of black pepper floating on the water in the saucers. I cleaned the saucers and put out fresh water. The next day, no plants were disturbed and no black pepper on the water. The squirrels learned in one day!
    I applied more black pepper after each rain but soon the soil was saturated with pepper and I didn’t have to keep applying it. I purchased one pound of fine groung black pepper from a box store, for about $6. I purchased pie pans from the dollar store for the water. It’s important to have water in a low flat pan so that the squirrels can access it. We want the squirrels to go away; we don’t want to cause burning pain, eye infections and slow horrible death! Please be kind! And be careful with this application if you have dogs or cats using this area! I have two cats that go outside so I only used the black pepper in flower pots above ground.

  2. Cathy Hale says:

    How about tips to stop puppy from pulling up grass runners and digging holes in the grass? We’ve tried sprinkles of Cayenne to holes already dug up, but what can be used over the entire yard that would discourage digging?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Scroll to the bottom Peggy … keep scrolling to the very end. BIG orange button that says PRINT. It’s there! Always there…

  3. Pattye says:

    A few years ago we decided to put a Zen garden in our back yard. We carefully dug out an 18′ circle, filled it with sand, and my husband lugged 3 giant boulders into place. We raked lines around the boulders as shown in book photos. Within days our neighbor’s cat discovered it. She must have spread the word all over town about this great new sandbox because we got so many strange cats visiting. Weeding the Zen garden was anything but pleasant. Not long after, we abandoned Zen, replaced sand with dirt and planted a flower garden…..much more rewarding for us humans.

  4. Irene Saltsgaver says:

    you can also use orange peels to keep cats away, they don’t like citrus smell, I save my orange peels in the freezer and every once in awhile I put several in the blender with water and pour them where cats seem to think they need to use my yard as their potty. It has worked for at least 10 years

  5. AMEG says:

    These are great ideas but cats are the least of our yard problems. We have squirrels and gophers that destroy our vegetable garden! Any suggestions for natural deterrents? Thank you


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