How To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden
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How To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden

Est. read time: 4 min.

Green thumbers, listen up! It’s National Gardening Week, so we decided to tackle a semi-common issue that arises as the weather warms up and planting becomes plentiful: how to keep cats out of your garden. Use these tips to safely dissuade felines from messing around in your vegetable patch, flower beds, and more.

Motion-activated sprinklers

Even cats that supposedly enjoy water will not appreciate a sudden cold, wet dousing. Most motion-activated sprinklers use infrared rays to detect an animal’s presence before releasing a burst of water. The water may not always hit the cat, but it will startle him enough to flee the scene. Just remember to turn off the sensors before you partake in your gardening activities!

Smelly plants

Odor can play a powerful role in determining how to keep cats out of your garden. Certain plants give off scents that cats dislike. Interplant a few of these to deter cats from rooting around in the nearby soil:

  • Coleus canina, also known as the “scaredy cat plant,” gives off a distinctive skunk smell and is also a dog repellent
  • Lavender (also a deer repellent)
  • Rue
  • Lemon thyme
  • Geranium  

is lavender safe for cats?
© Karmela Kortizija / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Is lavender safe for cats?

It is very unlikely that cats will try to ingest lavender, due to its deterrent odor. However, cats that do ingest it may experience nausea and vomiting. Many essential oils, including lavender, should not be diffused near cats, as they can cause respiratory irritation or symptoms of poisoning.

Other smelly deterrents

If you don’t wish to muddy up your garden with cat-repelling plants, there are other ways to deter cats using scent. Cats dislike citrus smells, so you could throw your orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit peels on and around the garden. Brown Thumb Mama also recommends mixing 10 drops of rosemary essential oil in 1 cup of water and spraying it wherever you’ve noticed unwanted feline visitors.  

We do not recommend using mothballs, cayenne pepper or other pepper flakes, blood meal, bone meal, or fish meal, as these items can inadvertently harm animals, including cats.

Uncomfortable surfaces

One of the most common reasons you’ll find cats in your garden is that they’re using the soil as a litter box. Cats instinctively prefer soft, loose surfaces in order to bury their waste. Turn your garden surface into an uncomfortable plot of land by covering the soil with chicken wire, twigs, pine cones, prickly yard trimmings, stone mulch, holly cuttings, or even egg shells.

Pro tip: If you find that your cat or a neighborhood feline has been urinating in the garden, hose the area down and use an enzyme-based neutralizer to prevent repeated spraying.

cat-proof fencing

Cat-proof fencing

If you’re wondering how to keep cats out of your garden and you have a budget to spare, consider cat-proof fencing. Although cat-proof fencing can be relatively expensive, it is also highly effective. It works by pointing the slanted top of the fencing outwards instead of in.

Ultrasonic devices

Ultrasonic devices emit a high-frequency alarm that is inaudible to humans but highly irritating to cats. You can situate the device so that it faces toward the garden; when its motion sensor detects an animal’s presence, the device emits the startling noise. Most ultrasonic devices have limited range, so their effectiveness is debatable. Some devices also include flashing strobe lights and optional audible alarms.

catnip plant
Catnip plant © Muffet / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Cat-friendly garden

Instead of focusing on how to keep cats out of your garden, consider building a garden specifically for your cats! Cat-friendly plants that you might consider growing include catnip and cat grass (of course!), honeysuckle, bamboo, basil, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, sage, and thyme.


Cover photo: © Alexey Komarov / CC-BY-SA-4.0

how to keep cats out of your garden; orange cat in a garden


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