Cats in the garden


How to Keep Stray Cats Away from the Garden & Flower Bed

Stray cats can be a huge nuisance for gardeners, especially if they step on flowers and plants. Here are six tricks you can use to keep the stray cats away from the garden bed.

How to Keep Cats out of Your Garden

1. Install Motion-detecting Sprinklers
Cats generally don’t like water. You can purchase motion-detecting sprinklers online that’ll spray water on unwanted intruders. You may need to test out different locations of the backyard to determine the most effective spot for deterring stray cats.

2. Use Ultrasonic Repellent Devices
The ultrasonic repeller is another device that can keep cats out of the garden. The device will emit an ultrasonic noise that can be heard by cats but not by us. This noise will scare the stray cats away. You may need multiple devices if you have a large garden.

3. Set up an Unwelcoming Surface
Cats like to step on soft ground surface. You could try to deter cats from entering the garden or flower bed by placing pointy objects along the perimeter of the gardening space. This could include objects like pine cones, plant stakes, and tooth picks.

4. Spray Non-toxic Scents
Cats are sensitive to smell. Create your own cayenne pepper spray and apply it along the perimeter of the garden. The cats will think twice before they visit again.

5. Set up Physical Wall Barriers
If your garden is surrounded by a wall or fence then consider implementing spikes on top of the barrier. Plenty of wall spikes can be found online. They are sharp but not to the point of injuring the feline creatures.

6. Create a Diversion
If the stray cats are here to stay then set up a diversion to keep them away from the garden bed. For example, you could build an outdoor litter box in an isolated corner of the backyard. You could also try applying some catnip on areas where it is fine for the stray cats to roam.

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

Here are some helpful methods to keep cats out of your garden:


Cats prefer gardens with soft, dry dirt or sand. Anything pointy or bristly will help deter them. Some things people have used in or on dirt:

  • pine cones
  • stone mulch
  • plastic carpet runner, spikey side up
  • chicken wire over top of dirt
  • plastic forks, tines up
  • chop sticks
  • plastic plant stakes
  • cedar mulch covered with pine mulch and straw
  • plastic netting
  • burlap coffee sacks
  • straw mulch
  • egg shells
  • small branches saved from pruning (insert in soil at random angles)


There are a number of safe, nontoxic scents that cats don’t like and will tend to avoid:

  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • dry mustard powder
  • coffee grounds (ask for free grounds at your local cafe)
  • used tea leaves
  • orange peels
  • Nature’s Wisdom Orange Oil Concentrate
  • Shake-Away (cat repellant granules)
  • U Scram Cat Deterrent
  • fox urine
  • plants: Coleus canin (scaredy cat plant), lavender, rue, geranium, lemon thyme
  • essential oils (mix 1 part oil with 3 parts water and spray mulch or fabric strips): citronella, orange, lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, anise
  • Note: Despite what you may see on other web sites, mothballs are toxic to pets, people and the environment. Bloodmeal, bonemeal and fish meal may also be toxic to pets if ingested. Please do not use these items.


Motion-activated sprinkler (Scarecrow, Havahart etc.)

High Tech

Reverse Psychology

  • Build a sandbox to lure cats away from where you don’t want them. (This will help contain the mess in one location.)
  • Plant catnip in a location where you would prefer cats to be.

DEAR JOAN: I have several raised beds in my yard and two feral cats are using them for their restroom. What can I do to deter these actions?

Sue, Bay Area

DEAR SUE: When a gardening friend of mine was asked how to get rid of the ivy that keeps springing up in her yard, my friend said, “Move.” I’m tempted to give the same answer to you, but it’s not quite as hopeless as ivy or Bermuda grass.

The cats visiting your yard might or might not be feral. They could belong to your neighbors, or to the folks down the street or around the block. That doesn’t really matter either because chances are, even if they have homes, their owners might not be sympathetic to your plight. So it falls to you to protect your beds.

Some things work against some cats, some don’t, so you’ll need to go the trial and error route, and keep your sense of humor.

Some cats don’t like the scent of citrus — oranges and lemons. You can buy sprays at the pet food supply store and give them a shot, or try cutting lemons and scattering them in your beds. Lemon or orange peels might be enough.

Another method is to mulch your beds with rough, jagged materials — not to injure the cats’ feet, but to discourage them from walking on your beds. It could be coarsely ground gravel or those stickery seed pods from a liquidambar tree. You don’t have to cover the ground, just scatter them around enough so the cat can’t easily walk into the bed.

My favorite suggestion, mainly because it makes your neighbors wonder about you, is to bury plastic forks, tines up, throughout your bed. The forks should be deep enough that only the tines show.

A good friend of mine takes a different tack. He grows a large bed of catnip in the corner of his garden, far from his planter boxes. He swears that the cats come into the yard intent on doing their business, get distracted by the catnip and then wander away into someone else’s yard, leaving his beds pristine.

The good news is that if you can successfully discourage them from using your beds for a few days in a row, they aren’t likely to come back.

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DEAR JOAN: A couple of weeks ago, we had what I thought was a mouse in our pantry. It gnawed through a plastic bag containing some leftover chocolate candies, but other than a few droppings, no other clues.

However, over the next few days I found little piles of the candies all over the house, behind doors, furniture, and even downstairs. They didn’t have tooth marks on them, and they were large enough that I couldn’t imagine how a little mouse could have carried them.

We then had another attack in the pantry, with the creature — I assume the same one — eating through a Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa box and getting cocoa powder all over.

I then set traps, but have not caught any nor had any more incidents. Any ideas as to what this creature might be?

Mice, in my experience, don’t give up this easily, but I can’t see how a pack rat could even get into our pantry. I know chocolate can kill dogs, but would it kill a mouse or other rodent?

Howard Nelson, Alamo

DEAR HOWARD: I think it more likely you had a rat visiting. Chocolate does not harm rodents, but it will make them fat. Maybe yours got too fat to fit through the hole.

What’s the best natural cat repellent?

The problem with using many commercially manufactured cat repellents is that they may contain chemicals that could harm cats over time. Cats are curious creatures and it’s in their nature to explore and it’s not fair to punish them for it. Natural cat repellents will deter cats without causing any long-term damage.

Outdoor Repellents

Netting or fencing off garden plants will prevent cats from accessing them; however, they can be an eyesore and are certainly not for everybody. If you don’t want to take this approach try placing gravel or pine cones around your plants. Cats hate the texture of these substances and won’t dare to go near your plants if they cover the pathway.

Plant coleus canina, lavender or rue if you’d like to take a more earthly approach. These plants are known for repelling cats due to their strong scents. In addition, citrus based fruit peels such as orange and lemon will also help; however, they will biodegrade quickly.

Indoor Repellents

Place aluminum foil or double-sided sticky tape on restricted areas of your carpet or furniture. Cats hate the texture and the way it feels on their paws. While you probably won’t want to foil or tape there permanently, over time your cat will get used to not using that particular area and you should be able to remove them.

If you have kittens, baby or pet gates could stop them from wondering upstairs or accessing certain rooms. However, cats are pretty good jumpers, so this probably won’t work when they get a little older.

Scent Repellents

Cats have 40 times the odor sensitivity of humans and are able to smell scents for days or even weeks after the scent producing chemical has disappeared. Luckily, cats hate many smells that are pleasant for humans.

Place natural oils – citronella, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass – in restricted areas. Make a homemade solution by mixing one part oil with three parts water, and spray it around your home. The scents will disappear after a few hours, but cats will be able to smell them for a long time afterwards.

Water is one of the best natural repellents around. Cats dislike water, so if you catch your cat approaching an area that’s restricted, give him a little spray. Do this a few times and he’ll stop returning to that particular area

For outdoor areas, you can purchase sprinklers which are attached to a motion sensor. These machines will spray cats that enter your garden with a gentle blast, which will discourage them from coming back.

10 Smells that Cats Hate

Firstly, you need to know that cats have a sense of smell that is fourteen times stronger than that of a human being. This is because, even though it is not physically obvious, the nasal organ of each cat is much bigger than that of a human being.The cat’s olfactory system is distributed throughout its entire head, which gives them an amazing ability to smell.

Remember that cats, in this case, are also like people. There are some typical smells that are hated by the majority of cats, but even so, it depends on the individual. Some smells might be more repulsive to some cats than others. However, the following list is relevant for a large number of cats. Your cat, undoubtedly, could have a special sense of smell.

1- Citrus scents

Cats aren’t fans of limes, oranges, lemons and similar smells. In fact, there are cat repellents which contain smells such as these. If, for example, you’re trying to stop your cat eating all of the flowers in your garden, you can spray them with some orange oil or scatter the peel of some of these fruits around them. They don’t like the taste very much either, so it’s quite possible that they stay away from the area where they see a high presence of these elements.

2- Banana

Even though they are very tasty and high in potassium, cats don’t get on very well with this fruit. Rub the outside of a banana peel on the sofa, or leave it there for a day, if you don’t want your cat to have a nap there and leave their hair all over it.

3- Dirty litter box

Who likes to go to a bad-smelling bathroom? The same applies to cats when their litter box is dirty. Under no circumstances will they want to go near it. A dirty litter box could cause your cat to get angry with you and, as a way of getting back at you, make their own litter box on an expensive rug. Or, on an exotic plant and even on an item of clothing that has fell to the floor.

4 – Pine

Even though some natural sands comprise of this type of material (making it more pleasant for the cat in every sense), you mustn’t abuse the intensity of this smell. Doing so would have the opposite effect on the cat, to the point in which tit ends up hating the sand and rejecting it. By rotating the smells of the sand, and choosing more neutral-smelling ones, you’ll ensure that your cat doesn’t get fed up of them.

5- Poor condition fish

This is another similarity between cats and human beings. There is a huge difference between liking the taste of fish and liking the smell of it once it’s gone-off. Cats, just like humans, hate everything that is out of date. We recommend that you never give your cat out of date fish: firstly, because they won’t eat it, and secondly, because if you force them, they will get ill or you could end up poisoning them.

Landscapes that are both beautiful and functional earn extra points in any gardeners’ book. But gardens that are beautiful, pet-friendly and repel pests take the cake. Luckily, it doesn’t take too much effort to petscape for a Safe Paws yard.

While some pest-fighting plants like citronella and eucalyptus are poisonous to pets, there are other options that are more pet-friendly. Repel pests naturally in your yard with these pet-safe plants.

Three plants to repel pests

  1. Easy and fast-growing mint oil is proven to repel ticks, ants, mice and moths. Add mint to containers or plant it in an area where you can control its spread. Easy and fast-growing, mint needs little care as long as it’s grown in full sun. Pinch off flower buds as they appear and thin plants regularly.
  2. Rosemary, a member of the mint family, can keep mosquitoes at bay. This Mediterranean favorite is one of the most aromatic herbs you can grow. Grow in full sun and water when dry. Although you don’t need to prune, you can cut back branches to help your rosemary bush stay in shape.
  3. Chamomile is said to improve the plant health of any garden, plus its strong scent keeps fleas away. This plant grows best in cool conditions and should be planted in part shade, however, it will also grow full sun.

Keep your pet-friendly, pest-repelling garden growing strong by feeding with Espoma’s liquid Grow! plant food.

Ready to learn more? Learn how to keep pets safe outdoors in summer.

Citronella Essential Oil For Dogs: How Can Citronella Help Your Pet?

Cats, Dogs, Gerbils, Oompa Loompas!… Yup. Pets make pretty good companions in this life. They will be there for you when you’re having a bad day. They will cheer you up, give you love, guilt you into giving them yummy scraps, and occasionally even pull some overweight, candy-guzzling, insolent boy from the depth of your chocolate river (this last one may apply more to Oompa Loompas).

It seems essential oils have always been a part of human existence. Since the beginning of recorded history, we have been taking plant life of all kinds and using its stems, barks, flowers, leaves, fruits, and peels to produce oil.

Employing various methods of extraction, we have been able to gather more than 90 essential oils in our arsenal. Each one with its own scent, its own special properties, and its own health benefits. Recently, more people have been introducing essential oils to their furry little life partners. One such oil, which is considered useful and beneficial for pets, is citronella, which is also known as Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus.

What Is Citronella Oil? How Can It Help My Pet?

Citronella Essential Oil.

The citronella plant is native to Southeast Asia, places like Indonesia, Java, and Burma. Citronella looks and smells a lot like lemongrass but its appearance is slightly different. It is also usually not as tall as lemongrass. It is considered a plant which is easy to grow and cultivate and it is highly useful, whether in plant form or in the form of essential oil.

The essential oil of citronella is usually extracted by means of steam distillation since that is the optimal method for harnessing the various nutrients and chemicals which make it so medically and therapeutically beneficial. Citronella oil can be found in a variety of common cleaning products, detergents, deodorants and beauty/cosmetics products, due to its antifungal and antibacterial qualities, as well as the large amount of antioxidants it contains.

Many times, it is an oil which is used to keep pests and insects from coming too close to our homes and bodies. This is precisely where it can be extremely beneficial for your cat, dog or Oompa Loompa. There are many insecticides out there, but too often they have harsh chemicals and potentially-toxic substances in them. Now, obviously, this is done so the formula will be effective. You can’t sell an insecticide without a proper insect-repelling agent. Doing so would kind of defeat the purpose, be highly counter-productive, and ultimately cause you to lose some money.

Citronella, on the other hand, is all natural, and when used properly there are no known side effects. Furthermore, it uses water or a vegetable oil as a carrier, unlike many commercial insecticides which use alcohol.

Get to Know the Uses and Health Benefits of Citronella Oil#CitronellaOilBenefits

— ihomeremedy (@homeremedyweb) July 6, 2016

Citronella oil is especially popular with dog and cat owners. Fleas are a nuisance, but in some cases, they can cause your pet to develop a more serious reaction, known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Not all pets develop this condition, but some do. Citronella – whether burned above a candle or used in a pet shampoo, can help to prevent fleas from attaching themselves to your pets. When properly diluted – more on that later – you can even apply it topically to your dog or cat’s coat.

Citronella has a lovely lemony scent, and it can help cover up unwanted odours and keep your pet’s skin clean and healthy. To use topically, apply the (heavily diluted) oil to a rag or paper towel, and proceed to rub it into your pet’s coat. Avoid contact with any openings: eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and anus. Contact with such areas may result in a negative reaction.

Remember, our pets are a lot more susceptible to irritation, since they have very different skin than we do, with varying levels of pH. What we find normal and soothing, they may find annoying and highly irritating. Keep in mind that just like humans, cats and dogs of different species react differently to substances like essential oils. And, just like with humans, certain precautions need to be taken when dealing with volatile compounds like citronella oil.

This is the place to note that this is not an absolute. It is not a cure for anything, nor is it a miracle-working substance. It could very well be that your cat or dog will have no reaction to the citronella, one way or another. It happens. Which is also why citronella is not the only essential oil recommended for pets. Different strokes, you know?

Does Your Dog Need Titer Testing?

Warnings And Safety Tips

As mentioned, essential oils have been mankind’s friends for thousands of years. They help strengthen our systems and heal from injury. They provide physical, mental, and spiritual balance, and help us to stay focused. With humans, we always recommend consulting a healthcare professional and also advise that small children and nursing/expecting women, should avoid topical use, direct inhalation and over-exposure to oils of different kinds.

This is done as a precaution because essential oils can also be toxic to certain individuals and in certain amounts. When it comes to pets, you need to be even more careful. An oil like citronella can be very helpful, but it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Because of that, it is imperative that you get the green light from your vet before beginning any kind of treatment on your pet, and follow instructions closely.

It may be a good idea to get your pet comfortable and accustomed to the presence of citronella, by first using it on yourself or burning it in a diffuser. When applying directly to your pet, dilute citronella with a suitable carrier. Popular choices include; olive oil, almond oil, or simply water. Pets are more liable to lick and ingest the oil. They are more likely to find the scent offensive and disquieting, rather than pleasant and soothing.

Give your pet a way to get away from the smell. They may find the scent too strong and need a place where they can breathe freely and get some fresh oxygen into their systems. I’ve mentioned that citronella should have no side effects when used properly, but these things are never 100%. In the first days of treating your dog or cat with any essential oils, keep your eyes and ears open for anything.

Lack of appetite, acute lethargy, abnormal amounts of scratching – these could all be possibly indicative of an issue. If you have a feeling the oil is not agreeing with your pet, discontinue use and get in touch with your vet.


Alright, I confess. Oompa Loompa’s are not traditional pets. In fact, they aren’t pets at all. They come from Loompaland, they have orange faces and I’ve never seen them or petted one once in my life. There, I said it. So, would Oompa Loompas also enjoy the lemony scent of pure citronella oil? I don’t know. Go ask your dog!

Using Citronella Oil as a Cat Repellent

Cat’s can cause issues if they are hanging out where they don’t belong. Because of this, many people look for types of cat repellent. While there are many products out on the market that claim to repel cats, not all of them are safe and nontoxic. There are several types of natural cat repellent, but one of the most popular cat repellents is citronella oil.

Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is a strong smelling oil that is usually thought of only as a repellent for mosquitoes, but there are several other uses for citronella oil, one of which is repelling cats from places that they don’t belong. Citronella is a natural substance that originally comes from Sri Lanka. It is believed that the strong smell of this oil is what will keep the cats out of the areas that you don’t want them to be in. Citronella oil is safe to use indoors and outdoors so no matter where you are trying to keep the cats away from this should work for you.

Why Citronella Oil Works

Cats have an extremely strong sense of smell and because of that they tend to stay away from areas where there are strong scents that are off-putting to them. Citronella oil is one such scent that most cats find distasteful. Using a cat’s own senses against them is why using citronella oil as a cat deterrent works.

How to Make the Citronella Solution

Making the proper citronella oil solution is key to the success of using citronella oil as cat repellent, particularly if you are going to use the solution indoors. The Citronella solution should be 20 drops citronella oil diluted into 200ml of water or about one fourth citronella oil to water. This solution should be the proper strength for effective indoor and outdoor use.

Applying the Citronella Solution

When it comes time to apply the citronella oil solution that you have created, the best way to do it is to spray the solution onto the area that you want to repel the cats from. When spraying the solution outside you will need to spray the area regularly to account for any rain or other weather that may dilute the smell of the solution over time.

A few things to keep in mind is that you must first clean the area of any existing cat feces and other bathroom scents. Once you clean the area then you can apply the citronella oil solution and likely have much more success repelling the cats than you would if you don’t pre-clean the area in question.

Coffee Grounds

Kitty won’t think of your garden as a latrine anymore if you spread a pungent mixture of orange peels and used coffee grounds around your plants. The mix acts as great fertilizer too.

See more uses for Coffee Grounds.


Don’t throw out old mothballs. Scatter them around your gardens and flowerbeds to keep cats, dogs, and rodents away. Animals hate the smell!

See more uses for Mothballs.


Are the neighbor’s cats still mistaking your lawn for their litter box? Gently point them elsewhere by making a mixture of orange peels and coffee grounds and distributing it around the cats’ “old haunts.” If they don’t take the hint, lay down a second batch and try moistening it with a bit of water.

See more uses for Oranges.


Stop naughty cats and kittens from scratching your fine furniture! Sprinkle ground red pepper on a strip of tape and attach it to the areas you don’t want them to scratch. They hate the smell, and they’ll quickly get the message.

See more uses for Tape.


Some animals — including cats, deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the scent of vinegar even after it has dried. You can keep these unauthorized visitors out of your garden by soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar, and placing them on stakes around your veggies. Resoak the rags about every 7-10 days.

See more uses for Vinegar.

Keep your pets away from dangerous foods and drinks–find out if your kitten should really drink milk.

How to Live With Cats in Your Neighborhood


Now available in both Spanish and French!

What is a community cat?

Community cats, also called feral cats, are unowned cats who live outdoors. Like indoor cats, they belong to the domestic cat species (felis catus). However, community cats are generally not socialized, or friendly, to people, and are therefore unadoptable. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families, called colonies, in their outdoor homes.

Cats living outdoors is nothing new. It wasn’t until kitty litter was invented in the late 1940s that some cats began living strictly indoors. But community cats truly thrive in their outdoor homes. The tips in this brochure will help you coexist with community cats.

Why do I see community cats in my neighborhood?

Community cats live outdoors. Like all animals, community cats settle where food and shelter are available, and they are naturally skilled at finding these on their own.

Because they are unsocialized, community cats can’t live indoors with people, and are therefore unadoptable. Community cats should not be taken to animal shelters—nationwide, virtually 100 percent of community cats taken to shelters are killed there. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane, effective, and mainstream approach to addressing community cat populations.

What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

In a TNR program, community cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (the universal sign that a cat is part of a TNR program), and then returned to their outdoor homes. Kittens less than 8 weeks old can be socialized and then adopted. Adult cats who are socialized can be adopted, but they can also be returned outdoors, where they will continue to thrive.

TNR improves cats’ lives and provides an effective, humane, and collaborative way for communities to coexist with cats. To learn more, including how to conduct TNR, visit

What does the Vacuum Effect have to do with TNR?

The Vacuum Effect has been documented worldwide in many species, including community cats. Animal control’s typical approach has been to catch and kill community cats. While this may temporarily reduce the number of community cats in a given area, it is ultimately counterproductive, as the population of cats rebounds. Other cats move into the newly available territory and continue to breed—this phenomenon is called the Vacuum Effect. It’s why catch and kill doesn’t work. TNR is the only effective and humane approach to address community cat populations. Learn more at

What You Should Do If…

Cats are getting into your trash.

REASON: Cats are looking for food.

Quick Tips:

  • Secure your trash can with a tight lid or bungee cords. This will protect your trash from wildlife as well.
  • Find out if neighbors are feeding the cats. If they are, make sure they are following best practices. Learn more at
  • Consider feeding the cats yourself if you find no regular caregiver. Feeding cats using best practices will help ensure they don’t get hungry enough to get into trash.

Feeding stations provide cats with a designated area to eat. Find tips for building or buying feeding stations at

Cats are digging in your garden.

REASON: It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand.

Quick Tips:

  • Put out fragrances that keep cats away. Scatter fresh orange or lemon peels. Wet coffee grounds—which you may be able to get for free from coffee houses and fast food chains—and metal pans filled with vinegar also deter cats.
  • Make an outdoor litter box away from your garden by tilling the soil or placing sand in
    an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Clean the area frequently.
  • Use plastic carpet runners, spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at hardware or office supply stores. You can also set chicken wire firmly into the dirt (roll sharp edges under), arrange branches or sticks in a lattice pattern, or put wooden or plastic fencing over soil.
  • Get the Cat Scat Mat, a nonchemical cat deterrent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil (seen below). Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals but discourage digging.

    The Cat Scat Mat is a safe deterrent to use in your garden.

  • Get motion-activated sprinklers.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large river rocks to prevent cats from digging. Rocks have the added benefit of deterring weeds.

Cats are lounging in your yard or porch, or on your car.

REASON: Cats tend to remain close to their food source.

  • Shift the cats’ food source to a less central location, where you won’t mind if they hang out.
  • Apply fragrances that deter cats around the edges of your yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants. See “Cats are digging in your garden” for a list of cat-deterring fragrances.
  • Install an ultrasonic deterrent or a motion-activated sprinkler. You can find humane
    deterrent products at garden supply stores.
  • Use a car cover or place carpet runners on top of your car to avoid paw prints.

Cats are sleeping under your porch or in your shed.

REASON: The cats are looking for a dry, warm shelter away from the elements.

  • Provide covered shelter. Or, if the cats have a caregiver, ask the caregiver to provide covered shelter. Shelters should be placed in quiet areas away from traffic. Find tips to build or buy shelters at
  • Block or seal the area where the cats enter with chicken wire or lattice, but only once you are absolutely certain no cats or kittens are inside.

Feeding cats attracts insects and wildlife.

REASON: Leaving food out for too long can attract other animals.

  • Feed the cats at the same time and location each day. They should be given only enough food to finish in one sitting. If another person is caring for the cats, ask them to follow these guidelines. For more colony care guidelines, visit
  • Keep the feeding area neat and free of leftover food and trash.

Cats are yowling, fighting, spraying, roaming, and having kittens.

REASON: These are mating behaviors. Once the cats are spayed or neutered, these behaviors will stop.

  • Conduct TNR for the cats. TNR stops mating behaviors and ensures no new kittens are born.
  • Find more information about TNR at Get help from local community cat experts by requesting a list of Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network members in your area at

Please remember: Do not take community cats to animals shelters. They are feral—or unsocialized to people—and therefore unadoptable. This means virtually 100 percent of community cats taken to shelters are killed there. Instead, community cats should be neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor homes.

5 Easy Steps for Humanely Deterring Cats

  1. Talk to your neighbors. Determine whether the cats are pets, stray, or feral, and if they have been spayed or neutered. If not, make an appointment with a feral-friendly veterinarian and find tips for TNR at
  2. Apply nontoxic deterrents around your yard.
  3. Put a tight lid on your trash can.
  4. Block gaps in the foundation of sheds and porches.
  5. Use a cover to keep paw prints off your car.

These Are the 3 Smells Cats Hate, and You Probably Should, Too

When it comes to the battle of noses, dogs are often recognized as the champion. Well, we can’t dispute that given that their olfactory receptors reach up to a staggering 300 million. Nevertheless, our cats’ receptors, which average at 45 to 80 million, are still nothing to sniff at (wink wink). We humans only have a sad 5 million receptors after all.

So if you can smell a colleague’s shampoo or perfume during a short encounter, you can bet your whole fortune your cat can smell the dirty litter box or your perfume from a mile away…or at least from the next room.

What Kinds of Smells Do Cats Hate?

Now that we’ve established how keen our cats’ sense of smell is, let’s talk about the common smells cats hate. There are two good reasons you should know them:

  • It helps you avoid using scents that may continuously irritate or even negatively affect the health of your cat; and
  • It gives you options for natural repellents—to keep your cats away from certain things/parts of the house as well as drive away feral visitors that might engage your indoor buddies

You gotta agree; they come pretty handily. So, what are these three smells cats hate?

What Smells Do Cats Hate?

# Type of Smell Toxic?
1 Citrus No
2 Mint Yes
3 Wintergreen Yes
4 Menthol Yes
5 Rosemary No
6 Rue No
7 Cinnamon No
8 Lavender Yes


Citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and grapefruit have a very strong scent, which may feel like an assault to cats’ sensitive noses. Both their peels and juice can be potent deterrents, although there are a few cats that actually like having a taste of them.

Do Cats Like Mint, Wintergreen, and Menthol?

These have a more pungent smell (that’s the cat talking). With mint, you’d think that being in the same family as catnip will make cats look at it favorably. But no, they don’t like it. At all. While they have a cooling effect for us, especially in forms of candy, oil, and liniment, they are deemed abrasive by our cats. A small sniff will make them madly run and hide in a corner until you have properly stored away the source of the foul smell.

They’re also toxic when ingested, so my advice for this group is to avoid at all cost. If you rely on them frequently, at the very least, keep them safely stored when not in use.

Rosemary, Rue, Cinnamon, and Lavender

Often used for garden solutions, these herbs and spices are highly disliked by cats. Personally, I’m enamored with lavender, but I have since stopped using it due to two of my three fur babies giving me the stink eye whenever I did. You can use them as fresh plants, dried, or, depending on the plant, oil.

Be wary of using too much lavender, though, if you’re thinking of making it a deterrent. In oil form, it becomes toxic and has been known to cause liver damage and fatality. The same goes for cinnamon oil and pretty much all other essential/aromatic oils you may come across. Rue can be a hit or miss like citrus while rosemary only thrives in warm weathers, so you might have to skip it if you leave in a wet and cold area.

To be perfectly honest, there’s a horde more of smells that cats hate. However, the three groups we shared with you always top the list.

Now tell us, what kinds of smells does your cat hate? Is it any of the three we listed above or something else? Make sure to share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

Living with Feral Cats in Your Neighborhood

Feral cats are members of the domestic cat species, but are not socialized to humans and are therefore not adoptable. Because feral cats are not socialized and not adoptable, they will most likely be euthanized at a shelter or pound.

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only proven method for reducing the feral cat population. Feral cats have been living outdoors near humans for more than 10,000 years. We understand that not everyone enjoys having cats in their yards, and these simple tips will help you discourage feral cats from taking up residence on your property.

Easy Solutions to Cat Behaviors

Cats are getting into my trash cans.

Cats are scavengers and are looking for food.


  • Place a tight lid on your trash can. Exposed trash bags will attract wildlife as well.
  • See if neighbors are feeding the cats. If they are, make sure they are doing it on a regular schedule.
  • Start feeding the cats yourself but remember to keep them on a regular feeding schedule, don’t leave food out for more than 30 minutes, and place feeders off the ground and in location that will not disturb neighbors. Feeding cats regularly and in reasonable quantities, will help ensure they don’t get hungry and turn to the trash.

There are cat paw prints and/or scratches on my car.

Cats like to perch on high ground.


  • Move cats’ feeding stations away from neighbors’ properties to discourage cats from climbing on cars or other private property.
  • Purchase a car cover. Or place plastic carpet runners spike side up on cars. This will not hurt the cat but will make the cat uncomfortable and it will not want to sit on the car

Cats are digging in my garden

It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig and use the restroom in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand.


  • Scatter fresh grounded orange and lemon peels or spray the area with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus also deter cats.
  • Cats will only go the restroom where they can dig. By placing chicken wire with the sharp side facing down, lattice fencing, or river rocks over the soil will keep feral cats from using your garden as a litter box. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings. You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart, this will act as an obstacle and deter cats from this area.
  • Establish a litter box by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Make sure to keep it clean and free of deposits.

Cats are lounging in my yard or on my porch.

Cats are territorial and will remain close to their food source. Ensuring that cats are neutered will dramatically reduce their tendency to roam and keep them from unwanted areas.


  • Apply cat repellent liberally around the edges of the yard, on the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants. This can be bought at most animal supply companies.
  • Install and a motion-activated water sprinklers, this will not only keep cats from hanging out in your yard but it will also help to maintain your lawn.
  • Make sure your not unintentionally providing a food source or shelter for the cats. Keep your yard clean, make sure there is a tight lid on your garbage, and do not feed household pets outdoors.

Cats are sleeping under my porch or in my shed.

The cats are looking for dry, warm shelter away from the elements.


  • Once you have located the area in which the cats are making entry make sure to look for any remaining cats or kittens before sealing off the area.
  • Use lights and a radio to make the cat uncomfortable to they will move out on their own.
  • Also use scents such as coffee grounds, citrus peels, and ammonia to deter any cats from making new homes on your property.

Cats are killing birds.

Being predatory animals, feral cats may occasionally kill birds. However, the real cause for the decline in the bird population is the loss of habitat, urbanization, pollution and environmental degradation. Researchers estimate that in the U.S. alone, nearly 100 million birds die from collisions with windows and buildings every year, eighty million birds die from collisions with automobiles, and another 67 million from exposure to pesticides on crops. These figures do not even take into account the millions that perish due to pesticides used on golf courses, lawns, and gardens.


Place all bird feeds high off the ground in areas where cats cannot climb to reach it or hide around it. Try limiting the amount of seeds that fall on the ground by using liquid bird food, putting smaller amount of seeds in feeders, or by purchasing cat resistant bird feeders.

These are all mating behaviors displayed by cats that have not been spayed or neutered.


The most effective way to eliminate these behaviors is by having the feral cat spayed or neutered. These behaviors are driven by the cats’ sexual hormones once the cat is sterilized usually within three weeks these behaviors are eliminated.

Are you tired of the neighborhood cats using your flower beds as their litter box? Need a safe, but effective way to protect certain areas of your home from indoor cats? Whether it’s indoor or outdoor cats causing your problems we have a natural cat repellent for every situation.

Using homemade cat repellent offers a cat lover several natural and nontoxic methods to keep cats out of areas you deem off-limits. These natural home remedies won’t harm outdoor or indoor cats; they merely discourage them from returning.

1. DIY Cat Repellent Spray

Sometimes you need to keep a spray handy to deter cats from going where they shouldn’t. This DIY cat repellent spray discourages cats from returning to areas as it neutralizes the smells there. It’s important to note that before spraying on furniture you should test the spray on a small piece of fabric to ensure it doesn’t leave behind a stain.

Recipe for Indoor Cat Repellent Spray

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water

Combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. Pour mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the natural cat repellent on furniture or areas where you wish to prevent your cat from going.

Lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, or citronella oil can be used in place of the apple cider vinegar. All four of these essential oils make an excellent cat repellent. To substitute one of the essential oils mix 1 part oil to 3 parts water.

2. Tap Water Works

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.

Consistency is vital with this homemade cat deterrent. One or two squirts should do the trick when training cats. If you are out in the yard, you could also spray the cat with the water hose. The force of the water alone should be enough to keep cats away.

3. Keep Cats Off Furniture and Countertops

Using aluminum foil or sandpaper helps keep your cat off furniture and countertops. Both of these options make the surface of these items uncomfortable to walk on.

Aluminum foil, sandpaper, and double-sided tape work as a natural cat repellent as they are unpleasant on your cat’s paws. Carpet runners flipped upside down also work to keep cats out of specific rooms.

4. String

String makes an excellent homemade cat repellent when appropriately used. Placing the line along the top of your wood or vinyl fence makes the fence uncomfortable for the cat to walk along or cross. Oil applied to the top of wire fences makes another great deterrent.

5. Motion Activated Sprinkler

One of the ways to keep cats out of your yard is with a motion activated sprinkler. 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.

6. Ground Covers to Prevent Cats

The last thing anybody wants is cat poop in their flower garden from stray cats. To keep cats out of your flower garden spread out mulch, pine cones, or gravel as cats will not walk on them due to their texture. Coffee grounds mixed with citrus peels works as well.

7. Plants as a Natural Cat Repellent

Certain plants when planted around your garden beds work as a repellent for cats because of their smell. Plants you can plant include Coleus canina, rue, or lavender. These plants can be along the border of your flower beds or intermixed throughout your garden.

8. Citrus Scented Cat Repellent

Kitties have better-smelling abilities than humans, which makes them much more sensitive to strong scents, especially citrus based fragrances. Using citrus essential oils, such as orange, citronella, or lemongrass, repel cats naturally in indoor and outdoor areas.

Mix three parts water to one part oil and shake well. Spray the areas you want your cats to avoid.

Cotton balls soaked in essential oils can also be placed in the areas you want to keep off limits. Never spray essential oils directly onto your cat, as the oils can be harmful when absorbed through their skin.

9. Vinegar Cat Repellent

Vinegar cat repellent works both indoors and out to keep unwanted kitties away. The repellent can be sprayed directly on the area, or the spray can be applied to a cloth and wiped onto specific spots.

Recipe for Vinegar Cat Repellent

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Dish Soap

Inside a spray bottle mix together one part white vinegar and one part water. Swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients.

Add one squirt of dish soap to the spray bottle. Close the spray bottle and shake well to combine the dish soap with the vinegar and water.

10. Orange Peel Cat Repellent

Cats strongly dislike any citrus scents. This recipe calls for orange peel, but any combination of lemon, lime, orange, or tangerine peels will work.

Orange Peel Cat Repellent Recipe

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Lemon scented dish soap

Pour two cups water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup orange peel and lower the heat. Allow water and orange peel to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Pour mixture into a spray bottle, removing any large pieces of peel that will not fit into the container.

Add two squirts of dish soap and lemon juice. Shake well to ensure all ingredients are combined.

11. Garlic. Lemon, Pepper Cat Repellent Spray

This homemade cat repellent is safe to use on both outdoor and indoor plants. For different pleasing scents, you can substitute grapefruit, lime, or wild orange essential oil in place of the lemon. Black pepper can also be used instead of cayenne pepper.

Recipe for Homemade Cat Repellent Spray

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 drops lemon essential oil
  • Water

Inside a 2-ounce spray bottle add cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and dry mustard. Add in garlic clove and lemon essential oil.

Gently swish the ingredients inside to combine. Fill with water and shake well to blend all ingredients.

12. Simple Citrus Cat Repellent

Use equal parts orange juice and water to create a simple homemade cat repellent. Spray along windows, outdoor furniture, etc. to keep cats away. Orange juice, along with other citrus juices, can bleach fabrics so use with caution.

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