what is a cat repellent

Cats are often unwanted visitors in your garden and possibly even lawn, depending on the reason for their visit. Stray cats or outdoor neighbourhood cats often enjoy using the soft soil in gardens as a litter box. Cats may also disrupt your flower beds, eat your vegetables, mate, and attack birds, so it’s no surprise gardeners, and homeowners find themselves looking for cat repeller products.

Fortunately, there are several products you can use to try and rid your garden and lawn of unwanted cats and garden wildlife that has become a nuisance. So, what is a cat repellent? This article aims to answer this question by examining the different types of options available as well as exploring what attracts cats to specific places and some common DIY methods you can try on your outside lawn and garden area.

Cat Repellent Defined

Simply put, the term cat repellent can refer to anything that can deter cats from a specific area.

Considering the heightened agility of cats and their uncanny ability to climb, something as simple as installing a fence will not work to deter cats as it would with other common pets and some select wildlife. In fact, a fence can often attract cats to an area because it provides them with a high vantage point where they can monitor their surroundings with ease.

There is a wide variety of cat repellent products that include ultrasonic noises with flashing lights, sprays, and even DIY recipes that many people have found to be quite effective.

As an added bonus, many cat repellents also work as a deterrent against other animals, pets, and wildlife that can become a nuisance as well.

Different Types of Cat Repellent

The most common types of cat deterrents can be grouped into six basic categories. Most categories contain several products or things that may be able to help you keep your garden and outdoor areas free from unwanted animals.

Sound Repellents

Cats have an exceptional sense of hearing and can hear noises at a much higher frequency than people can. This means that sound can be used as an effective method to deter cats from using your garden and other outdoor areas for any disruptive behaviour.

Electronic Devices

An electronic cat repellent device, like Pestbye, uses motion-activated, high-frequency noises and flashing lights to scare cats out of your garden. When a cat enters your garden and crosses paths with the ultrasonic cat repellent device, it starts to emit an unpleasant sound that is not heard by humans and also flashes bright lights.

This method is highly effective, relatively inexpensive, and the devices are easy to install as well. Simply stick the metal tines into the ground, and you are all set. You may want to try using more than one device for larger garden spaces to achieve the best results.

Aluminium Foil

Aluminium foil can also make a sound that cats find unpleasant. Placing one or two sheets of aluminium foil strategically around your garden area can create a rustling sound when it is windy that cats will stay away from. This method is not as effective as a motion-activated device. Still, chances are you already have some aluminium foil in your home that you can start experimenting with right away.

Odour Repellents

Cats also have an excellent sense of smell and are highly sensitive to odours that they find offensive, just like people. They are also drawn to odours they like and use their sense of smell for survival and mating purposes.

With this in mind, if you can add a smell that cats find offensive to a specific area, it can work relatively well as a deterrent. However, you may have to reapply more frequently than some of the other methods, especially if you have a lot of wet weather that can dilute the offensive odours.

Commercial Spray and Powder Products

There are many different commercial items that are designed to deter cats. Some come as sprays and others powder, but they all target a cat’s sense of smell. Many of these commercial products contain the scent of predator animals that cats are known to fear, such as a bobcat, fox, or coyote. This type of product should not damage your plants and is non-toxic.


Adding certain plants to your garden that cats are adverse to can work as a natural repellent. Some plants can also work to deter other types of unwanted garden wildlife.

Common plants cats dislike:

  • Coleus Canina, known as the scaredy-cat plant because of how much cats hate its smell. It can also be used to deter dogs from your garden.
  • Lavender. It is also known to be a good deterrent for deers.
  • Rue
  • Pennyroyal

Other Natural Odours That Cats Find Offensive

There are also a variety of other odours that cats will avoid when possible. Try sprinkling these items and scents throughout your garden to keep cats away.

Scents cats avoid:

  • Citrus peels from lemons, grapefruits, limes, and oranges
  • Coffee grounds
  • Loose tobacco
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Essential Oils: lemongrass, eucalyptus, citronella, and other types of citrus essential oil. These oils are great options for indoor use on furniture. They can also be a great alternative for outdoor use.
  • Mothballs. They are not our favourite on the list of items because the odour is often unpleasant for humans too.

Water Repellents

Most of us probably already know that cats tend to hate water. This is another thing you can use to your advantage in deterring cats and other wildlife in your garden areas.

One way to employ this method is by using a high powered water gun to spray your cats when they go into your garden. Often, this method can work as a training method, but it requires diligence and a watchful eye which can be time-consuming.

Motion Activated Sprinklers

A more convenient way to deter cats from using water involves installing a motion-activated sprinkler near your garden. This method is usually fairly effective, but this type of product is not very inexpensive, and you may want to try out a few of the other methods before opting to use this one.

Physical Repellents

Physical cat repellents come in the form of barriers. These methods vary in effectiveness because, as we briefly mentioned before, cats are agile and can easily climb things making it easier for them to manoeuvre around difficult terrain. However, this method can also be effective at deterring other forms of garden wildlife, including aggressive birds.

Chicken Wire

Laying chicken wire over the top of your flower beds and garden before planting can help to keep cats out as they strongly dislike material that is scratchy or bristly. Simply cut holes out of the wire where you want to plant new items in your garden.

Mulch and Clippings

Sometimes something as simple as mulch can keep cats away, or at the very least prevent them from using your garden as a bathroom. If you don’t already, cover your garden and beds of flowers with a dense layer of mulch. Pine cones and holly branch clippings work really well as mulch items that actively deter cats.

Plastic Forks

For peskier cats that don’t seem to get the hint, some people use plastic forks to keep unwanted intruder cats and animals out of their garden. Simply push the handles of the forks into the soil enough so that they become sturdy while leaving the tines pointing up. It can work as a miniature fence barrier around your garden that cats will avoid. While this isn’t the most eye-catching option, it has a relatively strong success rate and can be executed for almost no money at all.


When all else fails, dogs are a trusted and true form of cat repellent for your garden and lawn that works almost every time without fail. We don’t recommend letting your dogs actively attack cats or any other kind of animal within your fence but often, simply having one in the area can be the best form of cat scarer around.

Cat Repellent FAQs

What Is the Most Effective Cat Repellent?

The most effective type of cat or wildlife repellent for your home may take some experimentation to find. Seeing as how all cats are different, some cats will respond better to one form of repellent than another. We recommend testing a few different methods to find what works best for your specific circumstances.

Whether or not a cat is feral or, a pet may also affect how they react to certain types of repellent. Feral cats may be more used to nature and easily scare when it comes to noises and lights. At the same time, a pet cat may respond better to physical barriers or motion-activated deterrents.

The best type of cat repellent also depends on whether you are trying to keep cats away from areas indoors or outdoors in your garden. As you have seen, some cat deterrents are not for indoor use, and some are not for outdoor use.

What Types of Things Attract Cats to Specific Areas in Your Garden?

Aside from the presence of soft soil, which we discussed above, there are several other things that can attract cats to your garden and outdoor areas.

The first being appetising aromas emitted by human foods. If you eat outside on a patio or in your yard, always make sure to clean up any remnants of your meal when you are done.

Second, if you use an outdoor grill for cooking meats and other food items, always clean the cooking surface and surrounding areas after every use.

Lastly, leftover food and other garbage smells can attract cats and a variety of other wildlife. Use trash bins with secure lids to prevent any animals from breaking in and digging through your rubbish before it is picked up.

Cat Repellent and Your Home

No homeowners or renters with a lawn want a cat or pet to use their garden as a litter box, or worse. Hence the prevalence of different types of cat deterrent methods. Now that you have the answer to your original question, ‘what is a cat repellent’, which one of the methods will you try out first in your garden area? Will you try something more attuned to nature like plants and odour barriers which can cost less money? Or, would you rather start by using a spray or one of the many ultrasonic sound devices available on the market today? Either way, with any luck, your garden will be free from cats and other pests in no time at all.

Let us know what route you chose to restore order in your garden, your experience, and what you think about our ideas in the comments below!

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