How to Stop Cats From Coming Into Your Garden

Updated on February 25, 2018
DoloresHerriot profile image

Dolores has recently moved to a new home with a large garden and lots of neighbourhood cats.

Last year we bought a house with a large back garden. We don't have any pets ourselves, but the previous owners had cats. I think every cat in the neighbourhood used to hang out in our garden until we said enough was enough. We have a young daughter, and I don't want to stop her playing in our garden as she gets older because of cat mess. Cat faeces can be highly toxic to children and pregnant women.

Another issue is that they scare/kill wildlife, especially birds. I decided to research ways in which other people stop cats from coming into their gardens. Gardening forums were very useful, but the best source of information by far was my father, who has grown flowers, fruit and vegetables for years. He has tried many of these solutions because, in his opinion, all cats are different and some methods work better on different cats than others. This article rounds up and explains the various methods most often used by people.

What Are the Solutions?

Spray With Water

Cats don't like to get wet. Keep a water pistol filled with water nearby when you are in the garden or by your back door . When you see a cat come into your garden, aim and fire. Some people reckon that after experiencing this a few times, cats will think twice about trespassing. It’s harmless, but as we all know, a bit time consuming. If a lot of cats visit your garden, then this solution might not be as effective as others.

If you live in a dry climate and use a sprinkler system, you will probably find that cats are not really a nuisance you have to deal with.

Citrus Peel/ Coffee Grounds/ White Pepper

You will probably have these in your home. People have achieved a degree of success with these. Simply disperse them around the perimeter of your garden or where needed. If you require more coffee grounds you can obtain more from local coffee shops for free. It is believed that cats don’t like the smell and will go elsewhere. every few weeks or so you should replace the peel, coffee grounds or white pepper to maintain the effect.

Deterrent Plants

There are many plants that can be used to deter cats. This is more of a long term solution and will take a bit of effort. They are especially useful if you want to keep cats away from a vegetable patch. Planting citronella, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and chives among your vegetables will prevent cats from using your vegetable patch as a toilet.

These plants have the added bonus of other uses. Lavender is very attractive to bees which we all know need all the help they can get. It also smells divine. Chives, peppermint and rosemary are of course edible and citronella is also used in insect repellents. They are a good long term solution.

I have also heard of a plant called scaredy cat, officially known as plectranthus caninus (coleus canina). Its deterrent value lies in the fact that it smells of dog urine but do you really want your garden to smell like that? From what I have read it doesn't appear to work on all cats either.

Lavender is useful as a cat deterrent.
Lavender is useful as a cat deterrent.

Physical Barriers

Cats hate having to weave through an obstacle course. Many people believe that placing objects in the garden will annoy them and prevent them from returning. Some suggestions include using plastic cutlery sticking up from the ground because they don’t like the sharpness. However they will make your garden look untidy. You can also use twigs, wooden cutlery or pine cones. Pine cones can change the acidity of the soil so take care not to use them around plants that require more alkaline soil.

If you grow fruit and vegetables or want to protect young plants, netting the area is a good idea

Reflective Objects

Cats (and dogs) don’t like seeing their reflection so some people use different items to scare them away. You can hang CDs around areas you don't want cats to trespass on and the reflective mirror is supposed to help send them on their way. Some people fill old plastic bottles with water and leave them around the garden. As with the plastic cutlery solution, this can make your garden look untidy.

Deterrent Sprays

It is easy to make your own non-toxic cat repellent spray from products widely available from garden centres and online. In a spray bottle mix one part apple cider vinegar to one part water. Spray liberally around your garden. Respray every couple of weeks or after a rain shower. This can become tedious if you live in a climate where rain is more usual than not.You can also use citronella essential oil instead of apple cider vinegar. Use three parts water to one part citronella for this recipe. You can also buy commercially produced cat deterrent sprays online or in garden centres.


A large dog, or even a small dog with a big bark, will send most cats running for the hills. Though I must admit to meeting a few cats who can really hold their own against our canine friends. We always had dogs when I was growing up and I don't remember many cats coming into our garden uninvited. Unfortunately, we don't have room in our lives for a dog at the moment so I can't tell how effective they would be.

What do you do to stop cats coming into your garden?

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Spray Bottle To Make Repellent Spray

I hope this article has been useful for those of you who have problems with cats urinating and defecating in your garden. If you have any other suggestions or comments please feel free to let me know. Happy gardening!!!

© 2018 DoloresHerriot


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    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 3 weeks ago from United States

      A cat has been coming in our garden lately to stalk to birds at the feeders. I'll have to try some of your suggestions. Thanks!