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  • Writer's pictureChris Jackson

How To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden?

Four Season Garden Maintenance

How To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden?

Chris Jackson fully qualified Bradford gardener has an aviary on his allotment where he keeps his fancy pigeons. He has lost a few birds down to the local cats spooking and prowling around the aviary. But it's not just about keeping the pigeons safe, it's the ever decreasing wild garden birds too.

As a gardener you never like to find the smelly parcels the cats leave in the borders and hedges so we are looking for deterrents and solutions. But the main concern is to keep our bird population safe.

There are many factors to why we lose garden birds for instance our neighbours children were playing football and their ball hit our nest box where we had Blue Tits nesting for the first time and the parents abandoned the nest box and all the chicks died.

What are we up against?

According to the latest 2018 PAW Report on the PDSA website ( which was produced in conjunction with YouGov, one of the UK’s leading research companies, 25% of the UK adult population have a cat with an estimated population of 11.1 million pet cats. suggest some of the following solutions:

Plant potent-smelling


Cats do not like certain plants, and will stay away from them.

Planting them will make the entire area seem disgusting to the local feline population.

Try cultivating one or more of these plants near your garden, interspersed among your garden plants, or in other areas of your yard that you do not want cats to disturb:

  • Lavender

  • Rue

  • Geranium

  • Absinthe

  • Lemon thyme

  • Thorny roses

  • Coleus canina, also known as “Scaredy Cat Plant”

Use dried herbs or scented oils.

If you do not want to plant herbs or other plants that cats cannot stand, you could scatter dried versions or sprinkle essential oils derived from these plants around your garden for the same effect.

Dried rue and lavender are available online or in some garden supply stores.

Essential oils of lavender, lemon grass, citronella, citrus, and eucalyptus can be found in some supermarkets or health and beauty stores.

You can also try rubbing essential oils on the edges of containers that you have plants in.

If you cannot find these herbs or oils, you can achieve a similar effect by sprinkling cayenne pepper in the same way that you would dried herbs.

Scatter citrus peels around the garden.

Most cats hate the smell of citrus. A quick and easy fix is to scatter fresh or dried peels of lemons, oranges, grapefruits or other citrus fruits over the soil of your garden.

The cats will not suffer any harm, but the smell will cause them to seek a more appealing area.

Try coffee grounds or pipe tobacco.

Much like citrus, the smells of coffee and tobacco are disgusting to most cats.

Simply scatter a thin layer of coffee grounds or tobacco directly onto the soil.

However, keep in mind that coffee grounds are toxic to cats and dogs.

Spray a commercial repellent containing predator urine.

Cat deterrent sprays are available at many garden supply stores. Look for a “natural” one that contains an ingredient like the urine of foxes or other predatory animals.

These products contain natural ingredients that may deter other animals such as squirrels and rabbits.

Always follow the instructions for use very carefully.

Strange! Never heard this one!

Spread batches of your own hair around the garden.

In theory, many feral cats do not favour the scent of human hair. As a result, you may be able to keep neighbourhood strays away by laying batches of your hair around your garden.

Pull the hair from your hairbrushes, and combs, or ask your barber to save hair for you. Lay the strands in bunches around the perimeter of your garden.

This method may not deter domesticated cats (including your own) that are used to the scent of human hair.

Wash any cat scents away.

If a cat has already marked its territory in your garden, you might need to wash its scent away before it will consider going anywhere else.

Spraying or pouring ordinary white vinegar around an area that a cat has attempted to “claim” can discourage it from using that spot again.

Use a motion-activated sprinkler.

Motion-activated sprinklers are available from garden centres. When a cat walks by, the motion triggers the sprinkler, which sprays a burst of water.

Most cats do not like getting wet, so this can often be an effective deterrent. Use motion-activated sprinklers to create a border around your garden.

These sprinklers can be installed either permanently or temporarily, depending on your preference and needs.

Use an ultrasonic device to deter cats.

These emit a high-frequency sound that cats detest, but which humans cannot hear. These devices are motion-activated, so that when a cat walks by, it is startled by the high-frequency sound and should leave the area.

Look for ultrasonic devices at a pet shop or garden centre, and use them to create a barrier around your garden.

Make a cat sandbox.

You can create an alternative outdoor litter box for cats by using a new or old sandbox that is at least as big as a large litter box.

Fill it with soft, fine-grained sand (this can be bought by the bag at garden centres and builders merchants), which cats find especially attractive.

With luck, cats will be drawn to the sandbox instead of your garden and use it much as they would a litterbox.

Make sure to scoop the sandbox regularly; if it gets too full, cats may return to using your borders and beds.

Keep children away from the cat sandbox, and make sure they understand not to play in it.

Attract cats to a cat garden.

If you want to keep cats out of your garden, but don’t mind them being in other areas of your yard, then try making a cat-friendly area.

Cats will be attracted to areas covered by certain plants, and hopefully leave the rest of your garden alone. Create a small plot and grow one or more of the following non-toxic plants in it:

  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

  • Catmint (Nepeta mussinii)

  • Cat thyme (Teucrium marum)

  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

  • Spider-plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

If you have found an effective solution of your own, please be sure to share it with us!

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