Whether you are dealing with your cats, feral cats, or just neighborhood ones, knowing how to deter cats is essential. Nobody sets out wanting to harm cats, so by understanding which cat deterrent methods work and which ones don’t, you can keep cats away from certain areas of your home or out of your yard.
What cat deterrent methods you decide to employ depends on where you are having a problem, but there is something out there for every situation. Cats have some fantastic abilities; they can jump and climb on just about anything. With how well cats can jump and climb, you might think keeping them out of specific areas is impossible, but despite their abilities, there are a few things you can do.
Cats are naturally curious creatures; your cats may explore areas to see what they are all about, or they might be trying to tell other cats to stay out. Feral and stray cats may just be looking for a place to live, which means turning your garden into their litter box.
No matter the problem, we are here to teach you how to deter cats safely and effectively. Something to think about when using these various home remedies is that some cats are more persistent than others. Change up your tactics every so often to help keep cats on their “toes.”
Ten Best Ways To Deter Stray Cats
1. Covering Surfaces as an Indoor Cat Deterrent
If there are specific surfaces inside your home that you wish your indoor cats to stay off, a quick but effective technique is covering the surfaces with something cats find undesirable. Aluminum foil, both the texture and the sound it makes as cats walk on it, keeps cats off, plus it’s easy to remove when you want to uncover the surface.
You can also use various scents on small pieces of foil placed in a room to help keep cats away. Others report success when using masking or duct tape on the arms of couches and chairs or pillows.
2. How to Deter Cats with Scents
One way to keep cats off counters and other smooth surfaces is through citrus-scented sprays or cleaners. Make cat repellent sprays out of three parts water to one part essential oil or you can purchase commercial cat repellents. Aside from citrus scents, some of the best essential oils to use in homemade sprays include lemongrass, coleus, and lavender.
You can also place some lavender or citrus peels inside small bowls among your shelves to keep cats away from fragile items. We discourage using commercial cat repellent indoors as it is made from fox urine or urine of a different cat predator.
You can also use scents to repel cats outdoors. Some people use mothballs around the garden beds to deter cats. Others have found blood meal fertilizer and citrus peels work to keep cats at bay, as they find the smells revolting.
Cayenne pepper flakes also keep cats away, but it will sting their paws. Cat owners might want to avoid this tactic as it can “hurt” your pet.
3. Provide Alternate Spaces to Deter Cats
Whether it’s in your home or outside in your yard, create cat-friendly spaces to help keep cats off furniture and out of the garden beds. Indoors, provide cats with scratching posts to use rather than your furniture. Position your furniture in ways to prevent cats from jumping and climbing to higher areas that you deem off-limits.
Nobody wants to go out to their garden and discover cat poop. Keeping cats from turning your flower beds into their litter box requires you to create an area that they can use. Planting catnip on the other side of the forbidden area and allowing the grass in that area to grow taller than other areas will pull cats in, as it entices them and provides cover for stalking and hunting behaviors.
To keep cats from urinating all over the yard, consider adding a sandbox for them to use as a litter box. Keep it clean to encourage them to use it consistently. Having cats in your yard is a great way to keep birds away.
4. Best Plants that Deter Cats
One of the greatest things about using plants that deter cats is they beautify your yard while they are doing their job. There are several plants cats in garden beds will find unpleasant, mainly it’s the scent that drives them away. Rue is one of the best border plants, plus in the fall you can harvest it, then dry it, to use as a cat deterrent in homemade sprays or to sprinkle around your garden next spring.
Coleus canina, also known as Scaredy Cat plant, not only keeps cats away; it is also effective at keeping dogs out of your flower beds. Other plants you may have success with due to their scent are citronella, lavender, lemon thyme, pennyroyal, and geraniums.
5. Outdoor Cat Deterrent Mulches
What repels cats in many garden beds are various types of mulches, but not your store-bought garden variety mulch. Mulching your landscape with pine cones, eggshells, or small stone mulch creates an unpleasant walking surface for cats’ sensitive paws.
In between plants, around bird feeders, or any other place outside you want to steer cats away from, try sprinkling coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, or even citrus fruit peels. Not only do most of these types of mulches keep cats out, but they also help repair your soil thanks to their nitrogen-fixing abilities.
6. Best Indoor Cat Deterrent Spray
Sometimes, your cat deterrent methods may not work. Rather than continuing to use the same techniques with minimal to no results, try using an indoor cat repellent spray to train your cat to stay away from the area. These sprays work to neutralize odors, making it far less appealing to your cat.
Inside a spray bottle, add apple cider vinegar and water in equal amounts. Shake bottle to mix ingredients. Spray areas you want to keep cats away.
Before spraying on fabrics, test a small square first for any discoloration. If you wish to make an outdoor cat repellent spray, we recommend using peppermint oil rather than apple cider vinegar.
Make the spray by mixing one part oil to three parts water. Spray the off-limit areas as needed. Outdoor conditions affect how often you need to spray your furniture or forbidden areas.
7. Natural Cat Deterrent to Protect your Yard
If you have new plants, the last thing you want is cats going in and digging up everything. Try using several different methods to protect your new plants and to stop cats from digging.
You can lay down chicken wire before you start planting or in between rows of plants to repel cats. If using before planting, cut holes in the chicken wire large enough to fit your plants. Once you have laid the chicken wire, use garden spikes or rocks to anchor it in place.
Cover the wire with soil and watch how quickly you get rid of cats, as they hate walking on the wire. Large areas of exposed dirt are inviting to cats, whether they are digging or rolling in it. For smaller areas, add a handful of river rocks to prevent cats from digging and rolling.
For larger areas, plastic carpet runners work best to deter cats. Cut the runners to size and shape you need, place them upside down, so the plastic nubs are facing up, and cover with a light layer of soil. The nubs are uncomfortable to walk on, but won’t hurt the cats.
8. Tips on How to Deter Cats with Water
To keep feral and neighborhood cats out of your yard, set up motion-activated sprinklers throughout your yard, as almost all cats dislike water. Place sprinklers at the most common entry points, as well as other areas.
You want to get the maximum coverage possible to keep the cats out. Change the location of the sprinklers every few days, as cats are smart creatures and will figure out the pattern.
9. Deter Cats by Removing Food Sources
Many times cats come into your yard looking for food or water sources. If they keep returning to your yard, that means they found some food source. One of the best natural cat repellents is removing any food or water source.
Don’t leave pet food out where stray animals can get it. If you feed pets outdoors, clean up spilled food and remove bowls each night.
Double-check trash cans to ensure they are tightly closed. Don’t pile garbage up alongside the trash can or around the house, as that can attract mice, which in turn attracts cats.
10. Help Control the Cat Population
Feral cats can quickly take over a neighborhood if left unchecked. The ASPCA has started a new program called Trap, Neuter, and Return.
With this program, you can work with your local animal control division to humanely trap feral and stray cats to have them spayed or neutered. Once the cats are fixed, they are released back into the same neighborhood, but will no longer have the ability to reproduce.
Thank you for taking some time to read about our cat deterrent ideas and tips. If you found one or more of those cat deterrent methods useful, please take a moment to share with others on Facebook and Pinterest so they can learn how to deter cats, too.