Plants that repel cats

drayvenFebruary 13, 2009

I hope this is the right forum to ask this in but I couldn't really find one that exactly matched my question.

I am starting a new garden and I have a bit a problem with stray cats coming into my yard.

I have read about "cat repellants" and "scare crows" that fire water at them but I also have heard that certain flowers or herbs will do the job as well.

What types of plants can I put in my garden that will keep the stray cats away?

Any other suggestions would be also be gladly welcomed.

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Every so often, this question pops up on the "New to Gardening" forum. The sum of all the posts seems to be... no, there aren't any particular plants other than cacti to repel or discourage cats from visiting your flower beds.

Keep in mind, the cats are interested in your beds for their own reasons... location [a hiding place to watch people or birds], or for use as a sandbox, or because they like the smell of whatever is planted, or sometimes the flowerbed is simply on part of their route from point A to point B. Each category has a more or less workable solution.

If you don't mind the furry birdwatchers, place a slightly raised flat stone or paver [12" square] where it isn't obvious to passersby. Most cats would rather sit in comfort than step on and squiggle through the plants... unless the plants are in the catnip family. I had one cat who apparently adored marigolds, snuggling up to them in preference even to catnip; another was a secret rosarian, liking to poke her head into the open blooms and willing to climb any sort of wavery branch to get to them. The only way to discourage a feline flower-lover is to not plant the preferred flower.

However, most people are most put off by sandboxing. And this subject is a prime example of where human ingenuity is baffled, or at least totally ignored, by cats. Orange peels, soaps, stinky sprays, pepper, and assorted scented objects are sold in abundance, but very few have found them effective for any length of time. Citrus products deter some cats, sometimes. A thick mulch of shredded leaves is often an effective deterrent since cats seem to prefer scooping holes in dirt or sand or even fine gravel. OTOH, if the choice is between your nice mulch or rock-hard dirt, the mulch will win the bathroom priviledges every time. Interestingly, landscape fabric is not a deterrent even if left bare on top of the soil... the cat will poop and attempt to cover (after all, even when covered, the smell of soil indicates its presence) and then go off leaving the offense for you to find. More effective are the various commercial blocks which have pointed plastic prongs poking up... no cat is going to walk over the prongs when there are other places prong-free. (one type is available at Gardeners Supply) In the same category is to collect the thorny branches of rose prunings and then place them around the bedding plants; same theory -- cats don't like to walk on pointed objects. Another method uses a motion-sensor water spray... and they DO work, but the gadgets are very expensive!

And, if the problem is a cat trail through your flower bed, you can move plants into the way, but most cats will simply adjust their path around the obstacles. Which leaves you the choice of using prong-products or putting down miniature stepping stones.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 7:44AM
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well I have catnip all over our gardens and that is how we discovered our current kitty supply, her friend was rolling in our catnip when he wandered into our lives and she followed..they also LOVE Kiwi..and will destroy young kiwi if not well protected from them.

hmmmm repel cats..cats are the heirachy of the entire world...they run the world..they would probably have a computer site on how to repel humans if we knew where to look. they have taught us how to feed and care for them and even allow them to poop in our homes..go figure..good luck.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Bre, you took the words right out of my keyboard!
To add: Cats are not domesticated pets, they are Independent Contractors.
Knowing what works and what doesn't, if one could entice cats into the garden, telling them one wants them there, they will stay away LOL
Sorry, drayven, we are really no help, are we?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:51PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

The only thing I have seen that might work are plastic mats called "Cat Scat." They are mats that have flexible plastic spikes that stick up and repel cats without hurting them. Here's the link:,default,pd.html

I don't know if that will help or not. You would need a lot to cover a large garden, but maybe if placed in strategic areas, they might discourage cats from the whole garden.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 3:12PM
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drayven there maybe something I can put on my wooden fence or do to it to keep them from climbing it or dissuading them from using it to get from point A to point B?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 10:23PM
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Dissuade a cat from climbing? I think that falls into the same category as telling the wind to stop blowing! lol

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:34AM
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I was thinking maybe nailing a shelf of some sort into the fence to keep it from running up it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 6:21PM
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andie_rathbone(Tyler, TX - 7B)

Keep a cat from doing anything it really wants to do? Not possible. It's easier to plant things that the cats can't destroy.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:59AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I read one solution -- apparently to prevent cats from using fence-tops for highways -- was to string electric wire such as is used for dog fences. Apparently it just gives an annoying buzz and is considered harmless. I'm not sure just how I feel about that.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 7:19AM
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the cats will really love your will give them something to sit on at night when they howl..yes howl..

the best deterrant for a cat in your yard, is a dog in your yard

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 9:38AM
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you know i chuckle to myself time and again when i keep misreading this as
planets that repel cats and i keep thinking PLUTO

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:52PM
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What about chicken wire lining the fence? What if the "shelf" was made of something flexible so that it won't hold weight?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 5:58PM
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