Outdoor and feral cats can be rather adventurous and mischievous, sometimes to the point of becoming a nuisance in your yard or the lawns of your neighbours. Not only do cats love to use the soft soil found in garden flower beds as a litter box, but they may also attempt to rummage through trash cans which can become quite messy.
Since nobody wants cat faeces in their garden, many cat deterrent devices, sprays, and more have been invented. Considering how many options there truly are, it is not uncommon to wonder which ones work the best or most efficiently. This article answers the question, ‘what is the most effective cat repellent’ by exploring the different options available and discussing the level of success users generally find when they put them into practice. We also go over some helpful DIY cat deterrent recipes that you can easily make and try out at home.
Cat Repellent Explained
What Is Cat Repellent?
The term cat repellent refers to various types of devices, materials, and even liquids, all of which work to repel cats and keep them away from a specific area. Some cat repellents are designed for outdoor garden use, like commercial spray products or Silent Roar made from lion dung, and others are suitable for indoor use. Wherever your bothersome cat problem exists, there is a cat repellent suited to the job.
The neighbours’ cat(s) have decided to use my lawn as their personal bathroom! 💩😡 Got rid of it all and put down some cat & dog repellent granules. Smells like lemons. I don’t want to kill them but want them to stop using my garden as their 🚽! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/khq1sm7Jl4
— dee 🦖🇪🇺 (@SWDee17) April 24, 2021
Often, outdoor cat repellents can also work to help rid your lawn from other mischievous or bothersome animals like squirrels who eat your fruits and vegetables, aggressive birds, and more. Many will have settings on them so you can control which animals you are deterring.
Common Types of Cat Repellent
Due to the heightened sensitivity of a cat’s senses, specifically, their hearing and sense of smell, you can use a wide variety of cat repellent products and homemade DIY deterrent recipes.
Some of the most common types of cat deterrents offend a cats sense of smell. It includes homemade DIY concoctions, plants, as well as commercial products. Other common forms of cat deterrent use motion-activated technology, water, and physical barriers to achieve their goal of keeping cats away from a specific area, regardless of the reason why.
The Effectiveness of Different Cat Repellents
Following is a thorough dive into the best cat repellents known and available today. The best cat scarer for your circumstances will depend on the area you want to keep cats away from as well as the cats you are trying to keep away. What deters one cat may not deter another.
my cat is a toddler. which means, she's in her entitlement stage and she doesn't know boundaries. to fix that, I bought cat repellent.
— B, RPT. (@sideboob_b) April 23, 2021
Motion Activated Electronic Devices: Inconsistent Effectiveness
Compared to humans, cats have a much higher range of hearing. Just like dogs, cats can hear sounds that are inaudible to humans and other animals. It makes noise quite effective when it comes to keeping cats away from your garden.
Ultrasonic Animal Repeller
Ultrasonic cat repellent tools use a motion sensor paired with an ultrasonic sound and possibly flashing lights to deter cats away from your garden. These devices are generally inexpensive and are designed for outdoor use in your lawn or garden.
This type of product features a ground stake, so you can easily install it and can be either battery-operated or feature a solar panel to keep the motion detector and sound functioning properly. Depending on your local weather, you may prefer the solar-powered or battery-operated design.
Either way, this type of cat repeller works fairly well on some cats, not so well on others, and for some cats, the effectiveness is only short-lived and wears off once the shock of the sound dissipates. However, this solution also works as an animal repeller and may keep other unwanted animals away.
Level of effectiveness: Hit or miss depending on the specific cats or animals.
Motion Activated Water Deterrents: Extremely Effective
As you most likely know, pet cats, feral cats, cats of all kinds hate water. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, cats will do just about anything they can to avoid getting wet. For this reason, plain old water may be the most effective and best cat scarer around. The only problem with this is that it often can be time-consuming or cost quite a bit of money.
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Spray, Hose, or Water Gun
Using a good old fashioned spray bottle filled with water, a garden hose, or a high powered water gun is one of the most common types of cat deterrent used by cat owners. In fact, having a bottle to spray cats handy is one of the best ways to train cats to stay off the counter inside.
However, this method relies on keeping a constant, uninterrupted watch for it to be 100% effective, and you can’t always be there when a cat feels like invading places you have deemed off-limits. It is particularly true when it comes to keeping cats out of your garden or away from a bird feeder.
Level of effectiveness: 100% effective but only if you are present and functioning as the motion sensor.
Motion Activated Sprinkler
Installing a sprinkler with a motion detector is a highly effective method used to deter cats. Some sprinklers are specifically designed to shoot strong bursts of water jets and can be aimed at or near your garden to function as a cat repeller. Often, if a sprinkler starts spraying water, cats will naturally disperse, even if it is not physically getting them wet.
Cons for this method include a higher than normal price point, a more involved installation process, and a somewhat restricted target and sensor range.
Level of effectiveness: Extremely effective but more expensive and requires a more specialized installation.
Odour Deterrents: Highly Effective
Sense of smell is another area where cats excel and have heightened responses. Cats are drawn to smells they find enjoyable and rely on their smell for various reasons, including alerting them of danger. Cats are also offended by a wide variety of scents, some of which activate their sense of survival, and others they simply do not like and find unpleasant.
Fortunately, some of the smells that deter cats are quite pleasant for humans, making this method good for indoor and outdoor use.
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Commercial Spray and Powder
Commercial cat repellents usually come as either a spray or powder product. This type of product generally targets a cats survival instincts because they contain the scent of animals that are a cat’s predators in nature, such as coyote, bobcat, fox, or lion found in Silent Roar.
This type of cat repellent spray or powder product is not harmful to gardens and is non-toxic, but they work exceptionally well as cat scarers. Simply sprinkle or spray in strategic areas throughout your garden and around the perimeter of your lawn, and you should have significant success keeping cats away.
Level of effectiveness: Highly effective but may need to reapply regularly depending on your local climate.
Some specific plants emit a smell that cats find unpleasant, and since cats are known for being especially finicky and particular, certain plants can often be enough to stop cats from lounging in your garden. Try planting some of them throughout your garden or possibly moving potted ones around to see what kind of success you get.
Common plants that can be used as cat deterrents:
- Scaredy-cat, or Coleus Canina (also helps to keep dogs away from your garden beds)
- Lavender (also helps to keep deer away from your garden beds)
Level of effectiveness: Somewhat effective in gardens, but the deterrent effect is often not the best or permanent by any means. It could also be seasonal, depending on the plant.
Really need to find a good cat repellent to stop the neighbourhood cats from digging up and pooping in my fresh soil. Just want my wee memorial garden to be perfect but cats keep digging it up
— K Y L I E (@KylieLucia_) March 27, 2021
Essential Oils and Other Natural Scents
As we briefly inferred above, cats are offended or repulsed by a wide variety of smells. Cats also have a significantly stronger sense of smell than humans, so a scent that doesn’t seem very strong to us may be overpowering for cats.
One of the best things about this method for eliminating your cat problem is that it is easily accessible. The product you use is typically inexpensive and easy to find, are often in your home already. Many of the scents are also pleasant enough for indoor use in addition to outdoor use.
Like the other odour cat deterrents, all you have to do is spread the smell throughout your garden or the area you wish to keep cats out of, and you should be all good to go.
Common scents that can be used as cat deterrents:
- Coffee grounds
- Citronella (candle or essential oil)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Loose pipe tobacco
- Black pepper
- Rinds or peels from citrus fruit like lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges
- Fragrance or essential oil: eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, and other citrus-scented essential oils
Level of effectiveness: Highly effective indoors and outdoors in your garden if you reapply after rainy or wet weather.
Physical Barriers: Somewhat Effective
Physical barriers are another common way to deter cats in your home or your garden. The basic idea is that you try to make specific areas as inhospitable to cats as possible.
Some of the following methods are fairly successful but keep in mind that cats are extremely agile and can climb and balance with impressive skill, so using barriers isn’t always as effective as you might hope.
Covering Trees and Indoor Spaces With Aluminium Foil
Aluminium foil is an excellent form of cat repellent, as long as you don’t mind the overall intrusive appearance. Not only do cats dislike the feeling of the metal like foil on their paws and claws, but they also dislike the sound rustling aluminium foil makes in the wind or while being manipulated.
Try wrapping sheets of aluminium foil around trees where birds gather. It will prevent cats from climbing the tree and attacking the birds. You can also cover your countertops or tables when not in use to try and train your pet cat from tracking their dirty paws on surfaces that come in contact with food on a regular basis.
Level of effectiveness: Relatively effective on a smaller coverage area but not very pleasing to the eye.
Covering Landscaping and Gardens
Cats hate to step on scratchy or abrasive surfaces, like the ones we just listed, so they will generally try to avoid them whenever possible. That’s why when it comes to keeping cats out of your garden and soil, one popular cat repellent method involves covering your garden beds. You can use a protective or scratchy product such as chicken wire, mulch, pinecone clippings, holly clippings, or even disposable forks with their handles in the ground and the tines pointing up like a miniature fence.
If you choose to go the chicken wire route, as many people prefer, cover the entire garden bed before planting and then cut holes out in the areas you wish to insert your new plants. It will give you the best coverage and help to keep cats away from the base of your larger plants.
Level of effectiveness: Relatively effective if the ground is completely covered but results often vary with this method.
Homemade Cat Repellent Solution Recipes
Instead of buying a commercial product or electronic items, there are several effective homemade solutions you can easily make yourself. DIY solutions are a great way to save money, and you may already own most, if not all, of the ingredients as well, which makes this route particularly appealing to many people.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
Often something as simple as apple cider vinegar, which you may already have in your kitchen cabinet or pantry, mixed with water, can be just as effective as a commercial spray.
- Mix one part water with one part apple cider vinegar inside a clean container with a spray nozzle.
- Shake gently until thoroughly mixed.
- Spray generously in the areas you wish to deter cats.
- Reapply after extended periods of wet or rainy weather.
*You can also mix a couple of drops of any of the essential oils listed above with water in a spray bottle to achieve a less concentrated application of the offensive odour in question to increase coverage of the product.
Black Pepper, Lemon, and Garlic
While this recipe is slightly more involved, it features a high level of effectiveness, and many people find it doesn’t need to be applied as frequently because of the pungent nature of the finished product.
Mix the following ingredients together in a spray bottle, shake well, and spray in any garden area you wish to keep cats away from.
- 2 grammes of black or cayenne pepper
- 2 grammes of dry mustard
- 3 grammes of cinnamon
- One clove of crushed garlic (or 2 grammes powdered garlic if fresh is not readily available)
- 4 or 5 drops of lemon essential oil
- Fill remaining space with water
These street cats are sooooo out of line, they left me the nastiest shit at my doorstep right after we threw some cat repellent all over the yard lol fml
— CapturedByDaniela (@dannyELLAH_) April 12, 2021
Citrus Peels and Dish Soap
If you already consume citrus fruits in your home on a regular basis, we recommend trying this recipe as a way to repurpose parts of the fruit that would otherwise become compost or waste.
- In a large mixing bowl or bucket, add about 100 grammes of citrus peels (orange, lime, lemon, tangerine, or grapefruit will work)
- Add two tablespoons of lemon juice
- Add a squirt of lemon-scented dish soap
- Add approximately 500 ml of water and stir thoroughly, taking care to apply pressure to the rinds to release as much flavour and oil as possible
- Sprinkle the mixture in any area you wish to deter cats
Cat Repellent Effectiveness
We know we covered a lot of information in this article. That’s why it’s time for a quick review before you go so you can easily recall the most important parts. So, what is the most effective cat repellent? Many people find great success using cat repellents that offend a cat’s sense of smell or their hatred of water.
Physical barriers and creating unhospitable areas can also have somewhat good results, depending on the cats themselves, and ultrasonic devices are pretty much hit or miss. Some cats will respond right away, some not at all, and for some cats, the effectiveness will wear off over time as they become accustomed to the flashing lights and the high pitched sound it emits.
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Choose the Most Effective Cat Repellent For Your Garden
Just remember that the most effective and best cat repellent may vary from one situation to the next, and there is a lot of a grey area in between. Indoor and outdoor cat repellent options are widely different, and not all cats will respond the same way to particular types of stimuli. Therefore, you may have to experiment a bit before you truly find the most effective cat repellent for your garden and home.
Let us know what you think about all of our ideas and which product or solution works best for you in the comments below!