According to the American Pet Products Association, 38.9 million households own at least one cat. Many of these feline companions are granted access to the great outdoors. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that there are tens of millions of feral and stray cats. None of these numbers bode well for your garden. Keeping feline visitors to a minimum is vital to the survival of young plants: cat urine and damage from trampling or nibbling can quickly turn a prize-winning bed of petunias into a sickly plot of stems. Thankfully, a number of humane and effective cat-repellent methods are available to gardeners.
Things You'll Need
Citrus fruit peels
Ultrasonic cat repeller
Cover your mulch with chicken wire. Some cats see a mulched garden as the perfect place to urinate or defecate. Most cats will avoid areas covered in chicken wire because of the unpleasant feeling caused by the wire on their sensitive paws.
Plant a barrier of plants that cats find unpleasant. Strongly aromatic plants, such as geraniums or rue, deter cats.
Sprinkle citrus fruit peels throughout your garden. Cats detest the smell of citrus, and the aroma of the peels deters them. Reapply the citrus peels periodically, as the scent dissipates when the peels dry out.
Fill shallow plates with white vinegar. Place the plates around the perimeter of your garden. Cats are averse to the strong odor of vinegar and avoid areas where the vinegar smell is present. Do not spray vinegar directly onto the ground – the acid in vinegar may damage delicate plants. Re-fill the plates as the vinegar evaporates.
Mix a solution consisting of 4 tbsp. cayenne pepper, ½ cup hot sauce, 2 tbsp. chili powder and 4 cups boiling water. Put the solution in a squirt bottle and spray your plants. The smell alone should deter cats, and the taste should discourage garden nuisances such as cats and squirrels from eating your foliage, flowers and vegetables. Re-apply the solution after a rainfall.
Sprinkle fake snakes throughout your garden. All but the most stubborn, courageous cats avoid snakes. You can make fake snakes by cutting up sections of an old garden hose.
Invest in a motion-sensitive sprinkler system for your garden. When the motion detectors sense the cats, the sprinklers start watering. The spray from the sprinklers chases off the cats.
Borrow a neighbor's dog for an afternoon. Have the dog urinate around the perimeter of the garden. The scent of the dog's urine keeps unwanted visitors, including cats, from frequenting your garden. Be sure to keep the dog urine off of your plants -- the chemical compounds in canine urine kill greenery. Borrow the dog again in a week or so.
Install an ultrasonic cat-repellent device. Ultrasonic repellent devices use high-pitched noises undetectable by humans to keep felines away from your garden.
Plant catnip on another area of your property to attract cats to that plant instead of your garden.
Use more than one method of keeping cats out of your garden for optimal effects.
Do not lay out poison or antifreeze to keep cats out of your garden. This is inhumane, and is against the laws in most areas. If you feel the need to remove cats from the area completely, invest in a humane live trap or contact your local Humane Society for help.
- American Pet Products Association: Industry Trends and Statistics
- Elk Grove City Animal Control Services: Keeping Unwanted Animals Out of Your Yard -- Cats (PDF)
- Neighborhood Cats: Keeping Cats Out of Gardens and Yards
- University of Vermont Extension: Keeping Cats Out of the Garden
- North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on Cats