Natural Smells Cats Really DislikeAs mentioned, the way to keep cats out of certain places is by putting some cat repellent that will smell terrible to them. There are plenty of options, but every cat is different - so you’ll need to find the right one for yours. Here are a few options:
Cats are not fans of lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or lemongrass smells. You’ll typically see these artificially added to chemical repellents. Leave a few citrus rinds outdoors or around the house in a bowl and you won’t see kitties around there.
Best known to most folks as the smell of mosquito-repelling candles you break out during the summer BBQs and camping trips, citronella makes cats run. Citronella plants work quite well to deter cats from your yard.
Don’t throw out those morning coffee grounds—spread these or fresh grounds around your plant bed to protect them from feline curiosity.
Onions and Garlic
Both of these incredibly intense smells keep cats away on their own, but you can combine them in a blender or food processor with water to create a plant spray that also wards off plant-harming insects.
Planting cat-offending herbs is a total win-win; you get to enjoy the fragrance and taste of fresh herbs while solving your cat problem at the same time.
Grow these herbs around your yard, in your gardens, or potted in containers inside your home near feline-forbidden territory:
Additionally, you can sprinkle dried herbs outdoors, or place sachets of them around your house wherever you don’t want your cat wandering around.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix apple cider vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a clean, empty spray bottle. You can use this around the house and outside, but not directly on plants.
Mouthwash (or Mint Extract)
Cat repellers agree that diluting mouthwash in a spray bottle with water simulates the mint smell cats don’t like. A quarter teaspoon of food-grade mint extract also works.
"Oh no, she is putting that smelly stuff in the corner again. I was going to sleep there!"
What NOT To UseWhile some resources will tell you that these are effective and safe, many of the ingredients below can be toxic or unhealthy for cats.
Many recipes call for drops of essential oils in fragrances that mimic the ones we just discussed, however, you must use caution with these. Essential oils are harmful, dangerous, and toxic to cats. Skip the oil and go right for the real stuff.
Black or Cayenne Pepper
There are several recipes online advising a mix of black or cayenne pepper with warm water to create a sort of “pepper spray” to deter cats. For one, you can literally mace yourself while creating this concoction if you’re not careful. Additionally, the spray can get in your pet’s eyes when grooming, which will be extremely painful for them.
No one likes the smell of mothballs, especially cats, so many people use these in their gardens to keep them and other critters out of their flowers. First, mothballs are terrible for your flowers, plants, and soil. Second, they’re super dangerous to other animals and can even cause death.
I hate those smells too, but please use what's safe for me! I wouldn't know what that is, but these people are telling you...
Homemade Cat Repellent RecipesBy mixing several scents cats don’t like, you increase the chances of one of them being the magic repeller. A spray with a nice scent is especially great for your furniture. But remember to test these sprays on small parts of your furniture or carpets before going full force. You can also spray these mixtures on a paper towel and rub down doors, baseboards, or furniture legs you don’t want scratched. Just take it easy with these recipes at first; the smells may not seem strong to you, but they’ll be dominating your cat’s ultra sensitive scent receptors.
Cinnamon, Rosemary, & Lavender
- 3 tablespoons of each: cinnamon, fresh rosemary and dried lavender
- 3 cups of boiling water
- ¾ cups distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Drop 3 tablespoons each of cinnamon, fresh rosemary, and dried lavender into a large heatproof container. Add 3 cups of boiling water, cover the container, and steep like tea overnight.
- The following day, pour the mixture into another container using a cheesecloth or coffee filter to strain out the chunky bits. Grab a funnel and pour the strained mixture into a clean spray bottle.
- Now add 3/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/4 cup lemon juice to the spray bottle. Shake to incorporate.
- Caution: Don’t spray directly on plants.
Vinegar, Soap, and Water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Dish or hand soap
- Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water, distilled white vinegar, and clear dish or hand washing liquid soap. Don’t use colored soap as it may stain your furniture. Try to find a citrus scented soap to maximize cat dislike.
- Shake this up well to combine and spray outside or on furniture.
- Caution: Do not spray on plants
- A mix of your favorite fresh herbs
- Boiling water
- Use your favorite herbs (that also conveniently repel felines) to create a spray to fill your home with beautiful scents that repel cats without the smell of vinegar.
- Take your fresh herbs and add them to a large heatproof bowl or container. Pour boiling water over the herbs and steep them like you would tea leaves. Strain the plants out and add the liquid to a clean spray bottle when cooled.
- Feel free to spray this anywhere as it’s safe enough for your furniture, children, and other pets.
Bonus! Scentless Cat Repellent
If you are sensitive to smells or have asthma, you can also creating a kitty-safe zone, instead of keeping cats out. Plant a bunch of catnip in a small corner of your yard which will attract the cats there instead of where you don’t want them to go. They’ll go crazy for the smell, but you won’t even notice it.
Why am I still hanging out in this grass, when there is catVIP, I mean catnip right over there?"
- "Natural Cat Repellent Tips," The Nest
- "Ways to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard," The Spruce