8 Natural Ways to Keep Cats out of Your Garden

This post may include affiliate links.
If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.

Here are 8 natural ways to keep cats out of your vegetable or flower garden. These tips are effective and safe for kids and pets.

gray and white cat majestically sitting on white chair

Meet Neighbor Kitty. Isn’t he handsome?

Over the years, he has “supervised” me on numerous garden projects, like planting asparagus and building a seed starting light.

The only part I don’t like about sharing the garden with him is that he regards my raised beds as his own personal litterbox. Not cool, Neighbor Kitty!

There are several natural ways to keep cats out of your garden. But first, let’s talk about the methods to avoid.

cat sitting on garden soil

Cat Deterrents to Avoid

Please don’t use these items to keep cats out of your garden:

  • Mothballs: mothballs are a pesticide and are toxic to pets, people, and wildlife. They don’t belong in your garden or your closet.
  • Scat mat: this is a plastic mat full of spikes. They look awful in the garden, and there’s no space in between them to plant anything.
  • Coffee grounds: even a small amount of coffee grounds, if ingested, can kill a cat or dog. Please don’t use coffee grounds in your garden. Put them in your compost pile instead.
  • Plastic forks: you’ve probably seen a picture with an army of forks sticking up from the soil. This is bad for several reasons: plastic silverware is bad for the environment; it looks tacky as all heck; and some plastics, when heated, can leach toxins into the soil.

plastic forks sticking up in garden bed

8 Natural Ways to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Description: Simply place the deterrent unit in your desired location, and watch as unwanted cats and animal pests are deterred from entering the 40 foot range of protection. As soon as a pest enters this area the unit emits an ultrasonic noise (only audible to the pest) and flashes ultra-bright strobe lights to effectively scare and keep pests far away.

My opinion: I don’t mind having Neighbor Kitty in the yard, and with only a 40 foot range I’d need to buy several. At nearly $50 each, there has to be a better way.

Citrus Peels

Description: Just like it sounds, you scatter orange, lemon, or lime peels all over the surface of your raised beds.

My opinion: While these fit right in my budget, we would have to eat a LOT of citrus to put them around the entire garden. And they look tacky, too.

orange peels on table


Description: Keep cats away from your garden by making a separate part of the yard that is OK for them to use as a litterbox. Plant some catnip nearby for them to enjoy. You’ll still have to clean up, but everything will be contained.

My opinion: This is not a sure-fire method for keeping cats out of your garden beds, but it’s an easy first step.

Rosemary Essential Oil

Description: Since cats have 80 million smell receptors (people have 5 million), the concentrated scents from essential oils can keep them away from your garden. Recommended oils include Rosemary, Citronella, and Orange.

My opinion: This is one of my favorite kitty-be-gone methods. I used 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil in 1 cup of water and sprayed it all over a problem area in the front yard. It’s been more than 2 weeks and there have been no “deposits” in that area yet!

Motion Activated Sprinkler

Description: Using infrared technology, Spray Away senses an animal’s heat and movement up to 35 feet away. When an animal is detected, the sprinkler releases a sudden burst of water combined with startling noise and motion that safely and effectively repels a wide range of animals.

The animal detector works day or night, so it’s always on watch. This motion sensor sprinkler will defend up to 1,900 square feet.

My opinion: I am fairly confident that I will forget to turn this off one day, and will get drenched when harvesting or weeding. 😉

Coleus Canina plant

Description: This plant is also called “Scaredy Cat Coleus.” It has a distinctive skunk smell, which is worse when someone brushes up against the plant or bruises it. This attractive perennial herb is a member of the mint family.

My opinion: A plant that smells like a skunk? And it smells worse when you touch it?!? Ummm…no.

coleus canina plant

Go Away! Cat/Dog repellent

Description: Protect your lawn, flowers, gardens, trees, shrubs, and other areas from unwanted animals. Go Away! Repellent is designed to train animals to stay out of the areas. Prevent cats from using your garden as a litter box. Comes in an easy to use shaker top container.

My opinion: Don’t sprinkle this around if there’s the tiniest bit of wind! Its main ingredient is black pepper and it made me sneeze when applying it. I won’t use it again, although it did last for about a week. I just hope Neighbor Kitty didn’t get any on his paws. Ick!

Plastic Garden Fencing

Description: The Garden Fence lets you quickly and easily construct a border for flower or vegetable gardens, a trellis for climbing flowers or plants, etc. You’ll never have to worry about splinters, sharp edges or rust–the fade-resistant Garden Fence will continue to look as good as the day you installed it.

My opinion: This is my favorite method for keeping kitties out of the garden. Instead of using it like a vertical fence, cut it into 1-foot square pieces and lay them in the raised beds around your plants. As the plants grow, you can remove them or rearrange them.

The reason this keeps the kitties away is because they need an open piece of dirt for a bathroom, and they don’t like the feeling of the mesh under their feet. You could also use chicken wire, but I’m so clumsy that I would probably slip and poke myself with the wire. No danger of that (or of rust) with the plastic fencing.

plastic garden fencing laying on soil

Pine Cones

Description: Cats don’t like pokey things in their bathroom, because they need room to scratch the soil. Covering the soil with pine cones doesn’t give them room to “do their business.”

My opinion: This is easy on the wallet, but not practical if you have a large garden area to protect. It would take a LOT of pine cones to cover my three huge raised beds!

What other tips do you recommend to keep cats out of your garden?

orange peels, coleus, pine cones, plastic forks, plastic fencing

Hi, Im Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

27 thoughts on -8 Natural Ways to Keep Cats out of Your Garden-

  1. We don’t mind the cats in the garden, even though both of us are allergic to cat dander, they do keep the rodent population down. We tried using the trimmings from our rose bushes ( 4-6 inch long stems with thorns ) to discourage cats from using parts of the garden for their cat box. We would lay them down and/or push them into the soil. It works for a while, but we found some cats just are more careful and move the thorny stems ( at least we think it was the cats ) out of the way as soon as the thorn tips wore down.

  2. I suggest not having any loose soil for the cats, such as by heavily wetting the soil and checking to make sure it was wet each evening, since they pooped at night at our house.
    When we moved into our house 4 years ago there was a 5′ x 5′ area in front of our house that was being targeted by two cats from across the street who were pooping there nightly. The soil was very loose there for some reason. I solved the problem by keeping the area wet nightly, until the soil was compacted by all of the watering and no longer seemed loose. Then I let it dry out, and it was crusted hard on top, as is the clay soil on most of our property, and the cats never pooped there after that. They continued to visit to hunt birds and rest among the flowers, but never made a pooping area on our property again. Probably this is because when I garden I just dig a hole and put in the seeds in and don’t do any other disturbance of the ground. The reason I don’t till is out of concern for the beneficial soil insects on the surface of the dirt, who decompose vegetation and produce fertilizer from their poop. So I guess you could say I’m trading cat poop in favor of insect poop!

    Cindy O.

  3. Avatar photo
    Jennifer Brass

    Tried Rosemary oil – recipe you suggested- as well as citronella and the dog/cat away sold in stores. Also put down thorny rose bush and raspberry clippings all of which failed.

  4. I will have 2 vegetable container gardens on my apartment porch soon. I think a stray neighborhood cat has been using my previous (now plantless) flower pot soil as its litter box. Not cool! I’m not a cat person & I just want to grow a few veggies safely. Will a chicken wire cage keep this cat out or can he paw through the chicken wire?

  5. I was having so many issues planting veggie seeds in my garden, because the neighborhood cats would constantly be walking on my seedlings or eating them even when they weren’t digging them up.

    Eventually, my solution ended up being to build a 3-foot tall fence around each raised bed using PVC pipes and bird netting. Only costs about $20 per raised bed. It’s open on the top for me to reach in and harvest my lettuce, and for the taller veggies to grow out the top.

    I’ve seen the cats try to push their way through the netting from the sides, and when they can’t find a hole they wander off somewhere else. They don’t seem to think jumping over it is an option. Haven’t had a single cat in my raised bed since I set them up months ago, and they were digging nearly every day before that.

  6. Avatar photo
    Marion Foster

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
    Neighbor kitties on both sides , beautiful cats and only doing what comes naturally. I see no sense in telling my neighbors about it because not much they can do except keep their cats indoors.
    I like the idea of spraying with essential oils and I have chicken wire that I intend to put up for my peas. I think I will cut pieces large enough to cover my raised beds until the garden grows a bit, then fix them for the peas.

    1. What’s wrong with keeping them indoors? That is where pet cats should be. They kill birds and are in danger themselves from cars and predators. You are much too forgiving and enabling towards these annoying “pests”.

  7. Thanks your guy’s so much for theses great ideas. I am off to the races. Haven’t a terrible cat problem but think it’s a stray who loves my newly sweat and tears flower beds. I got some ammunition now !

  8. Avatar photo
    Lyla Rae Wickstrum

    Many ideas. We have started and will try a few more. My husband has trapped them but it is hard and
    it is not pleasant. WE get very mad at people who have no respect and allow their animals to run around
    freely – no excuse. Cats are the worse and cat owners seem to be the worse owners probably because
    the poop is too big to hid.
    Thanks for all the ideas and comments. I will write back when we have tried a few.


    1. Do you take the trapped cats back home to their owners? If not and you have them destroyed you are
      committing a crime of theft. Animals are considered property. In some states you may go to jail. But
      it’s also cruel to kill an animal for doing something natural. They don’t know. Many cities have leash
      laws which include cats. Do you talk to the neighbors nicely? If you’re rude they will be rude and you
      will get no sympathy from me when their kitty potties in your begonias.

      1. Avatar photo
        Timothy Martin

        Take to animal control and let them take care of the problem. There are vets in my area that will sterilize stray cats free. Pets that let out to roam are strays in my eyes and will take them to the pound. I am not looking for the owner.

      2. I live in a developing country and have tried to build myself a small oasis of calm, a garden. The very same city has millions of stray cats. What do you suggest we do with them.

      3. Kind of hard to return cats to their owners when you don’t know who they belong to. I don’t want anyone’s cats OR dogs pooping in my gardens or in my yard. If I let my dog run around the neighborhood pooping in people’s yards you can bet they would be calling animal control or worse. I don’t dislike cats but I damn sure don’t like people who let their cats roam around pooping in the gardens I work hard to raise. It is irresponsible and rude.

    2. The customer (product review) comments, for the Go Away! Repellent – have to be one of the most amusing things that I have read in a long time! Lol A good read- if one ever finds themselves bored, or feeling a bit down! 🙂

  9. Great article with very helpful tips. I love that you point out the pros and cons of each method and why it may or may not work for someone. Thanks for pointing out the negatives of using non-natural methods as well. Moth balls are never a good idea if you want any backyard wildlife. Now if you write an article about keeping chipmunks out of gardens, I’d love to read it. Just moved to a state with them and I’m having to figure that one out.

  10. If my cat is any indication, a good cat repellent is to put an air fryer out in your yard and turn it on. The “horrifying” noise it makes will send all cats fleeing in terror!

  11. “Planting” moth balls approximately 4-6” deep also works… as well as cayenne pepper sprinkled on the top of the soil. Although it needs to be done after rain… it works really well!

  12. if you take baby food jars and poke holes in the lid fill with ammonia and bury it to the lid the sent tricks the cat to think its being marked by another cat

    1. We live in a small rural town. We adopted a stray kitten eleven years ago. She was immediately neutered. She has a chip and is totally indoors; but outdoor cats terrorize her to the point that she now has tummy and kidney issues. We have tried so many alternatives. Chopped up orange peels are currently working. Did you know that female strays even walk their litter through neighborhoods and “drop them off” here and there so that they can be attractive to a dominant outdoor male? When we called the local police after this happened, the one who came stood on the garden path and called, “Here, Kitty.” So we captured it ourselves and took it to he vet!

  13. My husband and I are avid gardeners, and our garden rows are all 50′ long for the planting bean, beets, loose leaf lettuce…and so forth. We use farm fencing to make our tomatoes to grow in. We have not had a kitty problem. We have bigger problems. Our St. Barnard loves good ripe tomatoes. We tried putting a fence around the garden, but he dug under it almost the whole fence row. Then, he tried to jump over it, but at 225lbs, the squished flat. Since the tomatoes were the only problem. we had with Bear, and the farm fencing worked real well as a growing tomatoes plants were growing toward the sky, and I didn’t have to crawl all around looking for the red or yellow fruit/veggie. Bear could not get his snout through the squares. Now if we could keep the deer and most especially the raccoon’s out of our corn patch. It’s gotten so bad we haven’t raised corn for a decade. I had a elderly lady down the road, told me to keep bunnies out of the lettuce, peas and I don’t remember what else, was to use human hair. i tried some of hair fresh off the brush. Well that worked wonderfully. I found that was magically. Bag of dried blood you get at the gardening store and sprinkle the dried along the fence line. Most critters do not like the smell of blood.
    I have questions to talk about but it’s almost midnight and I am beat.

  14. I had to laugh about the sprinkler sensor. I bought 5 of those to keep deer out of my garden. They worked for about a month. Yes, I got hit with the strong spray so many times, I eventually didn’t even bother to turn the things off when I needed to go in the area. If I timed it right, I could almost get through and between and around them without getting too soaked. They have to be hooked up to their own hose, so with that hose, and my sprinkler system pipes that had worked their way above ground, plus the doggie wire with the mild current to keep my dog out of the garden, and my garden hose, there were so many pipes, hoses and wires all over the place that I was constantly tripping and worried that a guest would get hurt. I read about a man who had one of those sprinkler sensors pointing away from his front door to keep salesmen away.

  15. Avatar photo
    Kristi Dvorak

    I initially smitten with the two little outdoor kitties by neighbor adopted. But they made a mess out of my raised beds. I found that spreading coffee grounds keeps them away. I’ve used essential oil sprays as a fungcide. So using rosemary oil is a win-win.