8 Natural Ways to Keep Cats out of Your Garden

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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!