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What is a Cat Repellent?

By Kris Roudebush
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A cat repellent is a product, home remedy or commercial, that is used to keep cats away from an area. Cats, and sometimes dogs, who are allowed to run loose may find their way into a yard and relieve themselves. These messes can destroy gardens, grass, and children's sand boxes. Even cat lovers find that they may have an area or two where their cat is unwanted. Cat waste can be harmful to humans and especially pregnant women when toxoplasmosis, which can cause birth defects, is present. Most commercial cat repellents are very effective at keeping cats away, however cost is often an issue over the long term.

An environmentally sound cat repellent is a scarecrow sprinkler. This works like an alarm system with a motion detector. Once tripped, the sprinkler will shoot water at anything within a certain range. Scarecrow sprinklers are also a high tech cat repellent and tend to be very effective.

There are some low tech cat repellents that can be done before you lay out your landscaping. Try laying down some chicken wire after you've laid out your mulch and cut out openings for your plants. While this will prevent cats from walking on it on purpose, if they should run across it, they may cut their paws.

Citrus odors are a very effective cat repellent. There are a couple commercial products on the market that use citrus odors as a cat repellent. The drawback is they can be expensive if you have a large area to cover. They will also wash away when you water or during a rain. This might be a good option for a sand box that would be covered. Other commercial options including predator scents, like coyote or wolf urine, can be used in the same manner, sprinkled over the problem area.

Another cat repellent is cayenne pepper. Cats and dogs will stay away from this, but again, once it rains the cayenne is washed away. Also cayenne pepper is considered by many to be harmful to cats. You may want to consider another option if you're an animal lover.

There are plants that are also act as an effective cat repellent. One of those plants is commonly known as a scaredy cat plant. Lavender is another plant that cats will stay away from.

Other home remedies can be toxic so be aware of your options. Moth balls are toxic to people, especially children. Please be cautious when using moth balls. Ammonia is an effective cat repellent, but can have unwanted side effects on your yard. In the end remember that while you may not want the cat in a certain part of your yard, you also don’t want to harm your yard, friends and family, or the animal. Choose products that will be safe for all involved.

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Discussion Comments
By anon951691 — On May 17, 2014

Try a motion detector sprinkler system. A blast of water each time the invader comes over will quickly discourage him and water your plants as well!

By anon948295 — On Apr 29, 2014

I have talked with my neighbor about many different animal issues. They had a dog and duck that loved to use my mulch and yard to relieve themselves. The animals are gone due to age.

I now have a big issue with her 1 year old cat. In a prior conversation they suggested I put up a fence (to keep her pets out). I am a pet lover but have had it with the neighbor’s pets. I don't want to do chicken wire. I am thinking of cayenne pepper. Any advice would be helpful. I have tried commercial products with no success.

By anon290014 — On Sep 06, 2012

Trespassing by your neighbor's pet is still trespassing. Catch it and take it to the Pound. After they bail the critter out, they might rethink their position.

By anon235577 — On Dec 18, 2011

I have tried cayenne pepper, regular black pepper, citrus peels etc. to keep my cats out of my potted plants. They ignore all of it. Do some cats like cayenne pepper or are they just that stubborn?

By anon97258 — On Jul 19, 2010

Did you crush the mothballs?

By goingcrazy — On Nov 25, 2009

Neighbors who have cats and let them out are cold-blooded! If they care, they won't let their cats go around the neighborhood and poop everywhere they want.

Our front and back yard have been messed up by neighbor's cats these couple years -- poops on lawns. Problems are we don't know who is the owner and around what time those cats come over and poop. They also always like to climb our side gate/doors and walk on the fence.

By goingcrazy — On Nov 25, 2009

We've tried the dog and cat repellents that we bought from stores, including fox urine, but the lid didn't cover well once opened. i wonder if the smell has gone and cats ignore the repellent.

Then some people suggested red chili or black pepper powder. I sprinkled a line in front of the side door (both sides), but we still hear the cats climb over. It's very annoying to smell and see their poops in the yards (back and front).

We're never able to catch the time they come. As for the backyard, cats walk on the top of fences! How can we stop them coming down and pooping? I cleaned their poops for a few times and every time I do it, I feel myself filled with the smell of cat poops.

By lzwynn — On Mar 24, 2009

I'll try the cayenne pepper. I've tried moth balls and lemons. Everyone's cats still come to my yard (the nicest one in the neighborhood) and dig huge holes in my grass with poop in the middle of it. I've talked with the neighbors and they don't care. It's been very disheartening because I work so hard in my yard and then when I leave for work I smell cat urine and see holes!!!

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