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How to Keep Cats Out of Your Yard: 8 Effective Tricks

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Wondering how to keep cats out of the garden? You’ll find what you need to know here!

Cats can be beloved pets. However, they can also be huge nuisances, especially stray cats. Whether they be feral or your neighbor’s pets, Pesky cats are capable of trampling and eating plants and pooping in the garden. 

If you have been noticing an influx of stray cats around your home, or that your neighbor’s cat won’t stop using your garden as its bathroom, then keep on reading. Below we will discuss some ideas that may help keep cats out of your yard. We’ll also share five actionable steps you can take to rid your garden of cats indefinitely. 

What Attracts Cats to the Garden?

cats in yard

As gardeners, we constantly assess problems that arise, like plant nutritional deficiencies and insect pests. The last thing you might expect to be on the list of a gardener’s problems is cats. Well, the truth is, cats are capable of wreaking havoc in the garden just like deer, rabbits, and other animals. 

If this sounds like a problem you are experiencing, there is most likely something about your yard that attracts cats. Cats can be drawn to your garden for a variety of reasons. 

  • Hunting for food: if there are good opportunities for hunting birds and rodents around your home, you may notice that cats come visiting more often.
  • Shelter: cats are resourceful animals, especially the ones without a home. If there is an opportunity, feral cats may be using your property for shelter.
  • Certain smells: cats are drawn to certain aromas. Pet food and food scraps are notorious for attracting the unwanted attention of cats.
  • Mating: stray cats may be roaming around your home as they look for a mate. Consequently, pregnant female cats may try to use the easily accessible nooks and crannies of your yard as a safe place to birth their litter. 

How Do You Stop Cats From Getting Into Your Garden?

Cats are cunning and stubborn animals. If they want to be somewhere, like your garden, they will find a way. To stop cats from getting into your garden, you may need to try out a few different things before finding the perfect solution. 

1. Create a Cat-Friendly Zone

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. When it comes to stopping cats from getting into the garden,  this little phrase may be helpful.

Creating a cat-friendly zone is all about striking a compromise. If you are struggling to keep cats out, you may just need to control where in the garden they go. One way to do this is to plant catnip plants in a particular area. Then, the cats will more than likely spend time in that zone instead of other parts of the garden. 

You may also consider making a sandbox for the cats. With a sandbox, the cats will stop using your garden as their bathroom. Yes, you’ll still have to pick up the cat droppings, but at least it will all be in one place. 

2. Talk With Your Neighbors

When it comes to keeping cats out of the garden, a straightforward tactic to develop a solution could be to talk with your neighbors. If feral cats are the issue, you can work with your neighbors to devise a plan.

If your neighbor’s cats are the issue, you can tell them you no longer want their cat roaming in your yard and work with them to find a solution. 

See more: How to Get Rid of Neighbor’s Cats in My Yard

3. Contact the Authorities or Removal Agencies

Depending on where you live, there may be laws, regulations, or restrictions on how you can deal with feral and stray cats. It’s essential to learn about the measures you can take before taking action. 

We recommend checking for community programs that deal with stray cats. Supporting local cat shelters that help spay, neuter, and care for stray cats can also be beneficial. 

cats in garden

How to Deter Cats from Your Yard

Here are five tips to keep cats out of the garden – while you might not always be able to prevent them from coming in, these tips should help you get rid of them. 

1. Create Odor Barriers

A cat’s sense of smell is extremely sensitive. It’s probably its sense of smell that is bringing it to your yard in the first place. The good news is that there are plenty of smells that cats dislike. 

With certain cat repellent for the yard, you can create odor barriers that discourage cats from entering the area. Commercial cat repellents often use the scent of a predator’s urine, such as a coyote or bobcat, to scare the cat away. Most often, commercial repellents come in a granular form that you can sprinkle around the problem area. 

Certain plants also have odors that cats do not enjoy. Coleus canina, or the “scaredy-cat plant,” is an example of one of those plants that cats dislike. Other examples include:

  • Rue
  • Lavender
  • Lemon thyme
  • Pennyroyal

Intense citrus aromas are also somewhat effective at repelling cats. Essential oils of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit can also be used to create a cat repellent solution. 

2. Try Out Physical Barriers

Physical barriers around your garden or certain plants might be the solution you have been looking for. Using chicken wire to protect certain plants is one option. You can cut a hole in the chicken wire and install the material around the base of the plant. 

You may also consider adding certain types of mulch around your plants as a barrier. For example, when it comes to going to the bathroom, cats prefer loose dirt. 

To discourage cats from going to the toilet in your garden, you can mulch with stones, holly-cuttings, eggshells, and pine cones. 

3. Install Sound Barriers

Cats have a much more impressive range of hearing than humans. As a result, they can hear certain noises that we cannot. This is super helpful for using sound barriers to repel cats from your garden. 

Electronic cat deterrent devices create a high-frequency noise inaudible to humans, but that is unbearable to cats. These devices are super easy to use. Simply install them in your garden, facing in the direction of the problem area, and let the motion-activated frequency scare the pesky cats away. 

Motion-activated sprinklers are another solution to consider. The sudden noise of the sprinkler, accompanied by the burst of water, is sure to scare away any cat that may be trying to eat your plants or use the bathroom in your garden. 

4. Get Rid of Attractive Smells

Keeping your yard and garden clean and scent-free is a great way to discourage cats from coming around. Otherwise, there may be certain smells in your yard that are attracting cats.

  • Do not feed your pets outside. The smell of pet food may attract the unwanted attention of feral or stray cats.  If you must feed your pets outside, make sure to bring their bowls inside afterward and not leave any pet food behind.
  • The aromas from cooking outside may attract cats into your yard. After you use the BBQ, for example, make sure to thoroughly clean it and not leave food scraps behind.
  • As you take the trash out, make sure your trash cans are secure. Easily accessible trash may attract stray cats to your home.
  • If you notice that a certain cat is going to the bathroom around your home (aka marking their territory), wash the area with an enzyme-based odor neutralizer to wash away the territorial markers.

5. Remove Opportunities for Shelter & Hunting

Stray cats may try to use your home for shelter. It is not uncommon for cats to find shelter beneath patios or underneath backyard sheds. If you suspect that stray cats are seeking refuge on your property, we recommend you remove the opportunities for shelter. 

Make sure to board up all easy access points to areas like the garage, sheds, decks, patios, and porches. Areas like these are prime locations for female cats who are getting ready to deliver their litter. 

Cats may also try to use your garden as their hunting grounds. That is why it’s important to keep your property clutter-free. Remove brush, debris piles, and other locations that may be offering shelter to mice and other rodents. You may also want to set out traps and poison to control the rodent population that is frequenting your home. 

How to Keep Cats Away From Plants

As gardeners, we have enough problems regarding insects, birds, rabbits, and other pests eating our plants. The last thing we need is a cat feeding itself from our garden. Let alone using the area as its bathroom. 

Remember these tips to keep cats out of the garden:

  • Regularly apply cat repellents (whether they be commercial or homemade) around your garden to discourage cats from coming around. Remember to reapply after rainfall and watering.
  • Install physical barriers to prohibit cats from eating certain plants or entering your garden in the first place.
  • Keep your property free from aromas that may attract cats to the premises.
  • Declutter your property so stray cats and rodents cannot use hidden areas as their breeding grounds.
  • Collaborate with your neighbors and local authorities to assess the stray cat problem in your neighborhood. 

Finally, remember that planning is key. If you need to stop cats from eating your plants and frequenting your property, then you need an action plan. These tips should help!


How do I stop neighbors’ cats in my garden?

If your neighbors have pesky cats that won’t stop coming into the garden, eating plants, and going to the bathroom, then it may be time for an intervention. Any of the tips mentioned above will help. 

If there is a certain passageway that your neighbor’s cat is using, we recommend securing that area first. Afterward, we recommend utilizing some sort of cat repellent to discourage the cat from returning. 

What is the best cat repellent for the garden?

When it comes to keeping cats out of the garden, we are big proponents of a multi-pronged approach. We think the best cat prevention strategy is one that uses multiple techniques at once—for example, regularly spraying cat repellent around your plants and creating barriers around areas that may be used for shelter. 

We recommend experimenting with different combinations of cat prevention techniques until you find the most effective combination. 

How to stop cats from pooping in the garden?

Cat poop (or any animal’s poop for that matter) is the last thing you want to see in your garden full of fruits and vegetables.

If you want to learn how to stop cats from pooping in your yard, you might give them a better area to use as the bathroom, and incentivize them to use it. Creating an outdoor litter box or using outdoor cat repellent may help your problem. 

You may also consider using physical barriers and spraying odor-neutralizing products to stop cats from repeatedly peeing and pooping in your garden. 

Does vinegar keep cats away? 

Due to its strong odor, you can use vinegar as a cat repellent. To keep cats out of the garden, you may consider spraying diluted (or full-strength) vinegar around fences, posts, garden decor, garden edges, and the plants themselves.

Using vinegar spray is also helpful indoors. You can use a solution of vinegar to keep cats away from certain areas and furniture. This is especially helpful for keeping cats off of certain surfaces, like the kitchen countertop, and from using your nice furniture as their scratching post. 

What are some homemade remedies to keep cats away?

When it comes to home remedies to keep cats away from your garden, there are all sorts of interesting options. Garlic, lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, pepper, and lemon are all aromas that can help repel cats. 

You can experiment with different mixtures to create an aroma-based repellent that is both effective at keeping cats away and safe for your plants. Remember, repellents should be reapplied after heavy rainfall and watering. 

Do coffee grounds keep cats away?

Like vinegar, the strong aroma of used coffee grounds may repel cats from your garden. Over time, you can save your spent coffee grounds and disperse them around the edges of your garden to serve as a cat repellent. We like this strategy because it’s two-fold: the coffee grounds help deter cats from the yard and are biodegradable, enriching your soil. 

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