How to Repel Cats from Your Garden

Sometimes it seems as if cats enjoy a garden as much as we do. This can be a problem, however, because cats enjoy gardens for far different reasons. They seem to think a garden bed makes a perfect litterbox or play area just for them, and they don't seem to be at all concerned with our own plans for the garden. Independent creatures that they are, how can a gardener repel cats from the garden?

Cats are famous for being finicky. They'll avoid areas that smell bad to them, they don't want to walk on something bristly or prickly, they want nice, loose soil for digging, and most cats despise getting wet. So thinking like a cat will help you find methods to repel cats.

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To repel cats with smell, try planting rue, lavender, geraniums, wormwood, lemon thyme or pennyroyal in their favorite places. Citrus is a strong cat repellent, so try scattering orange or lemon peels around your plants. Bloodmeal will repel some cats, as will ammonia. Fill small jars with household ammonia, then poke a few holes in the lids before sealing the jars and partially burying them in the garden, refilling as the ammonia evaporates.

The smell of ammonia will make most cats think that the garden is another cat's territory and they'll tend to stay away. There are also products available that, to a cat, smell like predator urine. If a cat thinks a fox, coyote or bobcat has been visiting your garden, the cat will stay away from the area.

If a cat cannot easily dig in the soil, it will go elsewhere to find an outdoor litterbox. Adding a layer of mulch to a garden can be enough to repel cats. Most cats won't dig in stones, so a layer of stones in a flower bed will usually keep them from digging. Before planting a bed, lay chicken wire over the soil, then use a wire cutters to open holes in it large enough for the plants. Cats will not be able to dig through the wire and will go elsewhere to do their business. The chicken wire will be hidden by your plants as they grow.

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Scattering pine cones with sharp edges amongst the plants will also deter some cats, as they don't like walking on the prickly pine cones. Thorny plants also repel cats.

Most cats don't like to get wet, so if you catch cats in the act of defiling your garden, they can be chased away with a spray from the hose or a water gun. There are also motion-activated devices available that will repel cats with a spray of water when you're not around.

A repellent that works for one cat may not work for another. Some cats are more persistent than others and will be reluctant to give up their favorite outdoor litterbox. Try several methods to repel cats from your gardens to find which works best for the local kitties.

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