CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Keeping cats out of your garden

By Rhiannon Rowe, Eagle County CMG 


As a lifelong cat lover, I hate hearing about how much of a nuisance they can be to gardens and yards. Not to mention the stress they can put on the local bird population! Before I jump on my soapbox about keeping your cats indoors, I know that many cats prefer to be outdoors and are not suited for an indoor lifestyle. With that being said, the best we can do is find ways to deter our feline friends from wreaking havoc on our plants. Cats can smell 14 times better than humans so the best place to start would be planting or placing scents around the yard that cats do not prefer. Citronella, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and chives are all common plants that cats are not fond of. Added bonus is that many of them attract bees and smell great to us! Coffee grounds and citrus peels are also a good idea, plan to replace them often to keep the effect going.

There are a few commercial deterrent sprays you can find in pet stores or online. Just make sure they are safe to use around plants before you start spraying. Barriers can also be effective by physically keeping the cat away from your garden although they can make it tough to reach your plants. Netting can help protect your younger plants as well as putting a ring of pine cones or anything prickly around the plant as cats don’t like to walk on surfaces that aren’t soft. A friend of mine likes to put plastic cutlery around her garden and swears it helps!

Water can be used in a few different ways. Motion activated sprinkler systems can work as well as posting up with a SuperSoaker to catch the cat in the act. Cats aren’t fans of water and it shouldn’t take more than a few times for them to realize that they aren’t welcome! Using water to wash away an intact male cat’s urine scent can also help as well as removing anything that a cat is using to mark his territory.

There are several other ways to deter cats from a garden but these are my favorites! If these ideas aren’t helping, it may be time to speak to your neighbors about their cat’s behavior and try to come to an understanding. If you aren’t sure who the cat belongs to or if it is a feral cat, contact your local shelter. They can pick up the cat and check for a microchip. If the cat is feral, they can help you set a humane trap to try and remove the cat from your premises. 

Finally, cats are conditioned to stay in an area that is comfortable and welcoming to them. If there is food present, their hunger is taken care of. If there is loose dirt, they have found a litter box! If there are fun things to chase such as mice and birds, they have plenty of entertainment! Finding ways to take these luxuries away will help the cat realize that they need to move on and find a new place to enjoy.


  1. This has worked well for me. Comes in various sizes. Can be easily cut to different shapes.
    Available on Amazon.

    Homarden Cat Repellent Outdoor - Cat Scat Mat (Set of 10) 16 X 13 Inch Square - Cat Repellent Scat Mat with 1 inch Plastic Spikes - Cat Deterrent Outdoor - Cat Scratch Deterrent 13ft Coverage

  2. Agree with your comment about keeping cats indoors. Much safer for birds and the cat. Would love to hear what is effective for deterring rabbits :) The garden is not an issue, but they eat the grass, damage the lawn with urine, and leave droppings (that I have to keep the dog away from). I tried the fertilizer that Dr. Koski recommended, and it did work for about a month, but it comes with a warning about lead and I didn't want to introduce lead into the yard so I decided not to use it anymore. Rabbit mace is expensive, and only works until it rains or the lawn is watered.

  3. Thank you for the great ideas!