She’s the prettiest little thing. And tiny. And I feel like a complete heel when she miaows at me so adorably.
But … she is a demon huntress.
And she – our neighbours’ cat – is sitting under the bird boxes in our garden just waiting for them to falter. She always goes for the littlest and loveliest like this tiny fledgeling we rescued twice last year before she finally got him!
Sadly, there are lots of reasons to want to keep cats out of gardens and yards. There is of course the pooing on any newly dug bare bed or hole – which is gross – but our main reason for keeping cats out of our garden is because we’re trying to garden organically.
Birds and frogs – who the cats also go for – are the organic gardener’s best friends. One little baby blue tit can eat 100 caterpillars a day. So the 8 baby tits in one of our garden bird boxes last summer could devour over 800 bugs a day for before they fledged. Wow.
That’s some serious natural pest control. And frogs and toads help out by munching slugs, caterpillars and ants. But the birds and other wildlife won’t stay – and they certainly won’t nest – under constant attack from the demon huntress. (However pretty she may be).
So we are officially repelling all the neighbourhood cats out of our garden by trying to make it as naturally cat repellent as we possibly can.
Regular squirting with a water pistol and loud hissing does help but the most effective way to keep cats out and away is a naturally cat repellent garden with a good range of cat repellent plants and herbs.
A Naturally Cat Repellent Garden
Luckily there are a good range of plants and herbs that cats hate either because of the smell or because of their thorns.
So we can use these cat repellent plants to :
- Keep cats out of smaller gardens
- Keep cats away from feeding & nesting wildlife
- Stop cats from pooing in flower beds and especially in vegetable gardens from which we’re eating things.
I’ve put together a list of 12 very useful cat repellent plants and herbs with notes on how they are best used. Do check them out – and save for later – if you want to repel cats naturally from your garden or yard.
12 Cat Repellent Plants
Thyme is a wonderful cat repellent herb to grow in any garden as it is also a natural antibiotic. Like lots of herbs it’s best off in pots, which is handy for repelling cats as you can move the pots around to different parts of the garden to protect nesting birds. It is also a natural mosquito repellent.
Thyme is not a fussy plant so is usually quite happy being moved. But if you want to grow it as a little hedge it is easy to grow thyme from cuttings so you don’t have to fork out for lots of plants.
Fragrant lavender is another super useful cat repellent plant for organic gardeners. Its easy to grow and bee friendly and its dried flowers are of course one of the best ways to get rid of moths. A lavender hedge can be used to keep cats away from e.g. vegetable gardens and is another natural mosquito repellent.
Rosemary is another cat repellent plant that is also a handy natural antibiotic in the kitchen. You can easily grow Rosemary from cuttings even in poor soil and as it will grow into a decent sized shrub its a good plant to put near back fences to keep cats out. If you’ve got a big rosemary plant, you can also put cuttings on bare beds – and freshly dug holes!! – to stop cats pooing.
Lemon baalm is another cat repellant plant that cats hate even though it smells beautiful to us. It’s good for natural remedies and is also attractive to pollinators so a good companion plant for fruit and fruiting veg such as courgettes. Pots of lemon balm – it will spread too much unpotted – can help repel cats from vegetable gardens.
If you’ve got a big garden or yard in the right climate, lemon grass at strategic entrance points can also be a good natural repellent to keep cats out.
AKA geraniums (but not to be confused with the other type of geranium) also give off a strong smell cats hate. I have to confess I hate it too!! But if you don’t, pots of pelargoniums are a flexible cat repellent plant you can move around the garden or backyard patio to keep cats away. Pelargonium citrosum can also repel mosquitos.
Coleus Canina is the cat repellent plant you often see marketed in gardening stores as “Cat Shoo” or “Scaredy Cat”. It does seem to be highly naturally repellent to cats but … there is a but … that’s because it smells like dog urine!! So you’ll only want to plant it if you can bare the smell yourself or its tucked away somewhere you won’t go.
Cats are of course contrary creatures and some will unquestionably ignore the most carefully planted cat repellent fragrances!! Thorns are a different matter. If the neighbours cats are coming in over a wall, a beautifully thorny rambling rose could be the answer. I’ve planted one on my back wall but its got a bit of growing to do yet so I’ve put down rose prunings on the most frequently used ways cats come in.
Traditionally mixed thorny hedges with holly, hawthorn, blackthorn and wild roses are unbelievably wildlife friendly – and help prevent flooding – and can be much more effective than a fence at keeping cats out. You can again use thorny cuttings to block cats favourite tunnels under fences into gardens.
Curry herb is often said to be a good cat repellent plant in hotter and drier climates and is fairly drought resistant. They can be quite attractive but they can also become a high maintenance “weed” with strong root growth and widely spreading seeds. So definitely do your homework on this one locally before considering.
Rue has traditionally been regarded as a good cat repellent plant and has been used in all sorts of natural remedies but it is also poisonous so probably not one to grow unless you know what you’re doing.
So, there you go 12 naturally cat repellent plants that can help keep cats out of your garden and backyard and keep them away from wildlife.
Cats being the god like and contrary creatures they are, no single plant on its own will be the perfect DIY cat repellent solution but a combination of cat repellent fragrances plus thorny plants used with a bit of imagination – in conjunction with a good water pistol – can keep the cats away.
Give these a go and do let me know how you get on. If you found them help please share with friends.
And for more simple non-toxic organic gardening tips do all explore my other posts on
- Growing Vegetables Organically
- Simple Herbs To Grow At Home
- Organic Gardening Tips For Beginners
- Natural Weed Control Tips