17 Ways to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Written By Jill Taylor

People love their purring fur friends, but they can wreak havoc on a garden. Cats may wander into your yard or garden due to curiosity, mating, hunting, feeding, and establishing territory. Since cats have incredible climbing and jumping abilities, keeping them out of your outdoor area can be challenging. If cats are ruining your hard work, these are 17 humane ways to keep them out of your garden.

Arm Yourself with a Water Pistol

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It’s pretty widely known that cats don’t love water. If you are around to watch the neighborhood cats invading your garden, it could be helpful to keep a water pistol close by. Please remember to keep the pressure low and squirt near the cat instead of at it.

Install High Garden Fences

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While cats can climb, installing a high fence could be enough of a physical deterrent to stop them from entering your space. Be sure to use a fencing material that isn’t easily climbable. Look for chain link fences at least 6 feet high with 2 x 2 inches of mesh: you can also use an overhang of 2 feet for added security.

Set Up Cat Deterrent Netting

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Much like a fence, adding netting over your garden can be enough of a physical deterrent to keep felines out of your plants. Cats are excellent at jumping high and may find a way into your netting if left uncovered. To keep them from becoming trapped inside the netted area, be sure to make any netting secure on all sides and over the top of the area.

Use Plastic Carpet Runners

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Uncomfortable textures will keep cats from walking on any surface. One option is a plastic carpet runner with the spiky side up to make it awkward to walk on without harming their paws. Other options are pebbles around your garden bed, pine cones, and even mulch.

Scatter Fragrant Items

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Cats have extremely sensitive noses, and smells can send them in the other direction. Fresh orange or lemon peels, vinegar, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus around the garden will repel cats with their strong scents. Using fresh or essential oils also will do the trick.

Install an Ultrasonic Animal Repellent

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Science Direct recommends ultrasonic deterrents as a cost-effective, humane option to reduce incursions by unwanted cats. Ultrasonic deterrents will not prevent all activity, but they can help reduce their frequency and duration. These devices will also help keep other animals out of the area without disturbing any nearby humans.

Cover Exposed Ground

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If you don’t mind cat visitors but don’t want them digging up your garden, you can try covering the soiled area. Large, smooth river rocks will keep cats from disturbing the soil without harming them or making them uncomfortable, still allowing them to visit without being a nuisance.

Plant Cat-Repellent Plants

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Many plants can repel cats, including simple herbs like rosemary, lavender, common rue, lemon thyme, and oregano. For those looking for a floral option, geraniums are widely known pest repellents used as active ingredients in many commercial products, but be mindful that consumption of the leaves can make cats sick. Thorny plants like cactus can be used around borders and natural fences for security reasons.

Sprinkle Used Coffee Grounds

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After having your morning cup of coffee, reuse the grounds in your garden. This will leave a scent in the garden that cats don’t enjoy, though you’ll enjoy the smell of coffee in the breeze. The grounds can also stick to cats’ paws, making them uncomfortable. As a bonus, both used and fresh coffee grounds contain nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and tons of micronutrients, and can be used in your garden as mulch or a slow-release fertilizer.

Secure Trash Cans

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Cats can be quite the scavengers when they’re hungry. To keep cats from looking for leftover food on your property, make sure to keep trash cans secure and lids tightly closed. This will also help keep away other invaders like raccoons, rats, and mice.

Motion Detecting Sprinklers

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Similar to the water pistol concept but without the requirement of being around, motion-detecting sprinklers can be programmed to turn on whenever a cat or other animal enters your garden. These sprinklers will chase them away in the short term and train them not to come back. Just be sure to disable them before you spend time in the garden yourself.

Use a Microchipped Cat Flap

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If you have an outdoor cat shelter that neighboring cats like to come visit, you may want to consider installing a microchipped cat flap. These devices are programmed to only open for a microchip on your own cat’s collar and prevent other cats from making themselves at home.

Fit a Squirrel Baffle to Bird Feeders

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Cats are apex predators and can cause quite a disruption to the ecosystem in an area when they are left outside. You may enjoy feeding the birds to draw them into your garden; however, cats will also be drawn to them for hunting. Instead of leaving bird seeds on the ground, consider putting them up high in a dedicated feeder that’s designed for delicate beaks, and not the paws of other wildlife.

Use Commercial Cat Repellents

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Commercial cat repellents use the odor barrier method to discourage cats from entering your property. Some cat repellent powders use the scent of predators that cats fear, namely, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. Commercial cat repellent can come in granular form, which you simply sprinkle around the problem area. Look for a product that is non-toxic and organic and that will not harm your plants.

Keep Your Garden Clean

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One of the main reasons cats roam is in search of food. To keep them out of your garden, it is crucial to make sure your bins are correctly closed, and there is no access to other food. Also, clean up any feces left by other cats, including your pet. An unassuming piece of poop can set off some serious turf wars.

Hang Wind Chimes or Bells

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If you want a pleasant sound to your ears instead of the ultrasonic sound machines, wind chimes and bells could be a great alternative. These items do the trick by scaring unwanted visitors off, although there is a small chance a cat could get used to the sounds.

Create a Cat-Friendly Area

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If you love cats but just don’t want them in certain areas, creating a cat-friendly space could be a nice option to create peace in your garden. Setting up an outdoor cat shelter and planting catnip or catmint will stop them from exploring no-go zones and help them feel invited into their zone. You can also place litter trays in the communal areas, which will stop them from using the rest of your garden as a toilet.