How to Repel Cats From Your Yard

You don't have to have a problem with cats to have a problem with them using your garden as a litter box, or them using the hood of your car as a lounge chair. In fact, you might even be the owner of the cat who's causing you problems. Whatever the situation, the following tips will help you to safely (and humanely) repel cats from your yard.

Remove Temptations

Cat. Photo © Flickr user Jorge Gonzalez

If you're a cat, a low-hung bird house looks like a buffet; a bare patch of soil looks like a litter box; and standing water looks like the ideal spot to stop and take a drink. Try to see your yard as cats see it, and remove the things that make it attractive to them.

Plant Things They Don't Like

Lavender Plant
Lavender Plant.  spooh/E+/Getty Images

Cats aren't fond of rue, lavender, geraniums or coleus canina. Work these plants into your landscape design to create a garden that's pretty to look at, but repellent to cats.

Remove Plants They Do Like

Leaves of peppermint plants
Peppermint Leaves.

Ana Rocio Garcia Franco / Getty Images

Have mint or catnip growing in your herb garden? Consider replacing them with something else. Cats are drawn to both. If you feel bad about tossing your plants, you could always gift them to a neighbor who has cats.

Save Your Scraps

Used Coffee Grounds
Used Coffee Grounds. TheRachelKay/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Keep your citrus peels and coffee grounds and spread them throughout your garden to send cats on their way. They hate the smell of both. A nice benefit to this approach: used grounds happen to be a terrific fertilizer for acid-loving plants, and slugs hate citrus peels, too.

Mulch with Poky Materials

Pinecones.  Manuela Moser/EyeEm/Getty Images

Replace your bark mulch with pine cones, holly leaves, rose clippings or rock chips. They don't feel good underfoot, and will encourage cats to spend their time elsewhere. If you'd like to keep your bark mulch, just add a thin layer of the previously mentioned materials on top (egg shells work well, too, and they're an excellent fertilizer).

Trying to keep cats off your car? Drape a spiky plastic door mat or runner on the hood when you park, until you've broken them of the habit of sitting there.

Discourage Digging

Densely-Planted Garden
Densely-Planted Garden. Jacky Parker Photography/Moment/Getty Images  

Fill in the bare spots in your garden with more plants, decorative rocks or garden statuary. Exposed soil is just begging to be used as a litter box. Have certain spots in your yard that have become the bathroom spot of choice? Lay down a piece of chicken wire or a spiky plastic doormat. They won't do cats any harm, but they won't feel good to walk on, either.

Discourage Hunting

Leaf Pile
Leaf Pile. Elena Raising/EyeEm/Getty Images

Clean up any brush piles and clutter in your yard; cats will see them as the perfect place to hunt mice. Then, make sure all of your bird feeders and bird houses are too high for cats to get to easily.

Feed Your Cats Indoors

Cat Eating Out of a Bowl
Cat Eating Out of a Bowl.  viadans/iStock/Getty Images Plus

If you have cats of your own, keep their food in the house. An outdoor food dish will attract neighborhood cats – and plenty of wild animals, too.

Hose Them Down

Woman With a Garden Hose
Woman With a Garden Hose. Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images  

Train cats to stay off of your porch furniture and out of your vegetable garden by spraying them with water whenever you catch them in the act. A few sprays with a garden hose or a squirt gun will quickly modify their behavior.

Unmark Their Territory

Front Door
Front Door. saulgranda/Moment/Getty Images

Dealing with a neighborhood cat who insists on marking your doors as his territory? Reverse the behavior by giving your doors a thorough cleaning each and every time he does it. An enzyme cleaner will remove all traces of his markings, so he's less likely to come back and re-mark his territory again (cats re-mark any spot that they can smell their odor on)

Remove Sources of Shelter

Locked Garden Shed
Locked Garden Shed. Mike Whitby/EyeEm/Getty Images

Make sure feral cats aren't sheltering in your yard by securing your shed and any other outdoor buildings that they may be able to get into. If you have a crawl space under your porch or your house, also make sure these areas are secured. Work with animal control or your local no-kill shelter to trap, spay/neuter and release the feral cats in your neighborhood. This will prevent a population boom, and should minimize spraying, especially if you have them fixed, while they're young.