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8 Natural & Safe DIY Home Remedies to Keep Cats Away

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat peeping

8 Natural & Safe DIY Home Remedies to Keep Cats Away


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Maybe you have a pet at home that doesn’t appreciate the neighborhood cats on his turf. Perhaps you have a bird feeder and enjoy watching your avian friends and all their antics. We understand why you’d want to keep the unwanted felines out of your yard. Estimates are that outdoor and feral cats kill upward of 2.4 billion birds a year.1

Responsible cat owners won’t let their pets roam free. According to the American Pet Products Association, over 42 million households in the United States have at least one house cat.2 That’s not even counting the feral ones. Experts believe that figure can go as high as 160 million animals.3 With unowned felines, you have to take matters into your hands.

Fortunately, there are many ways to deter nuisance cats from your home. Some are harmless, while others require caution when using them. Remember that many of them are opportunistic, looking for a free meal where they can find it. If you make your yard inhospitable to them, they’ll move on to easier pickings without a lot more effort on your part.

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The 8 Natural Home Remedies to Keep Cats Away

1. Citrus

citrus fruits
Image Credit: Obodai26, Pixabay

Citrus smells, whether it’s lemon, orange, or grapefruit, are sure to turn away any cat—even the most curious feline. It’s a good thing, too, seeing as these fruits contain ingredients that are toxic to them. Besides the acidity being irritating to them, the essential oils and the psoralen are toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and potentially dermatitis, as the psoralen is phototoxic. Use with caution.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: Lashi98, Shutterstock

Apple cider vinegar is also acidic and can cause skin irritation if an inquisitive cat gets too close. The odor will deter the animal, but like citrus, it can cause more harm than good. It can cause damage to their digestive system if large amounts of undiluted apple cider vinegar are ingested.

Hopefully, the strong smell is enough to send a nuisance feline out of the area. Be careful when using it since it can also hurt plants.

3. Gravel

orange cream kitten walking on gravel stone
Image By: Julissa Helmuth, Pexels

If you know where the rogue cat is entering your yard, it’ll give you the ammunition for another effective deterrent. Cats are sensitive to the surfaces on which they walk. Try putting pea gravel at the spot. It’ll feel just like it would for you to tread on it with bare feet. It will hurt!

The advantage of this method is that it is non-toxic. You can even use it to spruce up your landscaping.

4. String

If you have a fenced-in yard, you know that it isn’t a barrier to a cat. However, you can make it harder for them to get inside by running a string along the top. It will surprise them, first of all. That might be all that it takes. It’ll also put them off balance, which will make your backyard even more uninviting to a curious feline.

5. Secured Garbage Cans

If feral cats are raiding your garbage, you have two options. One, you can keep the cans inside of your garage if you have them. The other thing you can do is to secure them with clips or bungee cords. Without the opposable thumb that raccoons have, this trick will put up a formidable barrier that will make your yard less welcoming to hungry felines. In a pinch, use bricks or cement blocks.

6. Flowers

Image Credit: Irinka-osinka, Shutterstock

Cats vary in their sensitivity to different smells. You may have luck planting flowers with a pungent scent, such as geraniums or marigolds. Try putting them in areas where the intruders are entering your backyard. You can combine this tip with our previous one about gravel to make it even more unappealing for your feline visitors.

However, you should keep in mind that geraniums are classified as toxic to dogs and cats, as the essential oils can cause gastrointestinal upset, ataxia, muscle weakness, and in larger exposures, depression or hypothermia.

7. Squirrel Baffles

Cats are just as attracted to the bird feeder as squirrels. Luckily, the baffle you install to keep these seed-loving pests away can also deter cats. Likewise, put the feeder away from trees or other access points to make it more difficult for them to harass the birds that you’re trying to attract. You can also use an upside-down foil pan.

8. Water

It doesn’t get much simpler than this home remedy. You don’t have to be around a cat long to learn that they don’t like getting wet. Therefore, one of the easiest and safest ways to keep them away is with a spray bottle or squirt gun. Just a little spritz is all it takes. If it’s your pet you’re trying to keep off the countertop, try to hit her when she’s not facing you. Some pets are sensitive to this kind of discipline.

How to Keep Cats Away From Your Garden

Even though cats are carnivores, they may also visit your garden to munch on some plants or squash them down by laying on them. The essential thing is to make sure you’re not setting out the welcome mat for them. Animals, like people, need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. If you follow our advice above, you’ll have eliminated at least one source.

We also suggest keeping the vegetation around your gardens trimmed. The same thing applies to plants growing around other outbuildings or wood piles in your yard. They provide shelter for rodents, a favorite prey of cats. It also gives them fewer places to hide. Cats are often secretive by nature. Eliminating hiding places can provide an effective deterrent for making your yard their stomping ground.

Sometimes, you need the big guns to get rid of a curious feline. That’s where a motion-activated sprinkler can come to your rescue. Many come with timers or automated mechanisms that turn on at dusk. You’ll likely find that one good dousing is probably all it will take to fix the problem. You’ll also have an excellent way to get rid of other pests like raccoons.

We understand if you just want to discourage them instead of scaring the cats away. Another option you use is to lure them to pet-friendly areas where you don’t mind them hanging out in your yard. That’s the place for you to put a sandbox or plant catnip—and add those cat-friendly elements to attract them to that spot, instead.

garden sprinkler
Image Credit: bluebudgie, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts About Cat Repellents

We love cats. Unfortunately, they can make themselves unwelcome sometimes if they harass our pets or kill songbirds. Luckily, many home remedies are also more humane. They make a point that your yard isn’t the best place for them. That’s the real value of these methods.

However, don’t feel guilty for taking your yard off their map. Often, it is the wisest and eco-friendliest choice.

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