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Does Black Pepper Keep Cats Away? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on July 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Black Pepper

Does Black Pepper Keep Cats Away? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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While cats are adorable animals, if you’re not a cat lover, you don’t want the smell of urine and feces from the neighborhood cats in your well-kept yard. There are many choices when it comes to keeping cats out of your yard; black pepper is said to be one of them.

Black pepper is not a safe or humane choice to keep cats away, as it can cause an uncomfortable experience if they inhale or ingest any by mistake, leading to eye, airway, and mouth irritation in some cats.

Should I avoid using black pepper then, and what are the alternatives? We’ll answer these questions and more in the article below.

3 cat face divider

How Effective Is Black Pepper at Keeping Cats Away?

There are many scents that cats shy away from, and black pepper is one they dislike. Like humans, smelling the black pepper makes the cat sneeze and irritates their eyes and upper respiratory tract. If they swallow any, they may drool and vomit. Since it’s unpleasant and irritating to the cat, a whiff of black pepper sprayed into your yard may repel the cats and send them to someone else’s yard instead. But it also may cause them discomfort and should not be anyone’s first choice.

Is It a Safe Choice?

Black pepper is not a good or ethical option for repelling outdoor cats, and finding an alternative to keep them away from your yard is more suitable. The strong smell of the pepper may irritate their nose and eyes, or lead to drooling and vomiting if licked or ingested, and although it may not do permanent harm, it’s not a humane deterrent.

Since it’s not recommended to use black pepper to keep cats out of your yard, we’ll give you a few safe alternatives.

York chocolate cat on green grass in the backyard.
Image Credit: Ciprian Gherguias, Shutterstock

Alternatives to Black Pepper

There are many alternatives that you can use instead of black pepper to keep cats away from your yard.


This option may not be the most visually pleasing one, but a well-designated fence will do the job of keeping most stray, feral, or neighborhood cats away. The fence may be made of wood, panels, lattice, chicken wire, or be your own unique DIY solution. Chicken wire fencing can be placed around the plants and the whole yard, or even buried under the first layer of soil to prevent cats from walking and toileting there.

Commercial Repellents

There are many commercial cat repellent products based on other flavors and scents cats dislike, such as citrus fruit and apple vinegar. Make sure the product does not contain black pepper or other chemical compounds that may be harmful to cats or other animals. Never use essential oils to repel cats, as they are toxic for them.

Water Sprinklers

Sprinklers serve a double purpose. They will water your plants and keep them lush in the warmer parts of the year, and they may also serve a purpose in repelling feral, stray, or neighborhood cats. They should have a motion sensor and will likely keep most cats away from your yard after one wet experience.


Rosemary isn’t toxic to cats, and they hate the pungent smell of the herb. They also hate the texture of the leaves. It’s a natural, non-toxic, cruelty-free way to keep cats out of your yard, but it may not work for all cats. It’s also very mild, easy to grow, and can be used for cooking.

As you might already know, lavender has many different uses. From essential oils to bath bombs and calming sprays, lavender is used in several ways. It’s also effective for keeping cats out of your yard since the majority don’t like the smell. It can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea if ingested, which cats don’t tend to do, so that risk is not very high, so it is cruelty-free as well.

Here are a few other natural remedies you can use other than black pepper.

Some herbs are toxic to cats, and you shouldn’t use them to run cats out of your yard, as there are safer alternatives.

Cat in garden
Image Credit: Katarzyna Kosianok, Pixabay

Herbs That Are Unsafe for Cats

Although these herbs range in toxicity, we suggest avoiding them when using plant deterrents for cats. Lilies are particularly dangerous for cats, and even a very small amount may lead to kidney failure. These plants should be nowhere near a cat: 

  • Lilies
  • Epazote
  • Sago palm
  • Azalea
  • Tulips
  • Mint

3 cat face dividerFinal Thoughts

Yes, black pepper can keep some cats away, but not comfortably or humanely. It can irritate their eyes and noses, cause drooling and vomiting, and it is best to go with another safer and more ethical alternative. We’ve given you plenty of options that are cruelty-free, non-toxic, and work well to keep the felines out of your yard without hurting them.

Featured Image Credit: ka_re, Pixabay

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