How can I Keep Cats out of the Garden?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Whether one likes or dislikes cats, it is generally agreed that they are often a nuisance in the garden. While cats do not mean to be harmful, they can uproot plantings and cause other damage by digging or rolling in the garden. Fortunately, there are a number of humane and non-toxic ways to keep cats out of the garden. Never resort to toxins or poisons, as deliberate poisoning of cats is illegal in many areas, in addition to being harmful to a large number of animal species and your garden.

Cat owners who struggle with their own cats in the garden may want to consider making a small cat garden, with plants such as catnip, cat mint, cat thyme, and valerian. A cat garden should also include a small sandy spot for rolling and playing. In addition to keeping your cats out of the other parts of the garden, a cat garden will also keep cats in your garden, which may make neighbor relations more pleasant. Since a cat garden tends to get scraggly with use, you may want to consider tucking it in an out of the way corner of the garden.


Just as there are plants which attract plants, there are also plants which can be used to keep cats out of the garden. These include lavender, rue, geranium, and lemon thyme. These handsome ornamentals can be scattered around a garden to keep cats out, or, better yet, they can be planted as a border surrounding the entire garden. While not a sure way to keep cats out of the garden, these plants will certainly make it less appealing.

Since poop is one of the main reasons people have an issue with cats in the garden, try laying down large, flat stones to discourage digging. You can also establish ground cover in the form of dense creepers which are difficult to dig through. If you are encouraging ground cover to grow, cover it with netting or cages while it establishes itself. Keeping the soil moist also helps to keep cats out of the garden, although this is not a great option in low-water areas.

Several garden companies sell products which are designed to stop digging by cats and other animals, using flexible spikes embedded in a mat which can be placed in a flower bed. The spikes will not hurt the animals, but they will not welcome attempts at digging, either. Homemade versions of this product can be made with skewers or disposable forks, although these should not be used in beds which cats will jump into, as they may hurt the animals.

Some gardeners also use sprays to keep cats out of the garden. Lemon or orange essence and pepper are both good cat repellents. Of course, a motion-sensitive sprinkler is also a good deterrent, assuming that the feline visitors do not like water. Since some cats actually enjoy playing with water, this last technique may not always be successful.

If you notice an ongoing problem with a particular cat, you can get in touch with the cat's guardian. While he or she may be loath to confine the cat indoors, perhaps a cat garden could be established to address the situation. Since remaining on good terms with neighbors is generally good practice, always approach a neighbor in a friendly way, rather than being accusatory or emotional.


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Post 5

Don't always believe what you read. My cat loves the scent of lavender.

Post 4

A word of caution to anybody reading this article -- the motion sensing sprinkler seems like a great idea to keep cats away, but remember that it can see you, too! It reacts to any motion, and after getting sprayed more times than I'd like to admit, I tried the cat garden thing instead.

Lo and behold, the cat garden with catnip and stuff worked way better than the sprinkler anyway, because it didn't have a limited range. I guess this goes with what ella3 says -- positive reinforcement really is the way to go. Instead of trying to repel cats, try to attract them somewhere else.

Post 3

In conjunction with the use of cat repellent and the other tools listed in this article, owners can also think about providing cats with outdoors play areas that will keep the cat engaged and allow the owner to watch over the cat while outside. There are playhouses and structures that are created for outside use, and they often feature climbing implements and toys that will keep most cats entertained. They can be found relatively cheaply, and they give cats a lot of freedom to explore.

Of course, there are always those cats that really just enjoy playing in the garden, and for those cats it would be necessary to use the methods outlined here. It is important to remember that most pets don’t respond well to negative responses, so the owner would also need to train the cat not to venture into the parts of the garden that are off-limits to it.

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