Black cat sitting in garden border

How to deter cats from your garden

Discover the best ways to keep cats out of your garden.

We’re a nation of cat lovers. Many of us own and love cats, but can still be irritated when neighbouring felines come into our garden to defecate and hunt birds. What’s more, because cats are carnivores, their feces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in other types of manure, such as horse and cow. As such there can be risks associated with cats defecating in your vegetable patch.

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There are various ways to discourage cats from visiting your garden and veg plot. Find out more, below.

Because cats are carnivores, their feces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in other types of manure, such as horse and cow.

Mulch your soil

Cats prefer to walk on soft soil and will avoid prickly surfaces. They’re also more likely to defecate in soft soil or compost. Make beds and borders less attractive to them by covering areas of bare soil with twigs, pine cones or holly leaves, or laying down chicken wire. Driving sticks into the ground will have a similar effect. Pots can be mulched with a thick layer of gravel. In some areas, you may consider using groundcover plants to permanently cover areas of bare ground.

Mulching soil with holly leaves, to deter cats
Mulching soil with holly leaves, to deter cats

Grow strong-scented plants

Cats supposedly don’t like the strong fragrances of lavender, rosemary, pennyroyal, chives and lemon balm, and especially coleus, Plectranthus caninus. Dot as many of these throughout the garden as possible, particularly in areas cats keep returning to. Throwing citrus peels and human hair directly on the garden is also said to deter them.

Planting Plectranthus caninus to deter cats
Planting Plectranthus caninus to deter cats

Create an outdoor litter box

You may not want to deter cats altogether but simply keep them off certain areas of your garden. If you want to train your cat to use some areas of the garden instead of others, you could try building your own outdoor litter tray. Fill a shallow box or leave an area of soft, sandy soil, and plant catnip (Nepeta) nearby. Your cat may choose to defecate here rather than other areas of your garden.

Black cat sitting in garden border
Black cat sitting in garden border

Ultrasonic cat deterrents

Cat repellent devices emit ultrasonic sounds audible to cats. They can be used to stop cats from coming into your garden in the first place, or placed in specific areas such as around your bird feeders.

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Ultrasonic water devices can be used to spray a jet of water in the direction of anything that passes in front of it – including cats. Cats hate water, so this might encourage them to stay away from your garden, but you could unwittingly soak other animals, such as hedgehogs, too.

Ultrasonic cat deterrant
Ultrasonic cat deterrant