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Six Plants That Repel Cats From Your Garden



A lot of the plants that work well to repel cats have a pleasant aroma, are harmless to cats, and have plenty of other uses in your garden.

cat in the garden
Key Takeaways

Cats using your garden as a litter box can cause serious damage to plants and introduce parasites.

Lemon Thyme, Catnip, Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, and Mint are effective plants to repel cats from your garden.
Avoid using Geraniums, Coffee, and Lemongrass, as they can be toxic to cats.

Cats can be cuddly, adorable creatures that make fantastic pets. But, when they’re using your garden as their litter box, it can turn this precious pet into a real garden pest. A cat’s instinct is to rub up against objects and dig to bury their waste. This can cause some serious damage to your plants. Their waste can also introduce parasites into the garden, harming your plants.

Thankfully, you don’t have to cover your garden in thorny bushes or nasty-smelling plants to repel cats. Many aromatic, useful plants you’d like to have in your garden do a great job of repelling cats! Discover the six best cat-repelling plants and how to plant them.
Lemon ThymeLemon Thyme planted to repel cats

The strong lemon scent of this herb makes it an excellent plant to repel cats from your garden. Thyme is non-toxic to cats and won’t hurt them. But the smell will help deter them from making your garden their litter box. To grow thyme, plant it in a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. Thyme prefers drier conditions, so it’s best to let the soil completely dry out between waterings. Water thyme with 1 to 2 inches of H2O when the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Depending on where you live, this might mean bi-weekly waterings. Consider harvesting it in early spring when the buds first appear.

Catnipcatnip repel cats

Cats adore catnip. If you strategically plant some catnip outside your main garden, you can lure cats away from your precious plants without harming the cat. It’s the gentlest plant you can use to repel cats because you’re providing them with something they love.

Choose a partially sunny location with four to six hours of sunlight daily. You can plant starter plants or direct sow seeds in well-draining soil. Give the plant 1 inch of water per week for the first year. At this point, only water if the weather has been particularly dry. Catnip tends to spread. Consider planting it in a container so it doesn’t take over!
Oreganooregano plant repels cats

Oregano has a powerful scent that humans may find pleasant but repels garden pests such as cats. Oregano has many culinary uses and is a wonderful addition to Italian dishes. To grow oregano, plant the seeds in a large pot or section of your garden where it’ll get at least six hours of sunlight. Water the plants once a week with 1 to 2 inches of water and harvest throughout the spring and summer by cutting off a few sprigs and stripping them of the leaves.

A field of growing lavender repelling cats

This sweetly scented plant has a large variety of uses in the garden. Its aroma makes it ideal for soaps, candles, and perfumes, and you can dry the buds to make a delicious tea. One of its greatest uses is as a pest deterrent since its aromatic buds repel cats from your garden. In addition to repelling pests, it attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, so if you live in USDA zones 5 through 10 — the best climate for lavender — it’s a great plant to include in your garden!

Lavender prefers well-draining soil so the roots don’t rot. Plant your lavender in a full-sun location with at least six to eight hours of direct light daily. Water your lavender with an inch of water once every two weeks until it blooms, then increase to weekly waterings of ½ to 1 inch of water.

Close-up shot of Rosemary Leaves

Rosemary makes a great cat deterrent because it’s a non-toxic plant with a potent scent that’s off-putting to deer, cats, and insects. Besides repelling cats, rosemary is a beneficial culinary spice. It’s nice to have a few plants in your garden to break off a sprig for your next poultry meal. To grow rosemary, plant it in a location with at least six hours of sunlight daily. Water your rosemary when the top 1 or 2 inches of soil are dry. Prune the sprigs to remove dead branches, encouraging fresh growth.

Close-up photo of water droplets on mint leaves, showcasing the beauty of nature

One of the most distinctive smells in the garden is mint. Mint is a great herb for repelling various pests — including cats! Like most strong-scented plants, cats avoid mint whenever possible, so it’s a great herb to add to your garden if you want to keep pesky felines out. Mint can be agressive, so it’s best to prune mint plants well to prevent them from taking over your garden. Another option is to plant mint in containers to stop their spread. If you want to add this herb to your garden, it’s best to plant mint transplants in a spot with at least six hours of sunlight. Water your mint once weekly with 1 to 2 inches of water to keep the soil moist. You can harvest your mint frequently from spring through summer until the plant flowers in the late summer.

Plants to Avoid
Bright pink geranium flowers

There are some plants that you may consider using to repel cats that you should avoid. Geraniums are an excellent cat deterrent because of their powerful smell. But they’re also toxic to cats and can cause them to vomit if the cat eats them. Coffee is another aromatic plant toxic to cats, so it’s best to avoid it. This goes for sprinkling coffee grounds on your soil and the actual plant. Lemongrass repels a variety of pests, including cats. Lemongrass itself isn’t toxic to cats, but the oil is, so to be safe, avoid this plant when looking to repel cats from your garden.
Repel Those Cats!

Repelling cats from your garden doesn’t have to harm the cats or your own nose. Many plants that work well to repel cats have a pleasant scent to humans, are harmless to cats, and have plenty of other uses that make them a great addition to your garden.

Have you had success repelling cats from your garden? Leave your favorite plant in the comments below!

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