The Best Cat Repellents

Outdoor cats are happy wanderers, who often stop by uninvited. Dirt is fair play. If you're a gardener, you might want to watch where you step if neighborhood cats are paying you a visit. Indoor cats aren't always the most tidy creatures, and they can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Even if you're a cat lover, you may consider your treasures off limits, and deterrents can help you keep them that way.

Hunting cat on a tree
Cat standing on tree branch.
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In the House

Aluminum foil
Roll of aluminum foil on counter.
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Even if you're a lover of all things cat and consider cat hair to be an accessory, you may have certain things in your home that you feel are off limits to these curious folk. If your cat tends to jump on the table or counter, consider covering the surfaces with aluminum foil, or running some double-sided tape in the area she's likely to land. You can balance some lightweight cookies sheets on the edge of the counter or table. The movement of the sheets, or the noise, should they fall, is likely to keep kitty away from the restricted areas. A more natural deterrent is to provide something equally appealing, such as a multilevel cat tree, or cat shelves mounted to the wall.

Around the Property

Automatic sprinkler
Close-up of sprinkler in grass.
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Cats don't obey signs that advise them to keep off your lawn. They can be the kings and queens of trespassing. Consider what may be drawing them. If you're drawing birds with an assortment of feeders, you're probably drawing cats, too. Certain deterrents can make your yard unfriendly to these four-legged trespassers. Motion activated sprinklers, or noisemakers can send neighborhood felines running. If you can identify an entry point, consider placing human hair, a natural deterrent at this point, or make a bed of pine cones, which aren't terribly friendly to kitty's tender paws.

In the Garden

Peeled Oranges
Oranges being peeled on counter.
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There's little more appealing as a freshly tilled garden to a feline who sees the entire world as her litter box. Fresh plantings can be especially vulnerable to a feline wanderer. To protect your garden, consider pushing plastic forks into the soil or mounding pea gravel around your garden foliage. Neither of these will hurt a cat's feet, but they're unpleasant, and they may send kitty in search of another location in which to do her business. Cats aren't fond of citrus, so placing lemon rinds or orange peels in your garden can ward off these offenders. Certain plants are naturally offensive to a feline. Rue, lavender, pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme should all send unwanted felines packing.

Repeat Offenders

Man watering yard
Man hosing down his backyard.
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Although not necessarily a deterrent, removing any trace of a cat's previous visits may keep them from returning for a repeat performance. Hose down any areas that have been sprayed by unwanted felines. You can purchase commercial cat repellents, or if you're concerned about chemicals, use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Cement walls and lawn furniture are targets for cats who may want to back up and leave a bit of a calling card. Spray these items liberally with the commercial or vinegar mixture and rinse well to keep cats from finding their way back like a bunch of feline Hansels and Gretels.