Natural Oils That Repel Cats

By Susan Paretts

Cats are known for their curiosity and can get into some tight spaces. Prevent your cat from going into certain places in your home and garden, or from inappropriately eliminating, with the use of natural, essential oils. These natural oils derived from plant sources smell pleasant to people but not to cats. Spray these oils directly on furniture, walls, solid surfaces and even garden plants to deter cats from coming into these areas.


Citronella essential oil, made from the leaves of the lemongrass plant, has a strong citrus-like aroma. Because cats have a strong sense of smell, they do not like strong scents and will avoid areas with potent aromas. This oil has no toxic properties and will also repel insects. To repel cats, make a solution of 20 drops citronella oil mixed with 200 mL of water and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake it well and and spray it on surfaces in your home or directly on plants in your garden. In addition, place citronella-scented candles around your garden as a long-lasting cat deterrent.


Derived from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which is native to Australia, eucalyptus essential oil has a strong, menthol-like scent. Cats dislike pungent, minty scents and will avoid it. To repel cats, soak a cloth in eucalyptus oil and place it in an area you want a cat to stay away from. Rub cloths sprinkled with eucalyptus oil on solid surfaces to coat them with the oil. You can also tie the eucalyptus-scented cloths around plants to repel cats.


Use citrus oils including lemon, orange and lime essential oils to repel cats. These oils are extracted from the peels of the citrus fruits and have a strong, slightly bitter scent. Cats dislike these oils, which many natural cat repellents contain. Soak cotton balls in these oils and place them in the locations you want your cat to avoid. You can make a solution of equal parts lemon and orange oils and mix it with three parts water. Shake the mixture and spray the solution on plants, fabrics, walls or other surfaces. You can also rub citrus peels directly on these surfaces to distribute their natural oils or grind them up and sprinkle them around plants to deter cats.


You should never spray an essential oil of any kind directly on a cat to repel it. Cats lack the enzyme glucuronidase and cannot metabolize these oils, according to the "Handbook of Essential Oils." These oils can cause poisoning if ingested or absorbed through their skin. Spray these oils safely around your home, which will naturally deodorize pet odors while keeping cats off counter tops, plants or other areas. Look for these ingredients in commercially made pet repellents or make your own with them. Use these natural oils alone or in combination with each other to make a custom scent to repel cats.