How to Choose the Best Cat Repellent
Whether you’re a cat person or not, there’s no denying that those little felines can wreak havoc in the garden. From digging up flowers, to terrifying wildlife, to leaving unpleasant ‘gifts’ in the middle of the lawn… waking up to find that a neighbouring cat has visited overnight can result in pure exasperation.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to deter cats from frequenting your garden. Plus, many cat repellers will also help deter other unwanted visitors, including foxes and rodents.
So, if you’re fed up of cats causing chaos outside, take a look at the following tips to help you find the best cat repellent for your garden.
First Things First
To effectively deter cats from the garden, we should first try to understand why cats enter our garden in the first place. Cats are cunning opponents, but like most other animals all they really desire is food, water and comfort.
Before investigating other ways to deter cats from entering the garden, you should make sure you’re not doing anything that’s inadvertently welcoming them in.
Taking away a cat’s source of enjoyment will mean they no longer have a reason to enter your garden. Make sure there are no scraps of food left on the ground. For example, crumbs that have fallen out of bird feeders. These will attract rats, and rats will attract cats.
You could also place physical barriers in areas where cats like to lounge.
If you’ve taken away the most obvious food source and you’re still having an issue with cats in your garden, this is when you may need to up the ante. Humane repellents are a great solution, deterring the animal without harming them.
There are a few different ways to humanely repel cats. These include ultrasonic cat repellents, LED lights, specific scents, unpleasant surfaces and chemical repellents. You’ll find more information on these below.
Ultrasonic Cat Repellents
These are one of the most popular and effective ways to keep cats out of the garden, as well as foxes and other wildlife.
What is an Ultrasonic Cat Repellent and How Does it Work?
Ultrasonic repellents can be used around the garden to repel cats, rodents and even bugs. These electronic devices emit a high frequency sound, designed to ward off unwelcome visitors. The high frequency sounds are generally inaudible to humans, but are unpleasant to the animal or pest they are targeting.
Humans are only able to hear frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHZ. Ultrasonic cat repellents operate at around 21-23 kHZ, while those designed to deter pests and insects operate at an even higher frequency of around 65 kHZ.
Some ultrasonic cat repellents will allow you to select the frequency yourself, so you can change the frequency to target specific animals.
PIR Motion Sensors
Ultrasonic repellents come with built-in PIR (passive infrared) motion sensors, and they can be either battery or solar powered. The built-in motion sensor ensures the noise is emitted automatically, when the sensor detects movement. Some units will have an adjustable sensor and can be used to sense different animals. In these cases, the sensor can be adjusted to only detect large animals (such as foxes or large cats), or smaller animals such as rodents and other pests.
Disadvantages of Ultrasonic Cat Repellents
The main downside to ultrasonic frequencies is that some people are able to hear them. This generally only happens when the frequency is set too low, but those with very sensitive hearing may find the sound unpleasant.
It’s also thought that animals can get used to them over time. Some tests have shown that animals and pests soon realise the noise is harmless, reducing their effectiveness.
Finally, ultrasonic repellents are best used in open gardens without many obstacles. Trees, garden furniture and walls can all block the signal, reducing the strength and efficacy.
Pros and Cons of Ultrasonic Repellents
- Can deter a variety of animals
- Easy to use and low maintenance
- Don’t take up a lot of space in your garden
- Animals may become used to them over time
- Some humans are able to hear ultrasonic frequencies – especially if they are set too low
- Garden furniture and other obstacles can reduce the strength of the sound and make the repellent less effective over distances
Other Methods to Repel Cats From Your Garden
Although using ultrasonic frequencies is often the most effective method, there are lots of other techniques that can be used to repel cats. Using a combination of tactics may keep cats on their toes, which will help stop them from coming back. Here are some of the most popular alternatives to ultrasonic frequencies:
Flashing LED Lights
Flashing lights can spook cats. During the day, stringing up some old CDs along your fence line may be a deterrent. These will have to be moved around frequently so that cats don’t get too used to them. Hanging CDs in this way may also keep birds from visiting the garden.
At night time, flashing lights can surprise cats. You can buy units with motion sensors that flash when movement is detected in the garden. These will glint in the sunlight and irritate any visiting felines.
If there’s a specific spot that a cat likes to visit, surrounding this spot with LEDs can help ward them off. Many are solar powered, so there’s no need to turn them on or off, and most are very subtle, not bright enough to disturb you or your next door neighbours.
Using Different Scents
Cats are fussy creatures and dislike overpowering scents. Planting highly aromatic herbs can help keep them away from your flowerbeds. Rosemary, lavender, garlic, citronella and lemongrass are natural, safe repellents.
If you find cats commonly frequenting a certain corner of your garden, rubbing raw onion on the ground and fencing around it could help to deter them.
Alternatively, spreading citrus peel or spraying a homemade solution of lemon and water around your garden can prevent your flower beds being used as kitty litter. For more potency, mix a few drops of citronella essential oil with water and spray around problem areas.
Cats tend to avoid prickly textures. You could place twigs, pine cones or a specially-designed prickly mat onto your beds. These won’t alter the look of your garden, but may be enough to keep cats off your flowers.
Chemical Cat Repellents
Chemical cat repellents can be bought from most pet stores and garden centres, and come in either pellet or spray form. Make sure they are non-toxic and animal safe – chemicals should really only be considered as a last resort.
Also, they’re arguably the most high-maintenance of all the deterrents and it may take a few weeks of constant application until cats get the message.
The other downside to chemical repellents is that they can put off wildlife you are looking to attract, or even upset the family dog!
Cat Repellent FAQs
What is the most effective cat repellent?
Any cat owner will know that our feline friends have a reputation for being a little fussy. For this reason, there’s a lot of cat repellents on the market that work well.
Ultrasonic cat repellents have been shown to reduce the probability of a cat entering the garden by up to 32%, while also reducing the time the cat spends in the garden by 38%.
Cats are also fussy about the surface they walk on, so this can also be used to your advantage. Cats like to walk on soft surfaces and avoid prickly textures. To make your garden less inviting, place twigs, pine cones or a specially-designed prickly mat on your flowerbeds. Whilst these won’t prevent cats from entering your garden, they do a good job at keeping them off your flowers. !
Another way to keep cats away is to use scents they dislike. Cats aren’t fond of strong scents such as coffee, lavender or lemon. Squeeze a few lemons into water and create a spray, then spray the solution around the garden. You could throw citrus peels directly onto the soil. Sprinkling coffee grounds onto the soil can also deter cats.
Finally, ensure your garden is clean. Like lots of animals, cats prefer to use the toilet in the same place every time. Washing the scent away can prevent them from using that spot again.
While no tactic is 100% foolproof, using a combination of techniques, including specifically-designed repellents, should produce good results.
What smell will repel cats?
Cats are far more sensitive to smells than humans and tend to dislike very strong scents. Smells that cats dislike include citrus, lavender, white vinegar (not apple cider vinegar which they actually quite like!), coffee, rosemary, thyme and peppermint. All of these scents can be used around your garden to deter cats from certain areas.
Do ultrasonic cat repellents work?
Studies have shown that ultrasonic cat repellents can be effective when it comes to deterring cats from your garden. Both the probability of a cat entering a garden, as well as the amount of time they spend in a garden is reduced when ultrasonic cat repellents are utilised. Using additional deterrents should improve the results further.
Can humans hear cat repellents?
Ultrasonic cat repellents emit an ultrasonic frequency which humans are generally unable to hear as it’s too high for us. Humans can only hear frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHZ. Ultrasonic cat repellers normally operate at a frequency of around 21-23 kHz, while those designed to deter pests and insects operate at a frequency of around 65 kHz.
Nevertheless, there are cases when some humans can hear cat repellents – particularly if the repellent is set closer to 21 kHz.