15 Plants that Repel Cats from your Garden

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It seems there’s no limit to the damage cats can cause in your garden. If they’re not digging up your flower beds, they’re terrifying the wildlife or leaving unpleasant ‘gifts’ in the middle of the lawn.

If your garden is starting to become popular with pests of the feline variety, there’s a number of plants that can help keep them away. Because any cat owner will be able to tell you that, yes, cats are very independent, but they’re also exceptionally fussy!

Whether domestic or stray cats, they won’t be hanging around for long if you’ve got some of these 15 cat repellent plants.

1. Lavender


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We love it, cats hate it! Lavender is one of the best cat deterrents and thankfully, it looks great in any garden. It grows year-round and gives a gorgeous purple hue to your garden beds. Lavender thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant.

Cats hate the scent of lavender, so plant it at the front of your garden to stop them from entering in the first place.

2. Rosemary


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Rosemary can add flavour to your meals, and help keep cats out of your garden! This herb is non-toxic to cats but, with their sensitive noses, they seriously dislike the smell. Inexperienced gardeners will be pleased to know that rosemary is very easy to grow – it needs well drained soil but copes well in a shady spot.

3. Common Rue


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Rue is another evergreen shrub that cats aren’t a fan of. Common rue (ruta graveolens) has an unpleasant odour and a bitter taste that cats won’t like. This shrub grows to around 2 – 3 ft high and prefers full sun. Once established, it can grow even in poor soil. It requires very little maintenance and will germinate in around 1 to 4 weeks.

4. Lemon Thyme


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Creating a hedge around your garden using lemon thyme will almost certainly deter unwanted cats! Lemon thyme is a member of the mint family and has a number of uses both in the garden and the kitchen.

With a strong flavour, lemon thyme can be added to poultry, seafood, vegetables, stews and soups to improve the taste. While us humans love it, cats do not, often choosing to avoid gardens that grow this evergreen herb.

5. Oregano


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Oregano is another herb that’ll bring flavour to your meals and some peace to your garden! Oregano will ward off cats, mosquitos and a range of other pests, so it’s a great all-rounder.

For maximum effectiveness, plant oregano within a herb garden containing other cat repellers, such as lavender, lemon thyme and mint.

6. Citronella


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Citronella is a natural deterrent for cats as well as other pests such as mosquitoes. For the smell of citrus to be released, citronella needs to be brushed up against by the invading feline. For this reason, you should plant citronella at the entrance to your garden, where cats need to brush past it.

7. Scaredy Cat Plant


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As the name suggests, the scaredy cat plant (coleus canina) offers a humane way to ward off unwanted cats. Producing a strong ammonia-like smell, the scaredy cat plant will make your garden unappealing for visiting cats and dogs. 

The smell is worse when an animal brushes up against this plant, so it’s best planted somewhere that cats may accidentally touch it. 

Interestingly, this plant is a member of the mint family. This makes it exceptionally easy to grow in either full sun or partial shade. It can be planted in containers and moved around your garden if needed.

8. Catnip


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Catnip (or catmint) works as a barrier between a cat or your garden, but not in the way you might think. Cats are actually highly drawn to this herb, as the oil found in the leaves works as a feel-good drug on their nervous system. Cats become very mesmerised by catnip, so are unlikely to enter your garden after coming across it.

Plant catnip right at the entrance of your garden and you may find cats forget about trying to enter your garden altogether!

9. Curry Plant


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Curry plants have a curry-like smell, but unlike many of the plants featured, they aren’t used in the kitchen. The aroma is slightly spicy, a scent that cats really dislike.

This plant is fairly easy to grow, with most well-drained soils suitable. It prefers full sun or partial shade, but doesn’t like cold temperatures. It looks beautiful in beds and borders thanks to the vibrant colour, and has the added benefit of deterring unwanted felines!

10. Geranium


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Another plant that cats hate, the stunning geranium! Known for their bright red flowers and pure white blooms, geraniums add vibrancy to any garden. In fact, it’s thought that having a garden full of geraniums can lead to you selling your home faster!

Not only are they beautiful, geraniums have a scent that can help ward off unwanted cats. Cranesbill geraniums are the most effective, and should be planted throughout your flower beds. You could also create a barrier of geraniums at the areas where cats enter your garden.

11. Pennyroyal


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A member of the mint family, Pennyroyal can repel a variety of unwanted pests, including cats. In the summer, it produces pale purple flowers.

Pennyroyal is easy to grow, with a potent scent that cats dislike. It prefers full sunlight or dappled light, and should be grown in moist, rich soil.

12. Thorn Bushes


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Cats dislike anything spiky, and will likely find somewhere else to go if they are regularly coming up against thorny plants.

Rose bushes are a great option and will give your neighbours serious garden envy (there’s no need to tell them the real reason they are there!), or you could opt for blackberry shrubs. Use a prickly plant as a border defence to prevent the cat from entering certain areas of your garden.

13. Chives


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A low maintenance perennial herb, chives are the perfect garnish for a number of dishes. They produce pink flowers which can be used to add colour and flavour to salads!

The mild oniony scent and flavour means they’re also strongly disliked by cats. While it’s unlikely that chives alone will deter cats from your garden, they are very easy to grow and, when combined with other deterrents, can be very effective.

14. Garlic


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It’s not only vampires that dislike garlic! Cats too, find the smell unpleasant, meaning they’ll likely find another garden to invade.

This culinary staple is fairly easy to grow. Plant individual cloves in the autumn months, ideally in a spot that gets lots of sun, then water during dry spells. Garlic is ready to harvest once the leaves have turned yellow.

15. Holly


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Cats dislike spiky surfaces, preferring to walk on soft soil. A slightly different suggestion is to cover your soil with holly leaves, twigs, pine cones or chicken wire. Sprinkling holly leaves on top of mulch can also prevent cats from defecating on this part of your garden.

While this technique won’t prevent cats from entering your garden in the first palace, it can stop them getting to specific areas, and from using your prized flower beds as a litter box!

For added effectiveness, sprinkle fresh coffee grounds around your borders.

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