Five ‘effective’ scents to deter cats from your garden naturally – ‘they hate the smell!’

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Cats are one of the most beloved pets across Britain, but they can become irritating for many as they visit gardens to defecate and hunt. These pests can also scare and sometimes kill wildlife, especially birds. There are a number of ways you can deter cats from coming into your garden using natural scents.

Zack DeAngelis, the creator of Pest Pointers, explained: “Using scents that cats hate is a great way to deter their poor behaviours to keep cats off your property outside.

“Cats have sensitive noses and can easily be repelled by certain scents.”

Cats are very sensitive to smell and are much more sensitive to smells and odours than humans. Gardeners can use this trait to their advantage to repel cats.

Here are five scents cats hate:


Whilst lemon is a scent loved by humans, according to the expert, “they hate the smell of lemon”.

Zack said: “When used in its essential oil form, it can be very strong and offensive to cats.

“You can create a lemon-scented spray by using lemon juice diluted in water, equal parts of each, and then spray it on the areas you want to keep cats out.”

Gardeners can also use lemon essential oil by adding 10 drops to a spray bottle of water and using it in the same way.

However, keep in mind that lemon is mildly toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA, so don’t let them ingest it or don’t spray too much near them.

White vinegar

One of the “most effective repellents” for animals and insects alike is natural white vinegar, according to the expert.

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He said: “White distilled vinegar is particularly effective for repelling cats.

“The extremely pungent aroma of vinegar overwhelms a cat’s senses and masks any potential food sources.”

If gardeners use apple cider vinegar, it won’t repel them. This is because the scent of apple cider vinegar is actually a bit sweet.

It may even attract cats to the very area you’re trying to repel them from so stick to white distilled vinegar.

Gardeners can dilute vinegar according to your product’s specifications (usually a one-to-one ratio with water) and then place it in a plastic spray bottle to apply near areas where you want to repel cats.


Another common scent cats hate is lavender.

You can use lavender in a few different ways to deter cats from marking or hanging around where you don’t want them, both inside and outside of your home.

Zack said: “Planting lavender in pots or incorporating them into your landscape is an effective way to keep cats away from your property.”


Another culinary herb, the scent of thyme is “offensive” to cats because of its “potent smell”, says the pest control expert.

Planting a combination of thyme, and rosemary will be a nice combination to both repel cats and give you many useful herbs to use for cooking.

Zack advised: “Thyme is quite strong on its own, so you can place its leaves in sachès around places you want to keep your cat from and thus, keep your cat away.

“The scent of thyme is overpowering to cats and doesn’t indicate a food source so cats stay away from thyme.”


Many love the smell of pine to clean with and to scent our homes, however, cats find pine to be “far too strong and will avoid it”, according to the expert

Pine can be used outdoors in other ways to keep cats away from your garden.

Zack advised: “Place bunches or piles of pine needles in areas of your yard where cats seem to enter.

“Cats will dislike the strong smell, but they will also be deterred from walking in those areas because of the unpleasant texture as well.”

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