Top 9 Cat Repellent Plants to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Are cats destroying your garden? These cat repellent plants will help you to stop them!

catnip can serve as a barrier between a cat and your garden

You will learn:

  • Why you should plant cat repellent plants
  • Top 9 plants that repel cats from your garden:
  1. Catnip
  2. Rosemary
  3. Lavender
  4. Lemon thyme
  5. Geranium
  6. Oregano
  7. Rue
  8. Coleus canina
  9. Thorny bushes
  • Other plants to deter cats
  • Spices that repel cats
  • More effective natural ways to protect your garden from cats

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Why should you plant herbs that repel cats?

Cats are cute and cuddly, but they can also be a nuisance. They like to dig in your garden, eat the birds that visit your feeders, scratch your outdoor furniture and even poop into your garden beds or pots on your patio. 🙀 Gross!

There’s no way around it: felines are predators by nature and if you want to enjoy gardening, you’re going to have to deal with cats without hurting them.

So, what do we do? 

The best solution is prevention!

In order to protect your garden from cats, plant cat repellent plants around it. These plants not only repel those pesky felines, but they are pretty to look at and smell amazing too!

And remember, planting not just one, but a variety of cat-deterring herbs will increase the chances to keep cats out and give you plenty of fresh ingredients to use while cooking!


Top 9 plants that will keep cats away from your garden:

1. Catmint (Nepeta cataria)

catnip plant

If you’re looking for a natural way to keep cats out of your garden, plant catmint (or “catnip” as it’s more commonly known) as a barrier between a cat and your garden.

You see, cats are extremely attracted to this herb because Nepetalactone (oil that’s found in the catnip’s leaves) acts on their central nervous system like a feel-good drug – they become so mesmerized by the scent of catmint that they forget about going after anything else in sight! 

Will it work for all cats? No, a catnip barrier is not guaranteed to stop all trespassing furry friends from getting into your garden. According to, just 60% of cats are affected by catnip.

You can buy live catmint plants or catnip spray & dry catnip combo on Amazon delivered to your door.

Watch how catmint effects cats in this YouTube video by Cole and Marmalade.

You can learn how to grow catmint, as well as the majority of herbs mentioned in this article, such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, oregano, peppermint, etc. in my Guide to 40 garden herbs.


2. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

rosemary plant

One of the best things you can do to keep cats away from your garden is to plant fragrant evergreen rosemary around it. Rosemary is a very aromatic, pungent, and somewhat prickly plant with needle-like leaves, so it will repel cats for sure! Side benefit: you will have plenty of rosemary on hand for all your roasting, grilling and marinating needs.

If you have an old large rosemary bush, take some cuttings and lay  them on bare garden beds and freshly dug holes to stop cats from using your garden as a litter box! 

Another good thing is that rosemary is harmless to cats.

Read related:

8 succulents that are safe for cats

Useful Cat-deterring Tip

Fruit peelings from lemons, grapefruits, and oranges help repel cats. So place them at borders near plants vulnerable to cat-related damage – it costs nothing yet could save your garden plants.

You can also place some citrus peel on the ground around the base of a tree with a bird nest to deter cats from climbing it.


3. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

lavender herb perennial

Lavender has a sweet smell that can’t be beat. It’s also the perfect cat repellent, keeping your yard free of stray cats and unwanted pests like deer. Easy to grow lavender can make a nice hedge around your vegetable garden. But take note: lavender isn’t safe if ingested by cats and dogs – just wanted you to know in case you have a curious cat at home who loves nibbling plants.

Read related:

6 plants toxic to cats


4. Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus)

lemon thyme plants

Growing lemon thyme as a hedge around your garden is an easy and natural way to keep cats out.

Growing this herb in pots also works well because you can move these plants around the garden, depending on which areas need protection most from one of our favorite furry friends! Thyme isn’t harmful for kitties either.

Try this for natural cat deterrent

Cats can eat bananas and mustard! 

But they probably won’t want to. 

Both produce distinct smells that most felines don’t tolerate well.

Hm-m, should we try banana peels and dry mustard powder in the garden to deter cats?

Read related: How banana peels and other kitchen scraps can enrich your garden soil.



5. Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)

geranium plants - good cat repellant plants

Geraniums have a scent that is pleasant to humans but not so enjoyable for cats, so plant geraniums to keep cats away from your yard and garden. Having potted geraniums by your front door will steer away stray cats from urinating in this area. In addition, the bright red flowers or white and pink blooms make a house look welcoming.

Just keep in mind that geranium is mildly toxic to cats


6. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

herbs: oregano

It’s not just cats that’ll be repelled from your garden when you plant oregano in it! Oregano wards off many other pests too!

To make sure your cat-repelling efforts are maximized, plant oregano as one component of a thriving herb garden that includes other herbs that deter cats such as  rosemary, lavender, mint, lemongrass and lemon balm. Not only will this keep out pesky critters but also infuse the air in your garden, as well as your meals with its wonderful flavor.

Just be aware that oregano is toxic to cats if ingested. I doubt that cats will want to chew on it, though.


 7. Rue (Ruta graveolens)

Rue plant - repel cats, but toxic to cats


Often grown in borders or rock gardens because of its blue-green delicate leaves, rue has traditionally been regarded as a good cat repellent. Its foliage has a pungent aroma when crushed and leaves have a bitter taste, even rue’s genus name comes from the Latin word meaning bitterness or unpleasantness. Be aware that rue is poisonous to cats, so don’t grow it if you’re inexperienced with this plant.


8. Coleus canina (Plectranthus caninus)

Scaredy cat plant


The Coleus canina is an effective pest repellent that emits a distinct skunk odor. This perennial plant, also known as the Scaredy cat plant for its extreme smell, which is off-putting to cats and dogs, becomes even more smelly when touched or disturbed in any way by animals.

For those who are having problems keeping their yard free of felines this could be very beneficial but might not be so pleasant if you want to enjoy your garden!


9. Plants with prickly leaves or thorns

Admiration dwarf barberry bush


Grow plants with sharp leaves or thorns as a natural deterrent for cats. Thorny hedges, such as holly, hawthorn, roses, barberry, thorny blackberry, tangelo, prickly pear, agave, blackthorn – can be a great way to keep cats away from your garden. You may even find that they work better than fences in some cases!

Additionally, by planting thorny, spiky, dense bushes or hedging you can create an effective barrier to deter not only cats and stray animals, but human intruders too.

Spices that deter cats

The odors from spices like pepper, curry and cinnamon may repel cats from your garden. However it’s probably not a good idea to use cayenne or other peppers for this reason because it could harm cats if they try eating any of them! 

Cinnamon, on the other hand, is a safe spice that is not toxic to cats (unless it’s highly concentrated like in essential oil).

Related reading:

Learn more about spices and how they differ from herbs.

More plants that repel cats

Other plants that can protect your garden from cats are lemon balm, peppermint, mint, lemongrass, citronella, curry herb, and penny royal.

Learn in depth about lemon balm and peppermint in this article.


Other ways to deter cats from your garden


In addition to planting herbs and flowers that deter cats you can:

1) install motion-activated sprinklers outside: they’ll scare cats off with water every time they approach! (THIS IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO KEEP CATS FROM YOUR GARDEN!)

motion activated sprinkler to deter cats and other pests

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler with Day & Night Detection Modes (offered by Amazon)

2. Remove birdhouses, feeders, or other objects that will attract birds in order to reduce stalking from stray cats

3. Sprinkle cayenne pepper, chili powder, or hot sauce on top of soil before planting anything else so that it’s mixed into the dirt – this is an old trick but still works well!

4. Mix some pebble or lay a chicken wire or mulch on the top of garden bed

6. Use garlic spray around areas where there’s been damage done by cats in order to discourage them from coming back again

7. Hang orange or lemon rinds on stakes around the perimeter of your garden – these fruits are known to be unappealing to most animals, including cats!  Or place citrus rinds on the bare garden bed ground to deter cats from pooping in it.

Final thoughts on best cat repellent plants

With the right outdoor cat repellent plants you can keep your garden free of pesky felines. I hope this article gave you a few great options for keeping cats out of your yard while also providing some much-needed beauty to your backyard. It is important to know that some cat repellent plants do not work for every cat. The most effective plants are the ones with strong fragrance.

Have any questions about these plant choices? Leave me a comment below!


Best cat repellent plants

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Cat repellent plants that deter cats naturally

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