How to keep cats out of your garden

Humane Ways to Cat-Proof Your Garden

TDS Reader Solutions

How to Conquer Debt eBook

Problem Cats

I am wondering if anyone has an inexpensive way to keep cats out of our garden. Many of our neighbors own cats. I don't want to hurt the animals, but I would like to discourage them from using my flower beds as their litter box. Any humane ideas for cat-proofing my garden would be greatly appreciated!
Janet A.

"Mark" the Garden

My hint contains no DEET. However, you will need to keep an eye on your kids even though it is pretty well disguised.

  1. Take a selection of smallish containers (empty glass baby food containers are fantastic)
  2. Fill them up with Cloudy Ammonia
  3. Bury the containers up to the rim in your flower bed so the top of the container is level with the soil.
  4. Make sure you spread these sporadically throughout your garden bed.

Cats and dogs absolutely loathe the scent of ammonia (smells like other animals urine) and will stay away. Try spacing them out a little bit at first, perhaps only where you find the animals have been. Only experimenting with this will you be able to judge how many you need, etc. It also depends on the animals sense and tolerance of smell. Also, just go around and refill the containers as they deplete. It's cheap and easy!
Ashley K.
Sydney, Australia

Hidden Fencing

To keep cats out of flowerbeds, put a section of wooden lattice under the soil and plant flowers, etc. in the holes of the lattice. Cats won't dig because they will be unable to do so!

Blood Meal

Several years ago, I had one persistent cat that insisted on using my front flower bed, digging up new plantings in the process. A friend told me to use blood meal. Cats hate the smell (so do I). It may take more than one application, since cats will return to the same place repeatedly. It is important to remember that blood meal is a potent organic fertilizer, so it should be used sparingly, only in the areas needed.

I sprinkled it lightly over mulch and never mixed it into the soil. It stinks, and your neighbors may wonder what's gone rotten in your yard, but it is the only thing I have found that works.
Cynthia W.

Related: Keeping Squirrels Out of Your Garden

Give Them a Shower

The one thing that I'm aware of that is a really good cat repellent (for about 99% of cats, not quite 100%) is a shower of water. If I had your problem, I would rig up a motion sensor aimed at the garden that set off a sprinkler. Should work rather well, but there are rare cats that love water!
Jonathan B.

Natural Repellent

Adopt a Dog!
Bob S. in Richmond, VA

Prettier, Too!

I have this same problem so I went to a second hand store and bought as many stoneware plates, saucers, cups, and bowls as they had. Because I bought so much, they were willing to give me quite a price break. The trick is to break them into medium-size pieces and spread them around your beds. Breaking them was so fun, too. Be sure to wear safty glasses. So far the cats have not been back. It looks really cool with all the colors.
Merri L. in Alaska


They hate citrus smells. Next time you eat an orange or grapefruit, toss the peels in the flower bed or the area they like to use. This will repel them.


We have also had problems with cats in our gardens. My husband, an avid organic gardener, has managed to keep them out by sprinkling the garden with ground black pepper. When they step on the pepper, it "burns" their sensitive pads. The pepper is unnoticeable as it blends in with the dirt. We purchase pepper from Costco in bulk to make this cost-effective cat deterrent.
Lisa D. I.


This works against snails, too. Try marigolds! They smell funny and our cats have always studiously avoided the areas where they are planted. A frugal and pretty way to cat-proof a garden or flower bed.

Remove Strays

I may have an unpopular suggestion, but it is illegal to allow cats or dogs to run loose in the city. I believe most cities have this ordinance. I have had this problem with my neighbor and I simply call the Humane Society and they bring out a humane trap (free), they bait it (free), and you watch it to see what you catch. They will then take the offending animal or animals out to the Humane Society and hold them the required 5-7 days in the stray ward. If no one comes to claim them, they either are placed in the adoption ward or they are destroyed. I figure if someone has a pet that they allow to run loose, they are being negligent and irresponsible. If they truly care about their pet, they will check at the Humane Society to see if their pet is there (5-7 days is a long time to NOT notice a pet missing).

By the way, so that you don't think I'm some unfeeling person, I am a dog trainer and I participate in dog Rescue (taking and placing unwanted dogs). I volunteer periodically for my local Humane Society as well. Someday I will have a cat (my son is a cat person), but that animal will never set foot outdoors.
Priscilla B

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step

  • Use these tips to keep dogs out of your flower beds.
  • Gardening on the cheap is simple. Just visit the TDS Frugal Gardening Guide and we'll show you the many ways frugal gardeners maintain beautiful, bountiful gardens for less.
  • You tend your garden with care. Do the same for your finances. Start weeding out that debt and pruning that budget with the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have so you can begin to grow your money.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book