How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Cats can wreak havoc in gardens, both by eating and digging up plants and by using the soil as a litter box. A cat’s feces can also pose a health risk, which is why keeping them out of your garden is highly important, especially if your garden is full of fruits and vegetables. In this article, we’ll be going through step-by-step how to keep cats out of your garden!

Why Cats Are a Garden Nuisance

Before we jump into how to keep cats out of your garden, we’re going to cover the ways in which cats cause issues in the garden.

Cats can cause problems in the garden in a few ways.

The first is by digging and eating plants that they find appealing, like Cat Mint, which looks beautiful with its puffy purple blooms, but unfortunately is a huge cat attractant. However, the main problem doesn’t lie in a cat’s digging or eating of garden plants, but rather in their tendency to use backyard gardens as their personal litter box.

Due to their carnivorous diets, cat poop can contain harmful parasites that you don’t want to expose your family or vegetable garden to. The main parasite found in cat feces is the embryos of a parasite called, Toxoplasma gondii, which has been linked to mental illness in exposed adults and difficulty in school in children who are exposed.

Cat feces also has a potent smell that can give your backyard a terrible scent when a cat uses your garden frequently (click here to learn how to make your backyard smell better).

How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Now that we’ve covered why you should make an effort to keep unwanted cats out of your garden, in this section, we’ll be walking you through step-by-step how to do it!

1. Change the Texture of Your Garden Beds

There’s a reason you always find cats using the bathroom in kids’ sandboxes and pawing through sandy kitty litter — it’s because cats prefer soft surfaces that they can easily bury their feces in. This all comes down to their instincts of covering their scent from predators. A garden with a surface that is prickly is less inviting to a cat than pure dirt.

Cover the top layer of your soil in…

  • Pinecones. Push a pine cone deep into the dirt with the spiky sides up around your plants and all throughout your garden.
  • Broken eggshells. With the jagged sides up, put eggshells all around your plants and the surface of the garden bed. Eggshells are both uncomfortable on a cat’s paws and act as fertilizer for your garden.
  • Sticks. Stacking sticks on the top layer of your garden soil is a natural cat preventative.
  • Chicken wire. Measure and cut chicken wire to cover the entire surface of your garden bed. Be sure that you cut appropriately-sized holes in the chicken wire to allow adequate room for your plants to grow!
  • Chili powder or cayenne pepper. The strong, burning scent of the chili powder or powdered cayenne pepper will prevent cats from even coming near your garden! This is also safe to use in your veggie or fruit gardens, as it’s natural!

These textures will force a cat to search elsewhere for a more comfortable “litter box”.

2. Try Special Fencing

It may seem counterintuitive to fence in your garden to keep out cats, but with the right kind of fencing, you can deter feline intruders. You’ll want to install fencing that won’t give cats a good grip. Avoid wooden fences, especially, which can give cats a good grip using their claws.

We recommend installing a wire mesh fence that is at least 6 feet tall, with an overhang.

3. Give the Cats Their Own Garden

Outsidepride 1000 Seeds Perennial Nepeta Mussinii Catmint Herb Garden Seeds for Planting
  • Catmint flower seed is fast to establish and you may see blooms the first year if the flower seeds are sown early. The flower spikes will cover the plant and have many small violet blue flowers.
  • Catmint grows as a perennial plant reaching 12 inches in height in USDA zones 3 - 9.
  • Catnip Nepeta needs soil that drains well or it can develop crown rot, but it tolerates drought and heat well.
  • After blooming, trim the plant back to neaten the appearance and to promote another bloom. The flowers are rich in nectar and will attract many beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Sowing Rate: Approximately 1,000 seeds covers 20 square feet or 3 - 4 seeds per plant. Start the Nepeta seeds in spring once frost danger has passed.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As we mentioned briefly earlier in this article, cats are enthralled by Catmint. If you’ve tried everything to keep your cats out of the garden, consider giving them their own garden complete with yummy Catmint and sandy soil! Ensure that their little area is on the opposite side of the yard from your garden beds, especially if your garden is a vegetable or fruit garden.

4. Install a Motion Sensor Sprinkler System

If there’s one thing that cats hate, it’s water. If there’s another thing cats hate, it’s being surprised. A motion sensor sprinkler system provides both of these nuisances to keep cats out of your garden!

Our favorite motion sensor sprinkler is the Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler:

Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler
  • ULTIMATE YARD PROTECTION - Defend your yard with our powerful motion-activated sprinkler that deters animals and pests effectively.
  • SENSOR-ACTIVATED YARD SECURITY SPRINKLER - The heat and motion-activated sensor detects movement up to 40 feet away, triggering a burst of water to keep unwanted visitors away.
  • DUAL-PURPOSE SPRINKLER - Our motion-activated sprinkler not only repels animals but also allows you to add additional sprinklers to the enforced area for complete coverage.
  • ANIMAL REPELLENT OUTDOOR - Say goodbye to expensive fences and inconvenient netting. Our motion-activated sprinkler provides a safe and humane method to keep deer, cats, and more away from your garden.
  • TIMED WATERING FEATURE - Besides deterring animals, our sprinkler also features a timed watering function, allowing you to conveniently water your garden for 30 minutes at a time.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Orbit Motion Activated Sprinkler is a 120-degree sprinkler and features 3 modes: All-day, All-Night, and 24/7 Mode to keep cats out of your yard any hour of the day! The intelligent sensor technology helps to save battery by turning off when there is no motion detected, and automatically and quickly spraying water as soon as something crosses the sensor.

What We Like:

  • Automatically detects animal movement and surprises unsuspecting animals with a splash of cold water
  • Relatively affordable for the excellent quality and features
  • 3 settings to customize the automatic sprinkler modes

5. Make Your Garden Smell Unpleasant (to Cats!)

Cats have a strong sense of smell that can be bothered by certain smells produced by plants. Lavender and Lemon Thyme are two plants that cats can’t stand to be around, so by planting a few of these plants throughout your garden, you can help to keep intrusive cats at bay.

Cats will also steer clear of citrusy smells, such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime. Place the fresh peels throughout your garden beds to deter cats.

6. Get a Dog

The feud between dogs and cats is one that won’t soon cease. Whether you already have a dog, or you’re looking to add a new furry member to your family, just the presence of a dog will prevent a stray cat or other community cats from wandering into your garden. (Just be sure that your dog won’t dig in the beds!)

Final Thoughts

When it comes to how to keep cats out of your garden, there are a few ways you can go about deterring them. The first is by changing the texture of your garden to make it less soft and more prickly on a cat’s paws. Other ways to prevent cats from coming into your yard is by installing a fence, keeping a dog in your garden, and using citrusy smells and plants that cats don’t like to smell around your garden.

No matter which preventative method you choose, we hope our guide helped you!