Homemade Cat Repellents to Keep Your Furniture and Garden Safe (2023)

by Craig Davis Cats

Cats can be such solitary creatures that we’re usually so thrilled when they decide to grace us with their presence. That is, unless they choose to go where they shouldn’t. And since cats aren’t exactly the best listeners, you’ll need to use a different approach to keep them out of these areas: cat repellent. Cat repellents are made of strong scents that cats hate so they act as natural barriers. You can use them to keep your cat from scratching up your furniture, stop them from eliminating outside of their litter box, or shoo the neighborhood cats away from your prized rose bed. A lot of cat repellents are expensive and use harmful chemicals. But you don’t have to! Today we’re going to share our favorite homemade cat repellents that are natural AND effective. Plus, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry!

Natural Smells Cats Really Dislike

As mentioned, the way to keep cats out of certain places is by putting some cat repellent that will smell terrible to them. There are plenty of options, but every cat is different - so you’ll need to find the right one for yours. Here are a few options:

Everything Citrus

Cats are not fans of lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or lemongrass smells. You’ll typically see these artificially added to chemical repellents. Leave a few citrus rinds outdoors or around the house in a bowl and you won’t see kitties around there.


Best known to most folks as the smell of mosquito-repelling candles you break out during the summer BBQs and camping trips, citronella makes cats run. Citronella plants work quite well to deter cats from your yard.


Coffee Grounds

Don’t throw out those morning coffee grounds—spread these or fresh grounds around your plant bed to protect them from feline curiosity.

Onions and Garlic

Both of these incredibly intense smells keep cats away on their own, but you can combine them in a blender or food processor with water to create a plant spray that also wards off plant-harming insects.

Fragrant Herbs

Planting cat-offending herbs is a total win-win; you get to enjoy the fragrance and taste of fresh herbs while solving your cat problem at the same time.

Grow these herbs around your yard, in your gardens, or potted in containers inside your home near feline-forbidden territory:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Citronella
  • Rue
  • Chives

Additionally, you can sprinkle dried herbs outdoors, or place sachets of them around your house wherever you don’t want your cat wandering around.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix apple cider vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a clean, empty spray bottle. You can use this around the house and outside, but not directly on plants.

(Video) How to Make Homemade Cat Repellent

Mouthwash (or Mint Extract)

Cat repellers agree that diluting mouthwash in a spray bottle with water simulates the mint smell cats don’t like. A quarter teaspoon of food-grade mint extract also works.

What NOT To Use

While some resources will tell you that these are effective and safe, many of the ingredients below can be toxic or unhealthy for cats.

Essential Oils

Many recipes call for drops of essential oils in fragrances that mimic the ones we just discussed, however, you must use caution with these. Essential oils are harmful, dangerous, and toxic to cats. Skip the oil and go right for the real stuff.

(Video) Homemade Stray Cat repellent | HOME REMEDY | wanderm0mma

Black or Cayenne Pepper

There are several recipes online advising a mix of black or cayenne pepper with warm water to create a sort of “pepper spray” to deter cats. For one, you can literally mace yourself while creating this concoction if you’re not careful. Additionally, the spray can get in your pet’s eyes when grooming, which will be extremely painful for them.


No one likes the smell of mothballs, especially cats, so many people use these in their gardens to keep them and other critters out of their flowers. First, mothballs are terrible for your flowers, plants, and soil. Second, they’re super dangerous to other animals and can even cause death.

Homemade Cat Repellents to Keep Your Furniture and Garden Safe (2)

I hate those smells too, but please use what's safe for me! I wouldn't know what that is, but these people are telling you...

Homemade Cat Repellent Recipes

By mixing several scents cats don’t like, you increase the chances of one of them being the magic repeller. A spray with a nice scent is especially great for your furniture. But remember to test these sprays on small parts of your furniture or carpets before going full force. You can also spray these mixtures on a paper towel and rub down doors, baseboards, or furniture legs you don’t want scratched. Just take it easy with these recipes at first; the smells may not seem strong to you, but they’ll be dominating your cat’s ultra sensitive scent receptors.

(Video) Natural Cat Repellent | BEST Indoor and Outdoor Repellents for Training Cats | Furniture Spray

Cinnamon, Rosemary, & Lavender


  • 3 tablespoons of each: cinnamon, fresh rosemary and dried lavender
  • 3 cups of boiling water
  • ¾ cups distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  1. Drop 3 tablespoons each of cinnamon, fresh rosemary, and dried lavender into a large heatproof container. Add 3 cups of boiling water, cover the container, and steep like tea overnight.
  2. The following day, pour the mixture into another container using a cheesecloth or coffee filter to strain out the chunky bits. Grab a funnel and pour the strained mixture into a clean spray bottle.
  3. Now add 3/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/4 cup lemon juice to the spray bottle. Shake to incorporate.
  4. Caution: Don’t spray directly on plants.

Vinegar, Soap, and Water


  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dish or hand soap
  1. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water, distilled white vinegar, and clear dish or hand washing liquid soap. Don’t use colored soap as it may stain your furniture. Try to find a citrus scented soap to maximize cat dislike.
  2. Shake this up well to combine and spray outside or on furniture.
  3. Caution: Do not spray on plants

Herbal Spray


  • A mix of your favorite fresh herbs
  • Boiling water
  1. Use your favorite herbs (that also conveniently repel felines) to create a spray to fill your home with beautiful scents that repel cats without the smell of vinegar.
  2. Take your fresh herbs and add them to a large heatproof bowl or container. Pour boiling water over the herbs and steep them like you would tea leaves. Strain the plants out and add the liquid to a clean spray bottle when cooled.
  3. Feel free to spray this anywhere as it’s safe enough for your furniture, children, and other pets.

Bonus! Scentless Cat Repellent

If you are sensitive to smells or have asthma, you can also creating a kitty-safe zone, instead of keeping cats out. Plant a bunch of catnip in a small corner of your yard which will attract the cats there instead of where you don’t want them to go. They’ll go crazy for the smell, but you won’t even notice it.

Homemade Cat Repellents to Keep Your Furniture and Garden Safe (3)

(Video) Is Vinegar a good cat repellent?

Why am I still hanging out in this grass, when there is catVIP, I mean catnip right over there?"

Using any of these options will give you the peace of mind that your cat is safe and well-behaved. It will also keep unwanted cats off your property. These scents are safer (and more pleasant!) for your breathing than chemical alternative, not to mention way more cost effective.

Further Reading:


    What is the most effective homemade cat repellent? ›

    herb rue, either planted or sprinkled in its dry form. Orange and lemon peels (cats dislike citrus smells), cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, & mustard oil.

    How do I make cat repellent for my garden? ›

    Citronella oil is a home made cat repellent that many people have had success with. Citronella is best known as a mosquito repellent, but cats find the Citronella odor to be distasteful. Simply mix one part Citronella oil to four parts water and spray liberally in the troubled areas.

    What smells deter cats from furniture? ›

    Cats dislike eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint – just choose the ones you don't mind the scent of yourself.

    What can I spray on my couch to keep cats away? ›

    Most cats don't like vinegar or citrus; you can try mixing citrus oil or apple cider vinegar with water and spray it on the areas you want your cat to avoid. You should, however, test the spray before coating your furniture to ensure it doesn't cause any spots or damage. Peppermint oil works, too.

    What smells do cats not like? ›

    In particular, cats hate the smell of rue, lavender, marigolds, pennyroyal, Coleus canina, and lemon thyme. So if you have a problem with curious kitties or strays in your yard, consider planting these specimens throughout your garden or along the edges of flowerbeds to serve as a natural cat deterrent (11, 14).

    Does baking soda keep cats away? ›

    A thin layer of baking soda placed on the bottom of the box will help absorb odors without repelling your cat.

    Does vinegar keep cats out of your garden? ›

    Vinegar as a cat repellent

    Spraying Outdoors – Straight or diluted vinegar can be sprayed around the edges of a garden, and on plants, fences, posts and garden décor to keep cats away. Concentrate the spray on areas that the cats frequent or that you particularly want to protect.

    Do cats hate vinegar? ›

    While I love using vinegar for cleaning, cats do not like vinegar. While the scent of vinegar is not a problem for them physically, they just don't like it. Because of that, vinegar can serve as a natural deterrent if there's an area you'd like your cats to avoid.

    Will cinnamon keep cats out of flower beds? ›

    Cats are incredibly sensitive to smell so strong scents such as lavender, peppermint or cinnamon are great for keeping them away. Choose one of these scents, mix it with water and spray it around the garden. While this is just a short-term option, it's cost-effective and non-toxic.

    Does vinegar keep cats off furniture? ›

    Vinegar is an excellent natural cat repellant that can be used to teach your cats where they should and shouldn't be spending their time. You can use vinegar, soap, and water to make a homemade cat repellant spray.

    How do you keep cats off furniture and counters? ›

    How to Discourage Cats from Jumping on Countertops and Tables
    1. Balancing cookie sheets on your counter so they make a scary noise when your cat jumps on them.
    2. Placing tape sticky-side up on the edge of the counter or table.
    3. Placing plastic carpet running “nubs-up” to make the counter surface unpleasant.
    28 Jun 2021

    What to put on furniture to keep cats from scratching? ›

    You may also use aluminum foil or double-sided tape to cover the area. Another method is to spray the couch with a citrus scent as cats dislike the smell of citrus. Encourage your cats to scratch the posts: Sprinkle catnip or spray honeysuckle on the posts.

    Can you train cats to stay off furniture? ›

    Try manual training

    Use a squirt bottle filled with water to chase them away or a clicker for cats and dogs to correct them so they will learn to avoid your furniture. This will take time but it will be well worth it to see that your cat knows where it should and shouldn't play.

    How do you keep cats from scratching furniture with vinegar? ›

    First, dilute the vinegar in water using a 50/50 ratio. Next, spray a very small amount on any furniture that you cat is known scratch. The strong odor of the vinegar should deter them from scratching.

    What smells do cats hate in garden? ›

    Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme. Plant a few of these throughout the garden. (Interplanting can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects too.) Cats steer clear of strong citrus scents.

    What are cats afraid of the most? ›

    Other Cats and Dogs: Dogs top the list for giving cats goosebumps! Cats can get frightened when they notice unknown dogs or cats wandering into their territory. High stress levels can even lead to cats attacking one another. So provide them a secure environment where they can live and roam fearlessly.

    What spice keeps cats away? ›

    Strong spicy aromas like pepper, curry, and cinnamon also tend to ward off cats. However, we do not recommend using cayenne pepper or other pepper flakes to keep cats out of the garden, as this could potentially harm them. Cinnamon is non-toxic to cats.

    Will Pine Sol keep cats away? ›

    3. Pet Pee Deterrent. If you have trouble with your dog or cat peeing in the house, Pine Sol is a good way to stop the behavior in its tracks. Just clean the area that they sprayed with diluted Pine Sol and water.

    How do you stop cats pooping in your garden naturally? ›

    Try orange and lemon peels, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and mustard oil. You can either sprinkle drops directly onto your flower beds or soak a cotton wool around it and place at entry points.

    What are some home remedies to get rid of cats? ›

    To keep cats away from gardens, flower beds, or specific areas of property, scatter fragrant items that don't appeal to a cat's sense of smell, like fresh orange or lemon peels, organic citrus-scented sprays, coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus.

    Will spraying vinegar keep cats away? ›

    Vinegar as a cat repellent

    Spraying Outdoors – Straight or diluted vinegar can be sprayed around the edges of a garden, and on plants, fences, posts and garden décor to keep cats away. Concentrate the spray on areas that the cats frequent or that you particularly want to protect.

    Does vinegar and water keep cats away? ›

    The smell of vinegar can keep your cats away from some specific areas and items in and around the house. Vinegar can work as an effective cat repellent and training tool. Using Vinegar can make you prevent your cats from going to that your favorite furniture or any other area in the house.

    Will coffee grounds keep cats away? ›

    Coffee Grounds

    The strong smell of coffee can be enough to keep cats off of your garden. Simply take your fresh, wet coffee grounds and distribute them around your borders and plants where you want to discourage feline attention.

    How can I stop cats pooping in my garden? ›

    On that note, keep reading for all the effective ways you can stop cats pooping in your garden...
    1. Don't offer them food. ...
    2. Keep flower beds watered. ...
    3. Install an automatic spray. ...
    4. Make it difficult to enter the garden. ...
    5. Use scent deterrents. ...
    6. Install an ultrasonic deterrent. ...
    7. Cover parts of your garden with pebbles and rocks.
    29 May 2022

    Does Irish Spring soap keep cats away? ›

    Yes, Irish Spring soap can be used to repel cats. In experiments, cats don't like to be in the same room as a bar of Irish Spring soap. In fact, cats tend to avoid places where the soap is placed.

    What are cats afraid of? ›

    In the home, cats are often scared of noisy household appliances, especially if they didn't become accustomed to them as young kittens. Vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, printers, washing machines and hairdryers are common culprits.

    Will moth balls keep cats away? ›

    Yes, mothballs will repel cats, but they can also be harmful so it's not something we would advise using. Mothballs are often used in gardens to keep cats away. It is the strong smell of mothballs that irritates cats. However, not all cats will walk away.

    Do lemons keep cats away? ›

    According to the ASPCA, cats typically dislike the smell of citrus, so using orange, lemon or lime peels sprinkled around plants can help keep cats away. Using the oils of these citrus fruits is also a smart solution, since they are nontoxic to humans and cats.

    What does cinnamon do to cats? ›

    Cinnamon can also act an irritant on the skin or in the oral cavity, causing rash and allergic-type reactions in cats and other animals. Because cats have sensitive skin and a keener senses of smell than humans, they are at an increased risk of reaction from exposure to cinnamon or the cinnamon aroma.

    Does black pepper keep cats away? ›

    Yes, pepper does deter cats. Any combination of pepper will work including black, white and/or cayenne pepper. Fortunately, there are many forms of pepper that you can use to deter cats. The different options make it easy for you to choose.

    What is toxic to cats? ›

    Some of the most toxic food for cats include onions & garlic, raw eggs & meat, chocolate, alcohol, grapes and raisins. Avoid feeding your cat table scraps, especially around the holidays, as these may contain potentially toxic ingredients.

    Do cats hate vinegar? ›

    While I love using vinegar for cleaning, cats do not like vinegar. While the scent of vinegar is not a problem for them physically, they just don't like it. Because of that, vinegar can serve as a natural deterrent if there's an area you'd like your cats to avoid.

    Do marigolds keep cats away? ›

    No, marigolds do not deter cats. Though they have a strong smell, cats still aren't bothered by them. In fact, cats sometimes eat marigolds! There are several flowers and plants that cats dislike, either because of the smell they produce or because they are toxic to cats.

    Does chilli powder deter cats? ›

    Put down extra strength hot chilli powder. It annoys cats' paws and whiskers without causing them serious harm. They'll stay well away. Over many years of battling to protect my garden from these little beasts, I've found the following deterrents to be most effective.


    1. Working cat repellent from vinegar and lemon juice
    (Mladen 365)
    2. DIY Homemade Cat Deterrent Spray : Made Using Easily Available Materials At Home
    (Kitty County)
    3. Your neighbor’s cats will be gone just like that with this trick!
    (Facts Box)
    5. Stray Cat Repellent
    6. Problem solved! How to stop cats using your garden soil as a toilet, without using chemicals!
    (Roger Crookes)
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