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Cat Deterrent Plants – 10 Plants that Repel Cats

As much as we love cats, it doesn’t mean we always want them rooting around. After all, a cat can very easily destroy a well-maintained garden by using it as a litter box. But that doesn’t mean you need to resort to harmful or forceful methods to rid your garden of cats.

There are certain plant species you can grow that cats will actively avoid. Here are 10 beautiful-looking recommendations that are sure to find a great home in any garden and keep your cats at bay.

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The 10 Plants That Are Good for Deterring Cats

1. Scaredy Cat Plant – Coleus canina

Scaredy Cat Plant—Coleus canina
Image Credit: Amazonia Exotics U.K, Wikimedia Commons

When the plant’s name is Scaredy Cat Plant, you know there’s got to be a good reason. These plants—while extremely beautiful—emit a very strong ammonia-like smell that’s similar to urine.

The smell may turn you off of them, but they’ll ensure that cats and dogs alike will avoid your garden and find somewhere else to do their business. But if you do opt to plant these, you won’t have to maintain them too much. These are low maintenance plants that do very well in dry areas.

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2. Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium

Pennyroyal—Mentha pulegium
Image Credit: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re fond of using or eating the plants you grow, the Pennyroyal might be just right for you. Although it’s the smallest variety of mint, it packs the biggest scent and flavor punch out of all of them.

And what makes for a pleasant tea and fresh smelling herb for you is a natural deterrent for wandering cats. They just can’t stand the scent of mint and will actively avoid the area it’s grown in. Use Pennyroyal as a boundary around the rest of your garden, and it should remain feline-free.

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3. Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis

Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

Another wonderful herb that helps deter cats is rosemary. Used in a wide variety of dishes in the kitchen, a few sprigs of this woody perennial can liven up any meal. However, not everyone can simply grow rosemary in their outdoor gardens.

They prefer a neutral pH soil and require a dry, warm climate. That’s why most rosemary is grown best indoors. But if you have the opportunity to maintain fresh rosemary in your garden, the smell alone will help repel cats.

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4. Lemongrass – Cymbopogon citratus

Image Credit: Pxhere

Lemongrass is another useful kitchen herb if you’re into Southeast Asian cuisine or teas. And it also helps to keep wandering cats from digging up your garden. Its fresh, citrusy smell drives cats away while providing a very pleasant perfume around your garden.

However, with this being a tropical plant, you’ll need to ensure that your lemongrass receives lots of water accompanied with well-draining soil. Pot planting may be the best way to go for those living in areas with high clay concentrated soils as the clay will not allow for adequate drainage.

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5. Citronella – Pelargonium graveolens citrosa

Image Credit: Mokkie, Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t have citronella in your garden, you may want to consider it. Aside from keeping cats away, this plant is also a natural deterrent for other pests such as mosquitoes. To get the plant’s full effect though, they need to be physically agitated. This can be done by putting them in garden walkways or other high traffic areas where they’ll be brushed up against.

However, citronella isn’t the easiest plant to grow. They hate colder weather and will expire if hit with a frost. Also, you need to be sure not to over-fertilize them. Excess nitrogen will cause their scent to weaken, thus limiting their deterrent capabilities.

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6. Curry Plant – Helichrysum angustifolium

Curry Plant—Helichrysum angustifolium
Image Credit: Denis Bourez, Flickr

Although the name of this plant is the Curry Plant, you won’t find these in any kitchen. They’re aptly named because they have a curry-like smell. While you may appreciate the spicy aroma, cats do not and avoid them at all costs.

This plant is pretty robust and does well in dry, arid conditions. Aside from deterring cats, the plant also acts as a deer repellant.

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7. Lavender – Lavandula varieties

Lavender—Lavandula varieties
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

There are few things more pleasing than the lingering scent of lavender in the air—unless you’re a cat that is. For some bizarre reason, cats just can’t stand the smell. Another unique attribute lavender has to detract cats from entering your garden is the varying heights in which it grows.

Smaller variations are great for placing within the center of your garden and along walkways. The taller plants are best used as a border along the perimeter of your garden itself. The added height will prevent cats from simply bounding over your walls or border plants and entering anyway.

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8. Common Rue – Ruta graveolens

Common Rue—Ruta graveolens
Image Credit: Salicyna, Wikimedia Commons

This evergreen shrub is quite pretty to look at, but it’s not the most appealing in terms of smell. It has a musky, urine-like smell that’ll repel cats and other pests. It also has a very bitter flavor that will stop a cat in its tracks if they give it a nibble.

This plant is also poisonous to humans if eaten as well, so be careful when planting this in gardens where small children may be present.

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9. Geraniums – Pelargonium varieties

Image Credit: durnah, Pixabay

If there’s one thing you’ll want to plant in your garden, it’s geraniums. They’re bright, colorful, can bloom year-round, and have a light, pleasing odor. However, cats just don’t find them as attractive as we do. They can’t stand the smell and prefer to avoid the flowers altogether.

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10. Catnip – Nepeta cataria

Catnip—Nepeta cataria
Image Credit: rebeck96, Pixabay

You might be curious as to why catnip made this list. It’s obvious that cats love catnip and go bonkers over the stuff. However, it can work as an extremely powerful deterrent if planted correctly.

Instead of driving cats away, you could simply redirect them to a cat-friendly zone by planting catnip there. This will keep cats out of your garden while giving them a place all of their own.

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Conclusion: Cat Repellent Plants

Cat deterrent plants are a great way to safely prevent cats from causing damage to your home or garden. And many of these plants have extra uses as well whether it’s in the kitchen or deterring other animals. If you are experiencing an unwanted cat issue, be sure to give these natural remedies a try!

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Featured Image: Osaze Cuomo, Shutterstock