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Do Coffee Grounds Keep Cats Away? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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	Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A beautiful garden and neighborhood cats often don’t go hand-in-hand. Cats are notorious for not only digging into garden beds to defecate, but some can’t resist gnawing at plants, too. To keep your garden looking its best, you’ll need to take some preventative steps to keep your cats far away.

Some people sing the praises of coffee grounds as an effective cat deterrent, but is it? It can be as cats despise the smell of coffee grounds and will stay as far away as they can. But, will it be okay if your cat were to ingest the grounds? Caffeine ingestion can become an issue, so you should tread lightly if you choose to use it in your garden.

Keep reading to learn more about recycling your old coffee grounds to keep your garden cat-free.

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Why Do Cats Like Gardens?

Cat in garden
Image Credit: Katarzyna Kosianok, Pixabay

Outdoor cats will seek bare soil to use as their toilet when they’re outside. This makes flower and vegetable gardens an easy-to-find and convenient target.

While it would be easy for us just to let them use the soil in our gardens as a toilet, it’s not recommended. Not only will cat feces smell up your garden and outdoor space, but it’s also not something you want to find when digging in your soil. The last thing you want near your Caesar salad-destined romaine lettuce is a pile of parasite-ridden cat feces.

What Are the Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden?

The most obvious benefit of using coffee grounds in your garden is that it should deter cats from entering and soiling amongst your flowers and veggies. The smell and bitter taste of coffee grounds might also keep other pests like ants or snails out.

Aside from keeping critters, cats, and pests out, many gardeners use coffee grounds as fertilizer in their soil as they contain several nutrients essential to plant growth, such as potassium and phosphorus. In addition, it can add organic material to your soil, improving drainage and water retention. Some gardeners even suggest that coffee grounds can aerate the soil, too.

The grounds can help the microorganisms your plants need to grow thrive and may also attract earthworms.

Will Coffee Grounds Hurt My Cat?

coffee ground
Credit: Jasmin_Sessler, Pixabay

Cats may accidentally ingest coffee grounds if they step on them in your garden and then lick their paws while they clean themselves. Cats can have a very extreme reaction to caffeine which can make using coffee grounds dangerous.

If you do choose to use the grounds in your garden, you should take steps to ensure your kitty doesn’t accidentally ingest them. When you first start using them, sprinkle just a little at first to test the waters and see if it will deter your cat at all. Keep an eye on your pet around your garden, and if they continue to dig or walk throughout the soil, you should consider using a different kind of deterrent.

How Can I Use Coffee Grounds in My Garden?

Use just a thin layer and spread it throughout the garden beds in areas you want to deter cats. Reapply the thin layer every week to keep the scent fresh so it can continue to keep cats away. Don’t use too much as the particles can clump together and create a water-resistant barrier.

Don’t expect immediate results, either. It may take a month for you to determine if the grounds have worked their magic.

What Other Deterrents Can I Use in My Garden?

If you don’t drink coffee or want to avoid the risk of caffeine consumption, there are several other safe deterrents you can use to keep cats out of your garden.


a domestic cat staring at a lavender bush
Image Credit: Kolganova Daria, Shutterstock

Cats do not like citrusy scents, so keep your old orange peels or lemon and lime rinds in your soil.

Certain plants can act as a natural repellent as cats don’t like their smell. This includes plants such as lavender, rue, or coleus canina. Try planting them around the border of your garden or mix them throughout.


Some gardeners have luck using vinegar as a repellent for indoor and indoor plants. Try mixing white vinegar with water and dish soap in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle together gently to combine the ingredients and spray it directly on your plants.


Image Credit: Diana Golysheva, Shutterstock

Cats don’t like the feeling of anything prickly on their feet, so pushing pine cones into the soil can work great to keep them away. You can get the same results from putting stone mulch or eggshells in the soil.

Outdoor-rated scat mats, like this one from Homarden, have small spikes that will not harm cats, but will deter them from entering your garden.

Ultrasonic Cat Repeller

Ultrasonic repellers are devices that are triggered by motion. They emit an ultrasonic alarm that doesn’t hurt cats, but startles and spooks them away. Humans cannot hear the sound so it won’t be an annoyance for you.

We like this affordable option from AMIATCH. It’s waterproof, solar powered, and USB chargeable. The polycrystalline solar panels enhance its charging function, allowing it to work for longer on a single charge.

Motion-Activated Sprinkler

garden sprinkler
Image Credit: Piqsels

Motion-activated sprinkles are a great option if pests regularly visit your garden. The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer is a great option as it allows you to choose between several modes, including day only, night only, or 24-hour protection. In addition, its highly intelligent sprinkling technology knows the difference between animals and trees so that you won’t be wasting water anytime the wind blows.

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Final Thoughts

Coffee grounds are great as they’re something you’re likely already producing if you drink coffee and because they can be beneficial to the soil in your garden. While they can be used in your garden to repel cats, there are safer options if you’re worried about your beloved kitty accidentally ingesting them.

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Featured Image Credit: DGLimages, Shutterstock