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Will Cayenne Pepper Keep Cats Away? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


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

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Because cats are naturally curious, they often make a nuisance of themselves in spaces where they don’t belong. Indoors, that might mean prowling the kitchen counters or chewing phone chargers. Outdoors, roaming felines commonly turn gardens and flower beds into their personal toilet spot.

If you’re fed up with cats digging up your garden and chewing your flowers, you may have heard cayenne pepper suggested as a way to keep cats away. So does cayenne pepper keep cats out of the garden?

While cayenne pepper may keep cats out of your garden, it’s not always effective and can be unnecessarily painful to kitties that come into contact with it. In this article, we’ll tell you why that is and suggest some alternative ways to keep cats away that are more humane.

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Cayenne Pepper & Cats: A Painful Combination

cayenne peppers close up
Image Credit: JillWellington, Pixabay

Capsaicin, the chemical that gives cayenne peppers their spicy flavor, is unpleasant to cats in smell and taste. Because of this, it’s often used as an ingredient in commercial cat repellents or suggested as a homemade kitty deterrent. However, there are some concerns with using cayenne pepper to keep cats away.

First, cayenne pepper doesn’t always work to repel cats. Rain showers can wash any cayenne spray or powder away very easily. Sometimes, cats will still dig into the dirt around your plants before they realize the cayenne is present, defeating the purpose of using it.

More importantly, cayenne pepper can have some unintended, painful consequences for cats. As anyone who’s ever cut peppers without gloves can attest, capsaicin can cause a burning sensation, especially if you unintentionally get it into your eyes. Cats may get cayenne pepper on their paws or coat, then transfer it to their eyes or mouth by grooming themselves.

Cayenne pepper is not a toxic food for cats, but it can still cause uncomfortable eye and mouth burning. If ingested, it may cause an upset stomach or vomiting. Saving your garden isn’t worth causing unnecessary pain to cats, especially with other, more humane methods available.

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Other Options To Keep Cats Away

Rather than using painful cayenne pepper, consider these other options to keep cats out of your yard and garden.

1. Chicken Wire

You can use chicken wire to keep cats out of your garden in several ways. One is to create a fence around the area you want to protect. Another option is to lay the chicken wire on the ground around your plants or just beneath the surface of the soil. This prevents cats from digging down into the dirt to do their business.

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2. Use Scent Repellent

Cayenne pepper isn’t the only scent that cats dislike. You could also discourage kitty visitors by scattering citrus peels or old fruits around your garden. Cats tend to dislike the strong smell of oranges, lemons, and other similar fruits.

Another option is to scatter leftover coffee grounds around your flower beds. Coffee may be a pleasant scent to humans, but cats disagree. You could also buy a commercial cat repellent. Just make sure it doesn’t contain cayenne pepper!

Many of these food-based deterrents are toxic to cats if eaten so make sure your kitty isn’t among the few who ignore the smell and give them a nibble.

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3. Create An Unfriendly Plant Border

cat leaping over fence
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Guard your garden perimeter by growing a defensive border of plants with textures or odors that cats dislike.

Some possible options include:
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon thyme
  • Hawthorn

These plants are all non-toxic to cats if ingested but unpleasant for them to smell or touch.

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4. Try Aluminum Foil

Try placing aluminum foil on the ground or countertop to keep cats away from plants outdoors and off counters indoors. Cats dislike the feel of the foil on their paws and will hopefully avoid the area.

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5. Give Cats Their Own Garden

If you’re stuck with persistent cats that seem undaunted by any of your attempts to keep them away, try a distraction technique. Plant a section of your yard or garden with cat-friendly plants like catnip and cat grass. Hopefully, the cats will gravitate towards that spot to chew plants or do their business and leave the rest of the garden in peace.

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6. Use Sprinklers

Sprinkler systems
Image Credit: AxxLC, Pixabay

A more complicated and expensive option is to install motion-activated water sprinklers in your yard. Most cats hate water and are likely to find a less soggy toilet spot when faced with the prospect of getting soaked to poop.

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7. Talk To Your Neighbors

If you know who owns the cat(s) disrupting your garden space, try letting them know what’s going on. Hopefully, they’ll try to keep their cat inside or at least more contained. If not, you may need to try one of the other methods on our list.

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Cayenne pepper might seem like an easy way to keep cats away, but it’s not the nicest method either. To avoid causing pain to your feline intruders, consider using a more humane technique. As you plan your landscaping, make sure you are aware of what plants are toxic to cats and try to make safer selections.

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Featured Image Credit: JillWellington, Pixabay