Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

What Smells Will Keep Cats Away?

It’s not that you don’t like cats. You like cats and maybe even love them. It’s just that you don’t want stray, feral, or wandering neighbors’ cats in your yard. Cats, as great as they are, can be destructive when they are unattended. They can get up into cars, chew wires, destroy plants, get into open garages, and leave feces and dead things. 

An easy way to deter cats from coming into your yard is by using scents they detest. What smells will keep cats away? Some of the more common ones are citrus smells like lemon and oranges. Lavender, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, peppermint, cayenne, and citronella are just some of the scents that cats hate. 

Read on to find out more about how to use these scents to keep cats off of your property. 

Keeping Cats Away

There are three ways you can discourage cats from coming onto your property. The first is the use of raw scents like organic materials and commercial products. The second is to use plants that produce scents they don’t like. The third is barriers like fencing. 

Animal experts recommend using things that are non-toxic, natural products so you don’t harm the cat or other wildlife in the area. Scents should be placed generously around the edges of the yard and in favorite garden spots or other areas where the cat likes to dig. Be sure to also spray on top of fences where cats may jump.

Placing cat-deterring scents around plants cats like to chew on, or intermixing plants cats don’t like in the garden, will keep felines away. 

Read: Why Does My Cat Crouching When Walking Outside?

Why Scents Work to Deter Cats?

Dogs are well known for their sniffers but cats have great noses too. A feline can smell 14 times more effectively than humans. Feline noses have more than 200 million sensors for odor while humans have 5 million.

Scents are of ultimate importance to felines. Cats identify people, territories, and objects by smell. They use their scent to claim their family, objects, and territory. 

Cats rub up against their humans and other pets and leave saliva on them to leave their claiming scent and mix their scent into the “family scent.”

They urinate and leave feces to claim territory and rub up against trees and shrubs to identify a property as their own. Felines rub saliva and body scents against their toys and other objects to claim them as well. 

Read: Are Bengal Cats Stronger Than Maine Coons?

Organic Scents

Many things common to a household can be used as cat deterrents rather than buying a commercial spray. These are cheap, easy fixes for your feline problem. However, some have mild to moderate toxicity to cats so you must be careful when you use them to ensure cats don’t come in direct contact with them.

Lemon Spray

Strong lemon is highly offensive to cats and you can create a spray using equal parts of lemon juice and water. Spray on areas to keep cats away. A lemon essential oil can be used too by adding 10 drops to a standard spray bottle filled with water. 

Don’t let cats ingest it or spray on or hear the animal because it is mildly toxic. 

Any type of citrus will also act as a deterrent. That includes oranges, grapefruit, and lime. You can put the peels in a satchel pouch and place them in cat-prone areas. You can scatter the peels around gardens and the yard’s edges but it’s best to keep cats from ingesting them because they are toxic to cats.

White Vinegar

White distilled vinegar is good for repelling felines and insects. It has a pungent smell that covers potential food sources and overwhelms a cat’s sense of smell. Use it in equal parts to water in a spray bottle. 

Don’t use apple cider vinegar. The sweetness of it may attract cats instead of repelling them. 

Read: Are Bengals Good Travel Cats? 


Several types of oils work well as cat repellents. This includes lavender, lemongrass, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, and mustard. Many of these oils also work in repelling bugs like mosquitos and flies too so spraying them around your porch areas could help you enjoy the outdoors more. 

The typical use for oils is to dilute up to 10 drops in water in a spray bottle and spray in heavy cat treading areas. 

Plants That Repel Cats

Many of the oils that deter cats come as plants so they work well by planting them in gardens and around your home. The problem with many of these plants is they are toxic to cats if the animal eats them. Generally, that won’t happen once the plant starts producing scent but you may need to watch them after they are just planted until they get settled and growing.

Lavender planting in pots around along the property edge is highly effective but it is toxic so don’t let cats eat the plant or oil while you are planting them. They likely won’t try to eat it after it’s planted and blooming. 

A non-toxic plant that can be planted and used in the kitchen is rosemary. Thyme also has a scent that cats hate so planting it with rosemary is a great combination for both repelling cats and using it for cooking. 

Peppermint is a good option but can overgrow in a yard. Try planting it in pots to keep it under control. Lemon grass also makes a great cat repellent and you can plant it among your flowers.

Coleus Canina, also called the scaredy-cat plant, has a long oral history of repelling all kinds of animals from dogs to rabbits from gardens. It has a strong skunk smell which emits more when the plant is bruised or someone brushes up against it. 

Those looking for some trees in their yard may want to plant pine if you want to keep cats out. They hate the smell. 

Read: Why Does My Cat Wobble When Wearing a Harness? 

Commercial Cat Sprays

Many commercial sprays can be used to keep cats out of your yard. One is the Havahart Get Away Dog and Cat Repellent. It contains mustard oil and capsaicin pepper as active ingredients. It has a lemon scent, along with a taste and odor that deters cats. It can last up to 10 days before it must be reapplied. 

Other products include Feliway Classic Spray, Inscape Data Pets Deterrent Spray, and Nature’s Miracle Pet Block Cat Repellent among others. All are available online. 

Most of the commercial cat sprays are under $20 and will work for up to a week or 10 days. You will need to reapply it to maintain effectiveness. 

Other Smells Cats Don’t Like

Many other types of smells make for good cat deterrents. These include:

  • Herb Rue
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Pipe Tobacco

Read: Is It Common for Bengal Cats to Be Overweight?

Other Uses for Cat Deterring Scents

Many of these scents can be used to keep your cat from destroying your furniture, keeping it off counters and out of areas in your home where you don’t want your furry friend to be. 

The best way to use scents for indoor use is with natural or commercial sprays rather than plants. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping cats away from your garden, flower beds and other areas of your property isn’t a hard task if you have the right scent. You may want to use a combination of new plants and sprays for optimal effectiveness. Cats will take the hint once they get a whiff.

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