Natural Cat Repellent: A Natural Way to Keep Away Stray Cats

cat under cover 300x199 Natural Cat Repellent: A Natural Way to Keep Away Stray CatsThere is always a way to maximize the uses you get out of your garden, and the plants you grow there, and sometimes what you discover as a new use for an old plant may surprise you!

This is one great “green idea” that I stumbled on myself quite accidentally!  When moving fresh cut Rosemary from my yard into my kitchen to hang and dry, my cat dashed in to check out the leafy greens in my hand, no doubt to see how edible they were.  His fascination led him to continually dart his head close to the plant, only to jump back, and blink in confusion.  He swatted at the plant a few times, and then repeated the same pattern, but as the oils from the plant attached to the paws of his front feet he began to back away from me, and then back away from the smells of the Rosemary plant (now attached to his front paws) that he perceived to be following him.  Over the next few minutes he backed himself around my kitchen several times trying to sneak away from the offending smell, and I took pity on him after he made a few mad dashes to and from the living room, trying to outrun his front paws.  Once my perverse enjoyment of this entertainment passed, I realized I had struck gold in the all-natural cat control department.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Plant Rosemary in your garden to deter stray cats from leaving deposits in your yard, or hunting your songbirds.
  • Lay fresh trimmings of Rosemary on carpet areas you want a house-cat to avoid.  The oils in the plant are long lasting, and can work at deterring a cat from a designated area for up to two weeks, giving you time to re-train the cat’s behavior.
  • To keep cats away from computer wires, heirloom furniture, or china displays, lay trimmings of Rosemary in the areas around what you are protecting, or place the trimmings in the area the cat uses to access the object.
  • For problem areas, or for repeat offenders, a cotton ball lightly soaked (so as not to leave oil stains) in Rosemary Essential Oil, and placed near the object of your house-cat’s attention can deter the visiting behavior.  Also a dab of the oil of hard surfaces, such as a chair leg, or piece of furniture, will also deter your cat sufficiently.

Try this method out as an alternative to pet store remedies, and see if you can’t solve your cat problem with this great “green” alternative!

Your Thoughts: Have you tried Rosemary (or any other herb) to repell, or deter unwanted feline behavior?  How has it worked for you?  I’d love to hear from you!

(Photo credit: OiMax)

About Amy


  1. Andy H says:

    Rosemary works very well for repelling cats. I two learned this but stumbling on to it. My sister grew Rosemary one year in a small pot in our Kithen window (at the time we had 6 cats in out house) well our cats loved the kitchen window till that plant showed up. Not one of them would get near that window for the whole summer that the plant was there. a couple years later we found the same thing to be true in our outside garden, the cats seem to not be leaving us daily presents in that part of the garden, not that might of just been luck, but i am pretty sure it was cause of the Rosemary. My favorite part about this repellant is it works well in a lot of things i like to cook too!

  2. Amy says:

    I’m glad you’ve had luck with Rosemary too! It’s worked like a charm for me with my cat, and it’s cut back on the feral cat traffic in my front yard too. I haven’t found a lot of reading material on the relationship between cats and Rosemary, but it isn’t on any poison lists with the SPCA, or other animal welfare groups, so I must assume that it is safe to use.

    There hasn’t been a lot of discussion on the web about this particular use for Rosemary, it seems like the herb could be underused by people who haven’t discovered our secret yet. And I agree, it’s amazing to cook with!

  3. Deanna says:

    Two cats that I had in the past used to like to nap in the shade under a big rosemary bush we have in the back yard – which makes me wonder if I’ve got a different variety of rosemary that isn’t effective in repelling cats.

    Those of you who have had good results with rosemary: Do you know which variety of rosemary you’ve been using?

    Anyhow, it can’t hurt to give it a try! I’m going to test it out, laying rosemary trimmings over a large flowerpot that seems to have been mistaken for a litter box!

  4. Amy says:


    I did a little research into my particular plant by calling my supplier, and believe my Rosemary to be the Common Rosemary. Its growth habits are such that when left on it’s own it grows about 3 feet, is very hardy, and in the spring it is covered in light purple/blue flowers.

    If you have the “Common” variety too, here is another idea to try for better cat control: after spring flowering, I cut my plant back, to encourage more fresh growth, which is more flavorful in cooking, since the oils are stronger. This constant fresh growth is also more potent than the woodier branches as the plant gets older and larger. Try trimming back your plant this fall, and see if the fresh growth in your bush doesn’t have more of an impact on your cats.

  5. Deanna says:

    Thanks so much for the tip! I’ll definitely do a little rosemary trimming this fall.

    That makes a lot of sense – the woodier parts of the plant at the base probably didn’t disturb the napping cats.

    I did try putting some rosemary on the flowerpot-turned-litterbox. When I had just put it there, the cat just pushed it aside, but I kept trying and now that the branches have dried out a bit, he doesn’t seem to like the prickly sensation and appears to be keeping away.

  6. Tami says:

    WOW!! This is awsome information.. I recently moved into a new house with a neighboring cat. I made a new garden between our houses, along the tree line, I caught the cat doing it’s “business” right in front of us while we ate dinner at the patio table.. so I will be planting rosemary in there and keeping it trimmed up.. Thanks so much for this info.. Gardening in Ontario Canada

  7. Connie S says:

    We just moved into a house, and our neighbour’s cats keep coming up onto our deck and front porch, I imagine it’s too late to start growing rosemary this late in the season, would dried rosemary from the spice rack mixed with some water work????

  8. admin says:


    Depending on where you live (unless you have harsh winters), if you can find any Rosemary plants in your area for sale, I would try growing some this fall. If all that is available in your area are the sprigs of Rosemary, then pot them, and keep it indoors over the winter, to place in the ground next spring.

    I’m not sure how effective dried Rosemary leaves are, but it’s worth a try. For some stubborn cats, the fresh oils in the leaves are necessary for deterence value. I would also check out Rosemary essential oils in bottle form to sprinkle in areas that your neighbors cats are frequenting. For porous surfaces like concrete, or wood, the oils will remain longer.

    Some health and nutrition stores carry Rosemary oil, or you can order it online, but it works well too, and is often an ingredient in pet store cat repellents. Let me know how it goes!

  9. Sarah says:

    We have three large rosemary bushes in our front flower bed and they do nothing to keep the cats away. The neigborhood cats freely use the flower bed as their litter box, going right next to the rosemary bushes. I’m glad rosemary worked for some of you, but it’s definitely not the right solution for our yard!

  10. Joy says:

    Rosemary did nothing to curb my kitties desires to do maughty things! I purchased both fresh rosemary and essence of rosemary and she thought it was for her to eat. She sat down and was ready to munch on the fresh rosemary and batted about the plated with the essesce of rosemary on it.

    This sounds great in theory, but did not work for us.

  11. Josie says:

    Tried essential rosemary oil mixed in 8oz water bottle. Sprayed all around the area surrounding my works for several hours but by morning the darn cats have been on top of my car again! Short of going thru the hassle of placing and removing a car cover…any suggestions??

  12. Amy says:


    I’ve heard that cats hate citrus fruits (peels, juices, citronella), and types of hot peppers, whether mixed in a spray formula, or sprinkled in a ground/dried form. I’m not sure how either of those ideas would work with the paint and protective coating on your car though, so if I was you I would either proceed with caution, or just opt for a car cover. The only other thing I have heard suggested for stubborn cats are sticky things like adhesives and velcro, which don’t seem to have practical application value when it comes to cars.

    I hope you can find a solution that works with your neighborhood cats! Good luck!

  13. Diane says:

    To keep kitty off furniture, while retraining, place aluminum foil on the area. Most cats do not like the feel or sound of it & will stay away. We’re keeping it on our recliners (newly recovered); if company comes, we’ll just whisk away the foil. Into the nearest wastebasket it goes, and no one is the wiser.

  14. Jean says:

    Our neutered female cat was looking for something to chew on so I gave her a sprig of rosemary and she spent a very long time smelling and licking it. After a while she started acting sorta spacey and them attacked our younger neutered male whom she generally ignores, then acted out “the crazies” for awhile… sorta like catnip behavior. the male on the other hand wasn’t too interested in the rosemary.

  15. Taborah says:

    My cat (altered adult male) continually likes to urinate in flower pots and more specifically my dogs bed. The litter box is cleaned every 2-3 days, its a large booda dome. yet he still finds some way to urinate on the dogs bed, it is very irritating and makes a residual smell and its not an easy task washing a large dog bed continuously, I read some of the posts and as I type I am washing the bed with some dried rosemary and plan on sprinkling some in the cover of the bed. I also plan on getting some rosemary oil and putting it on the borders of the bed. should I maybe consider having multiple litter boxes around the house to help with the issue or just train him on staying away from the dogs beds?

  16. Taborah,

    I would also try swapping the dog bed and the litter box, or hiding the bed all together for a few days and placing the box where the bed usually goes, to see if that encourages the cat to use it. It wouldn’t hurt to try another type of litter box as well, with possibly another type of litter in it, to see if the cat has decided he doesn’t like enclosed litter boxes, or the litter material. Also you can try containing the cat in a room with a window while you are at work to keep him away from the bed for several hours per day to assist with the retraining, while you provide him with a litter box option.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I wanted to suggest to anyone who has a problem with their cat using their potted plants as a litterbox that they use rock on top of the soil of the planter. I am not talking about tiny rock, but larger white rocks like you would use in more decorative things. It looks like rock used on gravel driveways, but is white and you can buy it at any home improvement store such as Lowes or Home Depot. It lets water and fertilizer through, but most cats won’t try to use the plants as a litterbox because they can’t get to the dirt. I have had very few problems with this after I put this in the plants.

  18. Laura says:

    My cat has a habit of peeing on my couch. I saw this site and tried putting rosemary sprigs on the couch, but kitty just ate it! Citrus didn’t work either.

  19. Amy says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of any product that will fully clean cat urine from upholstery, and repel the cat in the future. Many products claim to work on damaged upholstered furniture, but cats inevitably return to the same piece of furniture to refresh the smell. The only lasting solution is to remove the piece of furniture and to train the cat not to use the replacement piece. In the cases of couches, chairs, mattreses, and other foam stuffed furnishing, total replacement of the piece of furniture is the only permanent solution I have ever heard of working once the urine smell is detectable.

    On the positive side, once the original piece of furniture is removed, most cats will cease their marking habit and continue to use the litter box.

  20. Gary says:

    I agree with others here who have commented about Rosemary not being very effective; Rosemary DOES NOT WORK. I have a huge plant (2′ tall & 3.5′- 4′ wide) in the back yard where I recently found a stray cat making his/her bed there. Also, I have a Blue Bird house attached to the fence very near to the Rosemary and two seasons I have seen bird remains under the plant from a “cat attack”.

    Our schnauzer seems to be the best Cat Repellent! :o Þ

  21. James Fahy says:

    Hi guys!

    For what it’s worth, our two cats (oriental and tabby) absolutely love rosemary, and lick it to death whenever we drop some. Luckily, it’s non-toxic, as far as I can tell. We pluck it fresh from our yard here in Canberra.

    Hope this helps someone!


  22. A says:

    There’s a spray called Feliway, which is made from the facial hormones in cats. It calms them down, and may be good for those of you experiencing problems with your felines peeing on the furniture. It comes in an diffuser (kind of like an air freshener) too, but the box and guide suggest that they’ve got pros and cons for the different types.

  23. Cynthia says:

    The rosemary plants are only effective as long as they’re being disturbed I would think, or until they dry out. I use cut rosemary in the house and my 6 don’t eat it. Be careful with the essential oil as it is very concentrated. Some essential oils of harmless plants can cause dermatitis in people.
    My cats love rocks (fairly large) in potted plants…they play soccer with them. For my outdoor plants I put cut dried branches around the potted plants (in the pot) to make them uncomfortable for cats to lie in/on.
    My grandmother used powdered cayenne pepper sprinkled in the flower bed to keep her cat from catching hummingbirds. This lasts a little while – I’ve used black pepper as a temporary deterrent because I can’t stand to use red pepper on my cats. Good luck with felines – I love mine, but they are stubborn as mules.

  24. Steve Jacob says:

    According to me apart from rosemary, lavenders works great to stop cats from entering the garden.

  25. Mara says:

    Surprisingly my cat loves the rosemary smell. Other day my husband cut some leaves and let it in the yard, and then we found our cat laying and rolling over the leaves. Then we figgured out why he is always with a rosemary scent.

  26. Darcie says:

    We have a 2year old dog, and are having problems with people around us feeding stray cat’s. So now the cat’s think they can go to any house to be fed. The cat’s tease the dog and now especially since its winter they poop right around her area and of course all she wants to do is eat it. At the same time we have woods near by and don’t want to deter the deer we’ve seen. My kids love that they have been able to see the deer but the cat’s and their mess are a different story. Please help?

  27. Bonnie Smith says:

    We tried strong Rosemary scent to keep the cats off the furniture
    and it didn’t phase them at all. 3 different cats. 3 different
    Must be a special kind of Rosemary, and this was
    specifically supposed to be cat repellant.

  28. Lu says:

    I think that there may be a lot of variation with species, in terms of how cats are effected by herbs. Some cats go crazy for catnip, while others are unaffected. My cat loves my turkey burgers that are seasoned only with Rosemary. She is not so interested in plain turkey. And it is in her treats that contain her medicine. She hates that medicine and spits it out if I give it to her orally. But she eats those treats right down.

  29. Cappy Cross says:

    Just received an order of “Claw Withdraw” rosemary oil spray from Amazon. Sprayed it around the edges of the couch where my cats were clawing frequently. They won’t go anywhere near it now! Nice to find a safe non-toxic means of keeping the furniture from getting shredded!

  30. kevin Wallis says:

    hate to break it to you but i have a cat that loves Rosemary. i have a small plant and the first thing my cat does is go rub all over it rubbing his neck.

  31. Joann says:

    Thanks for the tips. I didn’t know that Rosemary is a great cat repellent.

  32. Lisa says:

    Just picked up a small rosemary plant for the kitchen. After having it 1 week, 1 of my cats jumped onto the counter (where neither ever jumps), and started chewing on the leaves. She did it several times before getting the idea that “No was No.” (at least while I’m watching) I always get the “odd” ones!

  33. Dan says:

    Nope. My cat literally eats the stuff. Dried and fresh.


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