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10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

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Our furry little friends are cute, cuddly, and—destructive?

Cats are curious little fellows. They are guaranteed to poke their tiny pink noses everywhere, especially, where they should not. If you have a garden, you know how little kitty would munch, punch, and tear apart your plants.

You don’t need to despair just yet, and keeping your garden intact doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to lock up your cat. Let me tell you about my big secret for keeping my pets far from the flowers; I have plants that repel cats!

So if you’re looking for a natural way to keep cats away from certain areas, fragrant plants are a great option. 

How Do Plants Repel Cats?

Cats have a very strong sense of smell, and they are repelled by certain scents. Many fragrant plants contain compounds that cats find unpleasant, such as linalool, menthol, and citronellal. When cats smell these compounds, they are likely to avoid the plant.

This can be a great way to keep cats away from your flower beds, vegetable garden, or even your furniture.

Some plants may also deter cats because of their texture or appearance. For example, cats may not like to walk on thorny plants, such as roses or pyracantha. They may also be deterred by plants with sharp leaves, such as holly or agave.

In addition to repelling cats, fragrant plants also offer a number of other benefits. They can help to improve the air quality in your home, attract beneficial insects, and add beauty to your landscape.

10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

In alphabetical order, here are 10 plants to start with when trying to cut down on damage to your yard from your local felines.

1 – Citronella


Citronella is part of the geranium family. While most of us enjoy its citrusy aroma, mosquitos, insects, and more importantly, cats, don’t.

If you are going to try to use citronella in your yard to repel cats, place them in areas where animals are able to brush up against them, which will cause the scent to be released.

Check the price of citronella at Planting Tree.

Make sure you don’t give the citronella plants too much fertilizer, because, it will dilute the scent that you are trying to attract them with.

2 – Coleus Canina

This plant is not only an effective one for repelling cats, but, it is also known as the Scaredy Cat Plant. Besides its name, it comes with an additional bonus—it scares away dogs as well because of its offensive odor.

The Coleus Canina actually smells like strong urine. When the cats smell the pee smell, they steer clear of it and will go out of their way to avoid it.

These plants are very easy to take care of so if you have an area where a cat is trying to use it as a litter area. Just plant some of the Scaredy Cat Plants and it will be all taken care of.

3 – Common Rue

Also known as Ruta Graveolens, the common rue has an offensive odor and a bitter taste, so it is a double threat when it comes to cats. Please note that it can be poisonous for children, so be careful where you plant it. 

This plant is part of the family of evergreen shrubs. Thus, it can thrive in sunny areas or in partial shade. Wherever you plant it, you need to make sure you give it plenty of room for drainage. 

The common rue plants do not reach heights past about three feet or so, and they do not get very wide either.

4 – Catnip


Okay, you are probably wondering how this plant made the list of cat repellants when cats love it.

The thing is, they do go crazy over wild catnip so the key to control is to plant it in an area where they will not be able to ruin anything. Give them enough space where they can roll around in it in a playful way.

You can easily buy catnip seeds on amazon, and plant them where you want the plant to grow.

Because catnip is part of the mint family, its scent alternately attracts cats and drives them crazy. If you want to keep them away from using your planters as their own personal litter box, just sprinkle some crushed-up catnip leaves wherever you want to keep them away.

5 – Curry Plant

First of all, this plant is not a true curry plant, so don’t plan on adding it to any of your recipes.

Secondly, make sure this is definitely a plant you want to use to deter the cats in your area because they are difficult to remove once they are planted. The good news is they not only repel cats, but, they can help keep deer under control.

You will find the curry plant in your local nursery in the form of a shrub. It will have pretty yellow flowers that actually do smell like curry. While it is basically easy to maintain, it needs full sun and needs to be kept out of the way of windy and rainy conditions.

Even though it may smell like curry, always remember that it is a bush, not an herb.

6 – Geraniums

Geraniums are a win/win plant. They will keep pesky cats away from your landscaped yard and garden. Plus, they are one of the top 10 plants realtors suggest that owners plant in order to sell their homes faster.

The bright and cheery red flowers and the pure white pristine blooms always add a comforting look to a home.

In addition to their attractive appearance, they have a scent that is pleasant to adults but not so fragrant to felines. If you take care of them, geraniums could bloom all winter long.

Give them just enough water, but not too much. Let them dry out in between watering. And make sure to keep pinching off dead leaves.

Find magenta-colored Tiny Monster Geraniums at Nature Hills Nursery.

7 – Lemongrass

Lemongrass offers a full dramatic display of ornamental grass that will make your home look like it has been professionally landscaped. Lemongrass can grow up to heights of more than five feet.

Despite its impressive addition to your landscape, it does have other benefits. Its scent repels cats, insects, and pests, that are put off by the citrus scent of this plant.

Lemongrass is best planted directly into the ground with enough drainage so that it is never sitting in standing water. Keep it potted in a good quality type of soil and don’t let the roots dry out.

8 – Lavender


Ahh, lavender. It has such a relaxing scent—for humans—but for cats, not so much. The good thing is you will get to enjoy that fragrant lavender aroma, knowing it will keep any problem cats in your neighborhood away. It is also a deterrent for deer and many kinds of insects.

It is best to get the taller types of lavender, and, keep them planted around the borders. This way, it will keep cats from getting into too much trouble.

Creating a border with Phenomenal Lavender, for instance, will make a beautiful landscape and keep the neighborhood cats out of your garden at the same time. 

9 – Pennyroyal

This plant is the smallest member of the mint family. It can successfully repel cats and many different types of insects.

The Pennyroyal plant is a good ground cover for your yard, as it lays down roots wherever it lands. It can flourish in full sun or partial shade.

10 – Rosemary

Having rosemary growing in your yard is a benefit to you if you enjoy cooking. This herb is delicious when sprinkled on roasted potatoes. It’s also an irresistible herbal topping for a nice cut of beef.

You will want to keep your rosemary plant in a container, so you can move it around when the weather shifts. It’s best to bring it indoors if it gets too cold outside.

It is the scent of the rosemary plant that repels cats. If you are trying to repel cats in your yard naturally, it is best to try any of these plants first. 

In general, it is much easier to deal with a plant that grows freely than trying to deal with pesticides that could hurt cats and other animals that they might come in contact with.

Tips for Using Plants to Repel Cats Safely

Here are some tips for using plants to repel cats safely:

  • Choose the right plants. Not all fragrant plants are safe for cats. Some plants, such as lilies and oleander, are poisonous to cats. Be sure to do your research before planting any new plants in your yard.
  • Use plants sparingly. Even if a plant is safe for cats, you should still use it sparingly. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and even safe plants can cause stomach upset in cats if they eat too much.
  • Keep plants out of reach. Place plants in high places or in hanging baskets where cats can’t reach them. If you have cats that are known to climb, you may need to place plants in a separate room that cats don’t have access to.
  • Monitor your cats. If you’re introducing new plants to your home, be sure to monitor your cats closely to make sure they’re not eating them. If you notice your cat eating a plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Other Ways to Deter Cats From Your Yard

Here are some other ways to deter cats from your yard:

  • Remove food sources. If you have outdoor pets, make sure to clean up their food and water bowls after they eat and drink. You should also avoid feeding birds in your yard, as this will attract cats.
  • Block access to hidey-holes. Cats like to have places to hide, so try to block off any areas under bushes, decks, or porches. You can also remove any piles of leaves or other debris that cats might use as shelter.
  • Use motion-activated devices. There are a number of motion-activated devices on the market that can be used to deter cats. These devices can emit a spray of water, sound, or even ultrasound when they detect a cat.
  • Install cat-proof fencing. If you’re serious about keeping cats out of your yard, you can consider installing cat-proof fencing. This type of fencing is typically made of metal or PVC and has small openings that are too small for cats to fit through.
  • Talk to your neighbors. If you have neighbors who have cats, talk to them about your concerns. They may be willing to take steps to keep their cats out of your yard, such as keeping them indoors or using a leash when they take them outside.

It’s important to note that no single method of deterring cats is 100% effective. I believe that the best approach is to use a combination of methods to make your yard as unattractive to cats as possible.

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Wednesday 12th of April 2023

Regarding scaredy-cat:

While scaredy-cat coleus does have a distinctive skunk smell, which is worse when someone brushes up against the plant or bruises it, there’s no proof that this alone will keep any animals away from the garden. Coleus canina plant repellent is probably another old gardener’s tale that grew up from some anecdotal evidence, and now is a great advertising tool for nurseries that want to sell more of these plants.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Growing Scaredy Cat Plants: Coleus Canina Plant Repellent


Thursday 18th of March 2021

Eucalyptus works too.


Thursday 10th of November 2022

@Scott, Great I'll use it.



Tuesday 1st of November 2022

@Scott, It safe to assume Vicky means planting eucalyptus Scott! I have around 14 gum trees around my quarter acre block and they always dropping leaves. When it rains you can really smell the oil being released from leaves. Beautiful


Sunday 16th of October 2022

@Vicky, Eucalyptus oil is also fatally toxic to both cats and human children if enough is ingested. Which is why I'm assuming the writer was smart enough to not include it.