Skip to Content

10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

10 Fragrant Plants That Repel Cats

Share this post:

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page might be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When you have a garden or worked hard to create your own landscape around your home, you already know you are at the mercy of insects and bugs of all kinds as well as animals, big and small.

Some are hard to deal with, but luckily, cats are not in that class. There are plants you can incorporate wherever you are having problems that will keep cats away and solve your problems very easily.

While some of these plants may work on some cats and not as well on others, it is suggested that you try these methods before you have to consider stronger methods.

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 and while most of us enjoy its citrusy aroma, mosquitos, insects, and more importantly, cats, do not enjoy it.

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, jut 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 ad a bitter taste, so it is a double threat when coming to cats. 

This plant is part of the family of evergreen shrubs. It can be poisonous for children, so be careful where you plant it. It can thrive in sunny areas or in partial shade.

Just 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 it 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 where ever 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 is 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, it is a bush and not an herb.

6 – Geraniums

Geraniums are a win/win plant. They will keep pesky cats away from your landscaped yard and garden, and they are one of the top 10 plants that realtors suggest their seller’s 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 as it’s scent repels cats and other 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 – 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 so 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. Find multi-packs of Phenomenal Lavender on amazon.

9 – Pennyroyal

Even though this plant is a definitely part of the mint family, it is also one of the smallest members. 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 potatoes that are to be roasted and as an herbed topping when cooking a nice cut of beef.

You will want to keep your rosemary plant in a container so you can move it around to accommodate it when the weather shift. It is the scent of the rosemary plant that repels cats. Bring it indoors if it gets too cold outside.

If you are trying to repel cats in your yard naturally, it is best to try any of these plants first. 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.

Before you go: Now is the perfect time to start tracking your gardening progress, and I created a garden journal to do exactly that. Click the image below to see it in action and to get your own copy.

Share this post:


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.