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5 Homemade Cat Repellents to Keep Cats Away (With Recipes)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Cat looking on as human spray cleans carpet

Cats can be a nuisance. They may scratch up your furniture, dig up your plants, or urinate and defecate in your garden beds. Whether you love cats or not, it’s frustrating when their behaviors impinge on your property. We believe in finding humane and cost-effective ways to dissuade felines from becoming a nuisance where they are not wanted. There are many natural, homemade solutions that repel cats without using toxic or harmful ingredients. Our list includes physical barriers, sprays, and other deterrents which will keep your home and garden humanely cat-free.

Repellent Sprays

1. Essential Oil Cat Repellent

essential oils
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Essential Oil Cat Repellent


  • 20 drops citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, lime, mint, peppermint, or orange essential oil
  • Water


  • Add 20 drops in total of any of the essential oils listed above to a spray bottle. Top up the spray bottle with water. Shake well to mix. Combine the oil and water, and then apply the cat repellent to areas where you don't want cats to congregate. In particular, it is effective for keeping cats away from house plants. The mixture should be sprayed liberally at all relevant locations.


Due to cats' heightened sensitivity to scents, essential oils with strong odors, such as citrus and lavender, can deter them. Lemon, citronella, wild orange, lavender, lime, peppermint, and eucalyptus all work well. You should use a glass bottle for the spray since plastic bottles degrade essential oils more quickly.
Method: Chemical
Effectiveness: High

2. Vinegar-Based Cat Repellent

hand spraying white vinegar solution_FotoHelin_shutterstock
Image Credit: FotoHelin, Shutterstock
Method: Biological
Effectiveness: Works Well

  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup liquid hand soap
  • ½ cup water
  • Combine equal parts of vinegar, water, and hand soap in a spray bottle and shake the mixture well to combine.
  • The mixture can be sprayed or wiped on areas that are targeted by cats. You can also spray this combination onto a cloth and wipe it over the surface of the object you wish to deter cats away from.


It’s best to use clear-colored vinegar for this spray to prevent discoloration on application. This combination does not react with plastic, so you can use either a plastic or glass spray bottle. Although you can use any type of hand soap for this recipe, it’s best to choose a clear formula. Again, this is to minimize any staining the cat repellent may cause.

3. Triple Action Citrus Cat Repellent

citrus fruits
Image Credit: Obodai26, Pixabay
Method: Aromatic
Effectiveness: Efficacious

  • 1 cup water
  • ½  cup citrus peel (grapefruit, lemon, lime, or orange)
  • 1 teaspoon citrus juice
  • Citrus-scented dish soap
  • Heat the water in a pot over medium-high heat until it reaches a rolling boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the citrus peel and reduce the heat to low.
  • Simmer the peel for 30 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat and strain.
  • Allow it to cool down completely.
  • Add the juice and dish soap and shake vigorously to combine.
  • Spray the mixture in any area of your house or garden where you want to keep cats away after thoroughly mixing the ingredients. It works well on floors and walls, as well as furniture.


Make sure the repellent doesn’t damage delicate surfaces or fabric-covered items by testing it out on a hidden spot.

Physical Deterrents

4. Repel a Cat With Obstacles

Couch covered in tin foil
Image Credit: Agnes Kantaruk, Shutterstock
Method: Barrier
Effectiveness: Moderate

Aluminum foil or sandpaper can also be wrapped or draped over furniture, carpets, and countertops. Double-sided tape is also an excellent cat repellent. These items provide a novel texture and create a surface cats find unpleasant to walk on, as they simply do not enjoy the feeling of these materials on their paws. It’s also a good idea to run a string along the top of your wall or fence to deter cats. This will make crossing the fence more challenging. Smearing a slippery oil to the top of a fence or wall will also deter cats as they do not like to get dirty. These are easy ways to teach a kitty to stay away from specific areas of your home or garden.

Water Deterrents

5. Spritzing a Cat With Water to Deter It

water spray bottle
Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay
Method: Physical
Effectiveness: High

All cats hate to get wet. You can’t spend your life patrolling your home and gardens with a water gun, but if you spray a cat often enough, it will eventually get the message. This is perhaps the easiest home remedy of them all, but it is also the most time-consuming. Repeating this process often enough will discourage a cat from returning. Motion-activated sprinklers are a great alternative when all else fails. The sprinkler sends a quick spray of water at the intruding kitty after when the cat enters its vicinity. Motion-activated sprinklers have proven to be the most effective repellent for unwanted cats and other wildlife. Although it is not “homemade”, it is a safe and natural solution that you may be able to take advantage of.

What Is the Best Homemade Cat Repellant?

Many people rate citronella oil as the most effective scent at dissuading cats from entering an area or lingering for very long. The only drawback to using heavily scented methods of preventing a cat from loitering is that you must live with the smells you employ. Of all of the methods listed above, we think the essential oil route is perhaps the most amenable to a home’s human occupants. For this reason, we think essential oil repellants, and in particular, the citronella-based repellant is the best one. This mixture may also have the added benefit of deterring mosquitos too!

cat in living room playing with hepper hi-lo cat scratcher while in highest position

Alternatively, our Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher replaces the need for repellent sprays entirely, providing a stylish yet effective way to keep your furniture safe from your cat’s claws. It combines modern design with functionality and its enticing shape (which can be configured to three different positions) and its B flute cardboard texture draws cats in, helping to fulfill their natural scratching instincts where it is welcome.

What Smells Will Repel Cats?

There are a wide variety of smells that felines dislike. All cats are different, and you may have to try several before finding the right one for your prowler. All citrus scents are loathsome to kitties, including grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange. You can use the peels, essential oils, or spray recipes listed above. Cats also generally despise cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, and mustard oil.

Does Vinegar Prevent Cats From Pooping?

With its strong, sour smell, vinegar is said to be highly effective in removing the odor of cat poop and preventing cats from returning. All you need is a spray bottle with vinegar and water. Spray the plants or areas where cats poop frequently and you should find they soon give up on their favorite rest area.


It’s not fun to have a cat making trouble where it’s not wanted. There are several non-toxic and humane ways to persuade an unwanted feline to go elsewhere. It’s easy to make a cat repellant spray by combining some of the strong scents cats dislike in a spray bottle and dousing your home and garden liberally. You can also try creating unusual textures on the surfaces cats are walking on or spritzing cats with water when they wander where they shouldn’t.

Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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