Does Lemon Deter Cats?

Lemon is both easy to obtain, cheap and natural. So the question you’ve probably got is can you use it to deter cats. Yes, there is a chance that lemon will help you to deter that pesky cat that won’t stop using your garden as their own toilet but there are a few rules to stick to avoid harming the cat. Read on to discover how best to use lemon as a cat repellent:

How to Use Lemon to Deter Cats

There are two options you have when it comes to using lemon to deter cats. The first is to create a spray. All you need to do is mix some lemon juice (or lemon-scented washing up liquid) in a spray bottle and spray the area where a cat is often found littering your garden.

The other, safer approach to take is to create a lemon-scented bottle. First, grab an empty coke bottle and piece a few holes in the sides. The holes should just be small. Next, grab some used tea bags and soak in a mixture of water and plenty of strong lemon juice. Push the soaked teabags into the bottle, screw the lid on and then leave it where a cat enters your garden. The bottle should give off a faint lemon odour. Remember cats have far stronger noses so will pick the smell up easily.

Will Other Forms of Lemon Deter Cats?

The problem with lemon is the choice. You’re not just limited to fresh lemon fruits but there are other forms of lemon which you can try to use as a deterrent in your garden. We’ve covered a couple of them below:

Will Lemon Balm Deter Cats?

Lemon balm can have a deterring impact on cats but it will come down to the cats. When it comes to using lemon balm, you’ll want to plant it near to where the cat is coming into your garden. The idea is that the cat will brush against the plant, the plant will release the odour and the cat will then be put off from entering that part of your garden out of fear of touching the plant.

Will it work? It’s one of those that might just work for the cat you’re trying to get rid of but it’s far from guaranteed.

Will Lemon Balm Deter Cats

Will Citronella Deter Cats?

Citronella is best known for getting rid of nuisance flies but can it work for deterring cats. It certainly can work. In fact, the method we have used above with tea bags can work well with citronella oil in place of the lemon juice.

Should You Use Lemon to Deter Cats?

When it comes to using anything in the garden as a repellent to cats, you do have to ask yourself a question: Should you use it? A lot of foodstuffs and chemicals (understandably) are toxic to cats. It’s why we advise against using Jeyes Fluid, for example. So the question is, will lemon harm cats or not?

Will Lemon Harm Cats?

Like a lot of food items, lemons can be harmful to cats. Both lemons and limes can be toxic to cats and dogs. They contain psoralens which can make then toxic to cats when ingested. The good news is that it takes a substantial quantity to ingested for it to become harmful. A lick is not going to have an impact. That is why we would say it is perfectly fine to use lemon in your garden as a cat deterrent but do use any deterrents responsibly.

One of the better ways to use lemon is to use it to scent the garden but make it inaccessible for cats to ingest.

Will Lemon Harm Plants?

Lemon is unlikely to have any impact on other plants, especially with the quantities you would be using as a cat deterrent. With it being so acidic, there is a chance it will burn some leaves and can impact the PH level of soils but you would need to use a significant amount to have any real detrimental impact on your garden.

Will Lemon Harm Other Animals?

If you have got a pet dog, then it might be best to err on the side of caution when using lemons in the garden. A few years ago, a viral sensation involved filming a dog’s reaction to lemons. The results were hilarious at the time until the RSPCA had to step in to warn that dogs might be reacting the way they do because lemons are in fact toxic to them.

The toxicity is similar for both cats and dogs and that’s why you need to be cautious about the quantities of lemon you use as a deterrent.


Lemon is natural and won’t harm cats if used sparingly. That’s why we’d recommend giving lemon a try as a deterrent. It helps that it smells pleasant to humans and is also cheap to try out in the garden. There’s no need to splash out on a fancy gadget that might not even work. Instead, just pop down to your local supermarket and grab a bottle of ready-to-go lemon juice. They’ll often come in handy spray bottles too!

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