Unfortunately, as you can probably appreciate, there’s no definitive answer when looking for a spice that deters all cats. One cat might hate the smell of mustard, while another won’t be put off by it. It’s a case of trial-and-error to determine what spice deters the cat you’re dealing with.
Below, we have outlined some of the most popular spices to use as a deterrent. You’ll need to go through each of these and try them out in the garden over the course of a few weeks and keep an eye on how the cat reacts. You might strike gold with the first blow, or it might take you a month or so to find the right combination.
There’s no denying that cayenne is hot and spicy. But we’re not here to try and set a cat’s tongue on fire, instead, we want to focus on the strong chilli scent it gives off. In order to use spices as a deterrent, you’re looking to create unfamiliar, strong odours that put cats off and that’s exactly what cayenne pepper will do.
Have you ever stuck your nose into a tin of English mustard powder? It’s lethal, that’s for sure (well not literally, don’t worry). Cat’s have are a far stronger nose so, as you can imagine, that pungent smell of mustard is intensified and no cat or human would enjoy that.
Like cayenne, the scent of chilli is heightened for cats with their strong noses. As you can probably imagine, super-strong chilli scents shooting up your nostrils is not going to be particularly pleasant which is why it instantly puts cats off.
A lot of the spices that we’ve included on this list as understandably off-putting. A hit of chilli or pepper is never going to be hugely pleasant. But cinnamon? That’s sweet, fragrant, used in candles and invokes Christmas. But, for whatever reason, it’s simply not a smell that cats find pleasing – that’s why it can be used to deter cats even if you happen to like the smell yourself.
Whenever you give black pepper a quick sniff it can make you sneeze, right? Well, imagine if that strong peppery scent was increased 10-fold. That’s what a cat will smell. As you can imagine, it would put anyone off if it was 10 times as strong and that’s why it can work great for repelling cats.
Smokey and spicey, paprika has a distinct scent that seems to be particularly disliked by cats. We’ve actually written a dedicated article about using paprika as a cat repellent so why not give that a read to learn more about paprika and it’s cat deterrent properties.
How to Use Spices to Deter Cats?
There are a few options you have when it comes to using spices to deter cats.
Option a is the easiest. You simply take the spices and sprinkle them, neat, on the area that the cats continue to use as its own personal litter tray. This method is the quickest and easiest to implement but might not be the most effective and is certainly not cost-effective as a little bit of rain will wash away all your efforts.
Option b involves creating a cat repellent spray. Generally speaking, you’ll want to mix some of these spices into water and/or vinegar to create a pungent-smelling cat deterrent spray. We’ve actually created a list of easy-to-make, homemade cat sprays here.
Option c involves using tea bags – no, really! The problem with some sprays is that it can settle onto surfaces which cats can lick and that can be toxic to them and cause them harm. That’s not something we would advocate. Instead, what you can do is mix up your spray mix as above but then soak tea bags in the mixture instead of spraying it. Place these tea bags into a plastic bottle with a few holes it and it’ll release the odour without giving the cat access.
Should You Use Spices to Deter Cats?
The most important thing to consider when using any deterrents is whether or not it will cause any harm to the cat. You might be getting frustrated with the cat in question but that isn’t really an excuse to cause harm to your neighbour’s pet. That’s why, it’s vital that you consider whether a spice is toxic to cats or not and if it is, what quantity and what form is it harmful.
Which Spices are Toxic to Cats?
Cats are incredibly sensitive to a multitude of spices and many are completely toxic to them. That’s why you should err on the side of caution when using a lot of spices in the garden and the way in which you use those spices. Some of the most toxic spices and ingredients to cats include:
- Onions, garlic, shallots
- Cinnamon and nutmeg in large quantities
- Eucalyptus essential oil (which we’ve written about here)
The list is quite lengthy so it’s worth checking with a vet which spices can harm cats before you use them in your garden.
Spices can and do work to deter some cats. It’s hardly the most helpful answer, we know. But if you’ve spent any length of time trying to dissuade cats from intruding on your garden you’ve probably discovered that what might work for one cat doesn’t work for another.
That’s why having the perfect combination of deterrents is key. Give some of the spices in the list above a whirl and if they don’t prove too successful then try combining with herbs that deter cats also.