Thursday 8 June 2023

Plant scents that are a deterrent to nuisance cats? Are they effective?

From time to time, we see an article in the online news media about deterrents to stop neighbours' cats from coming into your garden. Non-cat owning gardeners hate it because domestic cats like to go to the toilet in a nice fresh area of well fertilised flower bed. All that tender loving care can be undermined a little.

The Express in the UK has one of these articles online today. They list 'offensive scented low maintenance garden plants to deter cats from fouling outside'.

Lavender is not an effective cat deterrent
Lavender is not an effective cat deterrent. Image: MikeB

They suggest four plants which produce a scent that cats hate. The objective: to make your garden as unpleasant as possible for domestic cats as they have excellent noses.

The problem is this: they don't work! The scent of plants does not work as an effective cat deterrent.

I know that from general research and personal experience. For example, I have lavender in my backyard. A big bush of it near the patio. Lavender is the number one deterrent plant according to the Express.

For years my cat has walked past and brushed against this big bush of lavender and nothing! No effect. Nada. Zilch. He ignored it.

So that is the end of lavender as a cat deterrent as far as I am concerned. 

But my experience is backed up by science. Google Scholar has no articles on plants as cat deterrents as at the date of this post.

The scientists do not see research on plant scent deterrents as useful or viable. They don't want to waste their time.

The other three plants that the Express say are effective deterrents are: Rosemary, Rue and Pennyroyal.

Just in case you think they are worth a try; I wouldn't bother. The scientists says that ultrasonic noise deterrents work fairly well. You can buy them online at a fairly modest price.

Do ultrasonic cat deterrents work?

The one downside is that some people can hear ultrasonic sound. You won't know if you can until you have bought the device. It may be a waste of money if the deterrent deters you as well from going onto your own garden! 😎

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