Is Garlic a Cat Repellent?

  • By: Bob
  • Last updated: February 19, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Is it true that cats hate the smell of garlic or is yet another old wives’ tale and if they do, can we actually use it to keep neighborhood cats out of our garden or off our lawns?

Read on for answers to these questions and more by exploring the basics of using garlic as a cat deterrent. We’ll look at garlic plants, cloves of fresh or dried garlic powder and homemade garlic spray – all in order to determine whether garlic really can discourage cats.

Understanding the Basics of Garlic as a Cat Repellent

Is garlic a cat repellent?
We know it has health benefits to us if used in our cooking but is garlic a cat repellent?

What is Garlic?

Garlic is a member of the onion family and grows in many parts of the world. The bulbs are made up of several cloves that can be peeled off and eaten raw or cooked. Garlic also contains sulfur compounds that give it its strong odor and flavor when crushed or chopped.

Is Garlic Safe for Cats?

Cats hate the smell of garlic but the scent won’t harm them or other animals. Garlic does contain thiosulphate which can be toxic to cats if eaten in large amounts as it can cause damage to their red blood cells leading to hemolytic anemia. However, as almost all cats hate garlic this is a very rare occurrence.

Does Garlic Work as a Cat Repellent?

Yes. Studies have found that both wildcats and domestic cats tend to avoid areas where they smell garlic because they find the scent unpleasant. This makes it an effective way to keep cats out of gardens without having to resort to commercial cat deterrent sprays which can be harmful if ingested by pets or wildlife living nearby.

Recap: Garlic can be an effective way to repel cats from gardens without the use of chemical repellents, as cats dislike its strong odor and flavor unpleasant.

Garlic Plant as a Cat Repellent

wild garlic in flower
wild garlic in flower

What is Wild Garlic Plant? Also known as Allium vineale, is an edible perennial herb native to North America. It has long been used in traditional medicine and cooking due to its strong aroma and flavor. The plant grows up to three feet tall with broad leaves that are typically green or grayish-green in color. Its flowers are small white or pink clusters of star-shaped blooms.

Benefits of Using Wild Garlic Plant as a Cat Repellent

One of the main benefits of using this plant to repel cats is its natural scent which cats find unpleasant and most try to avoid it altogether. Additionally, this herb can be grown easily in most climates and requires minimal maintenance once established.

This herb, with its natural odour which cats find unappealing, is an excellent plant for those who wish to keep cats away without having to resort to the use of noxious substances or other methods that could be damaging for their plants and neighboring creatures.

How to Use Garlic to Deter Cats?

To use this plant effectively against cats sow them directly into the soil around your garden beds where you want protection from cats entering the area. You may need several plants spaced evenly apart for optimal coverage but make sure not to overcrowd them so they have enough room for growth over time.

Once planted, water regularly until the plants become established and begin producing flowers which will further enhance their effectiveness at deterring cats from entering your yard space.

Growing and maintaining the plant in your garden requires adequate sunlight (at least six hours per day) and minimal watering so it doesn’t become susceptible to root rot or other diseases caused by too much moisture in the soil mix.

Additionally prune back any dead foliage regularly throughout the season for optimal growth and coverage against cats entering your yard space.

Wild garlic is superb at repelling cats from your garden. However, if you’re looking for an alternative method, cloves of garlic may also work as a deterrent for neighbourhood cats.

Recap: As a plant garlic will deter cats due to its strong aroma, and it requires minimal maintenance when planted in the garden.

Using Cloves of Garlic as a Cat Repellent

garlic cloves
Garlic cloves

What are Cloves of Garlic?

Cloves of garlic are the small, dried flower buds that grow on a type of wild onion plant. They have a strong aroma and flavor, which makes them popular in cooking. In addition to their culinary uses, cloves of garlic can also be used as an effective cat repellent.

Benefits of Using Cloves of Garlic as a Cat Repellent

The strong smell and taste of cloves is off-putting for cats and other animals. This makes it an ideal natural cat repellent that is safe to use around your garden or home without harming pets or wildlife. It’s also easy to find at most grocery stores and relatively inexpensive compared to other commercial cat repellents.

How to Use Cloves of Garlic as a Cat Repellent?

To use cloves or garlic powder to deter cats, simply place in areas where you want cats to stay away from such as near plants or along pathways leading into your yard or garden. You can also sprinkle ground up cloves or garlic powder around these areas if you don’t have whole ones available.

The scent will help keep cats away but will need refreshing every few weeks depending on how often they visit your property.

For best results when using cloves as a cat deterrent, place them close together so the smell is more concentrated and harder for cats to ignore. This should be done every few weeks if necessary since the smell will fade over time.

Cloves of garlic may be an effective way to repel cats from your garden, yet for a more potent solution, try concocting a homemade garlic spray. Let’s delve into the details of how this homemade garlic spray operates, and learn the steps for creating and applying it.

Recap: Cloves of garlic can be an effective and affordable way to deter cats when placed in strategic areas around your garden or home, as their strong smell and taste are off-putting for cats.

Making and Using Homemade garlic Spray to Repel Cats

garlic powder

To make your own homemade spray, you will need 1 cup of chopped fresh garlic cloves (or 2 tablespoons if using garlic powder), 4 cups of warm water, 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap (preferably unscented), and a container with a lid for storage.

Start by chopping the fresh cloves into small pieces before adding them to the warm water in your container with the dish soap. Shake well until all ingredients are combined then let sit overnight before straining out any solids through cheesecloth or another fine mesh sieve into your storage container with lid attached tightly shut when not in use. 

To apply the mixture around areas where cats may enter such as fences or windowsills simply transfer into a spray bottle and apply directly onto surface areas making sure not to saturate but lightly mist instead. Reapply every few days depending on how often cats visit area being treated

Recap: Garlic spray is an effective, natural way to deter cats that can be made from garlic cloves, water and soap. It’s safe for both humans and animals, inexpensive to make and should be reapplied regularly for maximum effectiveness.


Is it OK for cats to smell garlic?

Cats do not like the smell of garlic and most will try to avoid it but if they do smell it, it will do them any harm.

What does garlic do to cats?

Garlic has a strong smell that cats find unpleasant. It can be used as a deterrent to keep cats away from gardens and other areas of the home. Garlic contains thiosulfinates, which are compounds that give garlic its characteristic odor and taste.
When ingested in large amounts, cats may experience gastrointestinal upset such as retching or diarrhoea due to the thiosulfinates present in garlic, which lend it its unique aroma and flavour.

What other smell keeps cats away?

Cats possess an acute olfactory sense and there are plenty of smells cats hate. Common strong scents that cats dislike include:
Citrus peels
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Coffee grounds
Spraying these odors around the perimeter of your garden can help keep cats away. There are also plenty of plants that deter cats that you could add to your borders.
In addition, employing deterrents such as motion-activated sprinklers, ultrasonic cat repellents or bright illumination can also prove effective in repelling cats from your garden.

What is the best homemade cat repellent?

The most effective homemade cat repellent recipe I have found so far is a combination of citrus peels, essential oils, and water. Citrus peels contain limonene which cats find unpleasant. Essential oils such as lavender or peppermint can also be used to repel cats.
Mix the components together in a spray bottle and spread it liberally around your garden or outdoor area. The scent will help keep cats away while not harming them in any way.
Cats have there own likes and dislikes so although this worked for me on a particular Tom, it may not work on the cats in your area.


In summary, garlic can be utilized to keep cats away. Garlic plants, cloves and even garlic powder are all effective in deterring cats from entering an area. Furthermore, making a homemade garlic spray with water and crushed cloves of garlic can also be used to repel cats from your garden or yard.

We all know it can be difficult to stop cats entering our gardens and we can’t all surround ourselves with a cat proof fence but if you’re a gardener fed up with finding cat poop in your flower beds, try growing some garlic among your other plants to discourage cats from entering your yard. Not only does it deter cats, garlic has many health benefits for us when used in cooking so its a win win.

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