While most commercial cat deterrents are designed to scare cats away, cat spray repellents work by making an area less attractive to cats by giving off a smell or taste they don’t like.
Some of them contain the urine of foxes or other cat predators so I suppose you could argue they fall under the cat scarer category too.
They are used on areas the cat does its business or sprays to mark its territory and this brings its first problem when opting for a cat spray repellent – assuming it works, the cat simply picks another spot to poop or spray.
If you have lots of area with loose soil (borders, raised beds, flower beds etc.) that is going to be attractive to cats looking to do their business then you could end up doing more harm than good by spreading the problem throughout your garden instead of keeping it isolated to one spot.
I have seen some gardeners recommend making an area tucked away somewhere in a corner of the garden attractive for the visiting cat so that at least you know where the crap is and while I can see the benefit of that if you owned cats, I don’t really want cats crapping anywhere in my garden. If you are lucky enough to have a large garden though this might be something you want to consider.
I purchased a tin of Growing Success Cat Repellent from B&Q and used it on my 2 raised beds. Unfortunately it stinks awful and as my beds are built into the decking patio this was a problem. I also found it wore off after about a day or instantly if it rained so needed applying regularly.
It did seem to be effective but because of the above problems it wasn’t very practical.
Cat spray repellents are fine for cat owners who want to keep their cat from an area in the house but for gardeners trying to keep their garden cat free, you are fighting a losing battle armed with one of these spray bottles.
Not only that, they are false economy too. Sure they only cost a few quid but you have to constantly keep applying the stuff. A decent electrical cat deterrent can be had for around a £20 more than a bottle of spray but will last at least a few years.
The Citrus Fruit Myth
Because of the close vicinity of the raised beds I decided to try odours that were less repulsive to my own nose and after reading how cats disliked citric smells I gave the orange peel trick a try.
This involved clearing away the poop (which you should do before applying any repellent) and spreading plenty of orange peel in and around the area.
Like most of the tips and tricks I found online, this had no effect at all and the cat pooped right in the middle of the area treated with the peel. I can only assume the smell is too weak outdoors to have any effect.
Another tip I found online that turned out to be yet another dud (for me at least) – spread some lion manure around your garden and the cats will run a mile. When I first read this on a forum I thought it was a joke but it wasn’t and there’s even a commercial product called Lion Manure by Silent Roar for those that don’t have access to the real thing.
It did nothing at all for the cats visiting my garden but like all repellents, it will work on some cats but not on others.
At the time of writing there are 150 reviews of Silent Roar that back that point up. From 5 stars claiming final relief from their cat problems to 1 stars claiming it did nothing. There’s even one that claimed the fowling increased after they spread the manure around!
With an average of 3 stars though it may well be worth trying at under a tenner.
Many of the commercial odour repellents use toxic ingredients so might do more harm than good. At the very least you will want to read the instructions carefully and don’t over use.
Cat repellent sprays that rely on smell are very hit and miss. A cats sense of smell fades with age and like us they each have different tastes so what is repulsive to some may not be to others. The other downsides are that they require constant replacement so are not a long term solution and some of them stink so not great for use near your patio or decking.
If you only have a small area to protect though, it could be a cheap and easy answer to your problems. Before buying any of the commercial ones though try these home made cat repellent recipes that were submitted by other readers of this blog.