Water Bottle and Cat Myth

  • By: Bob
  • Last updated: December 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 2 min.

If you have spent more than half an hour looking for ways to keep cats out of your garden you will have come across the old water bottle and cat myth, probably more than once.

I have seen posts on gardeners forums where people swear leaving half filled bottles of water around the garden scares away visiting cats.

I’ve also read several explanations of why this works. The popular belief is that the reflection the cat sees looking back at it is larger than itself and so scares it off. Others range from the simple “cats hate water” or “the reflection of the Sun scares them” to the mental “it’s to do with the magnetic force that surrounds water.”

I can tell you that it is nothing more than a myth and doesn’t work. I suspect that the odd extra timid cat has been seen to leg it on seeing its own reflection in the bottle and this caused the myth to grow.

In Japan there is a real problem with stray cats and the Japanese have long believed in the water bottle myth. If you are ever lucky enough to visit that lovely country you will see water bottles everywhere in the residential areas, usually next to the garden wall or near the gate. Tourists often assume the bottles have been left for the homeowner.

The practice is so popular in fact that Mythbusters decided to put it to the test and it is pretty obvious that they put the superstition to bed once and for all.

As you can see in the video, the plastic water bottles did nothing to deter the cats. The cats are only slightly distracted and certainly not enough to get by them.

So there you go, that’s one cat repellent you don’t need to try.

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  1. Hi
    I had stray cat poo on my front and back lawns for months if not years.
    I was so sick of cleaning up the disgusting poo and I was informed of the half bottle of water technique. I tried out one bottle one night and low and behold- no more cat poo!
    I was very surprised myself.
    Thanks but I thought I would let people know out there that you should give it a go. You never know – it might work for you.

    1. Yup me too. It does work, thou you gotta get rid of all cat poop and smell first. Now they leave mine totaly alone!

  2. bad experiment – they should have tried it in a garden at night with no food and no consoling owners present.

  3. Its a half a bottle of water on its side. It deterred cats from crapping in the family garden. It worked for us so I consider it not a myth. Also most gardens don’t leave out food for strays.

  4. My brother told me about this idea !! it really does work.. maybe it is better that it is tried at night time as that is when the cats do what they do.. in my garden… not for the last 3 weeks…

  5. Its not a myth. I don’t know the reason, but when i hold opened bottles in Front of my Cats face, it gets scared and runs away. I tried this will all of the 9 Cats from my aunt (i know, she is a Bit crazy) and all of them showed the same reaction. I tried it with any Kind of bottles (fanta, Cola, Water)

  6. I got an idea, if you really want the cats gone maybe you shouldn’t leave a nice bowl of cat food out for them. It might just work!

  7. Maybe, just a thought, the reason why it works is because the cat that comes callin see’s the big bottle and thinks to itself, better not hang round here, look at the size of that CRAP!

  8. Ever notice how cats stay away from car’s headlight? It’s cat’s eyes that makes this water bottle trick work, but it only work at night time. Cat’s eyes are more of a reflector to gather the intensity of low light, and allows the feline to see better in the dark. Just a tiny bit more light will get its attention. That’s when the water bottle comes in. Its shape will refract external light and project some within the bottle, which will make the bottle “shining” in the eyes of a feline and will tends to stay away from what seems to be a brighter light source at night time. Any size bottle will work but make sure to fill it up instead of half way. It’ll look like a torch to a cat compare to half filled bottle. Experiment all you want as it had work for me for more than 20 years. It’s easy to know it works because I have an indoor dog that will act up all night when there’s cat at either front or back yard.

  9. Sorry people this definitly didnt work for me new neighbour moved i witn 2 cats not only do they spend more time on my garden and fence than indoor with them they were using my tulip and dafodil patch for pooping , i recdntly found thrm doing it on the middle of the lawn all over where it cannot even be coverec , readon i found was the patches had mountains of hidden poop had to spend 30 mins clearing the disgusting poo while the woman ne t door was cheekily watching through her patio doors 🙁 came here saw the comments and added 5 bottles of water bottles on its sides to at the places they poop this in addition to cat reppelent granules i had spread out next morning i ffind 3 puddles one right next to a bottle and on top of granules , after i cleared them in the freezing cold i could see they have done it right next to another one is there any special trick to this?

    1. Actually, my neighbor does this trick with several large 5-Liters sized transparent water bottles filled to the top with water. She places them upright one at each corner of our floor in the building, and one next to each apartment door. She also replaces the bottles with new ones every once in a while. And the cats really wander anywhere in the building except our floor! .. I don’t really know if the cats refrain from wandering in our floor because of this trick or something else, but maybe you should try it this way.. who knows? 😉

  10. Actually bottles ATTRACT cats; they do’t deter them. It is a well-known facts that cats are all alcoholics and they think the bottles contain Gin BUT you can deter them by not leaving bottles of tonic around; cats prefer gin-and-vermouth to gin-and-tonic and will clear off in a huff 😉

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