Do Cats Hate the Smell of Citrus?

We all get frustrated with the local cat deciding to come into the garden, uninvited, to make a mess of our perfectly manicured flower beds. However, did you know you can use scents to keep cats from loitering your garden? But do cats hate the smell of citrus?

Cats detest a lot of scents. The good news is that yes, cats hate the smell of citrus in many forms.

Cats will hate anything that smells like citrus, including citrus fruits, essential oils, or any citrus-scented plants.

Many annoyed gardeners use citrus to repel cats and stop them from entering their gardens. Using citrus is effective because it is natural, does not harm the garden, and keeps cats away without harming them too. 

Why Do Cats Hate the Smell of Citrus?

While humans may find citrus smells refreshing, cats hate it. Not only citrus, but cats also do not like to consume anything citrus-related. 

A cat’s ability to smell is much stronger than a human’s. Therefore, it is normal if cats find some scents stronger than others. Since citrus fruits are strongly aromatic even to us humans, they appear even stronger to cats. This can be overpowering, as you can imagine.  

Do Cats Hate the Smell of Citronella?

Citronella is a natural essential oil made from lemongrass leaves. This essential oil poses benefits for humans; however, cats hate the smell of it. Citronella has strong scents which repel cats and keep them away.

The great thing about citronella is that it is non-toxic. Therefore, you do not have to worry about citronella harming any cats. You can use citronella by making a mixture to spray in your garden.

You can begin by mixing a few drops of citronella oil in water and then spraying in your garden. You must ensure to spray in spots where cats most often soil.

It is safe to use citronella on your plants as it will not damage them. If you’re worried about your plants then you can perfect a quick patch test by spraying one or two leaves with the citronella mixture.

How to Use Citrus to Deter Cats

You can use citrus in various ways to deter cats. Since cats are sensitive to smells, they will run in the opposite direction from anything which smells like citrus. Therefore, you can use citrus fruits and oils to keep cats at bay without harming them or anyone else in the process:

Use Citrus Peels

Most of us get rid of citrus peels, but they can be valuable. You can place the citrus peels in between soil, so the scent travels and keeps cats away. Other places you can place the citrus peel are in flower pots or any place where cats enter. 

Citrus peels are a great natural way to keep cats away. Not only does it keep the cats at bay, but it acts as a natural fertilizer. The citrus peels decompose and give back to your garden.

Therefore, you do not need to worry about cleaning any mess. However, when it rains, citrus peels can wash away. Unfortunately, you must also replace the citrus peels that have decomposed.  

Make a Spray

You can make a citrus solution to spray in your garden to keep cats out. You can make a spray using lemon or orange juice along with water. The spray is natural and, therefore, will not cause harm to your plants.

You can use the spray in spots where cats show up too much, or it is their favourite place to poop. However, since citrus juice is so acidic, it can bleach some surfaces so always do a patch test somewhere hidden.

Create a Powder

Another way you can utilize citrus is to dry citrus peels and turn them into powder. You can sprinkle the powder in your garden, covering a larger surface area.

However, like the peels, the rain can wash away the powder, so you need to replace it regularly. You should also consider mixing this dried citrus powder with other strong scents such as ground cinnamon or garlic powder.

What Other Scents Do Cats Hate?

Apart from citrus, there are many other scents that cats hate. You can use these scents if cats frequently enter your garden to soil it. 

Cats do not like the scent of vinegar. Vinegar, like citrus fruits, is highly acidic and has a strong scent. Therefore, cats hate the scent of vinegar and avoid it. You can dilute the vinegar with water and spray it in your garden so no cats enter it. 

Many people also use seasonings in their gardens to keep cats away. Seasonings like pepper have a strong scent that cats detest. You can sprinkle the seasonings in your garden; however, although it is not harmful, it does irritate the cat’s eyes and paws. 


Among many other scents, cats hate the scent of citrus. Cats are a common garden pest that can poop in it and affect the health of plants. Hence, people are always looking for a way to deter cats. 

However, by using citrus scents, you can keep cats away from spoiling your garden. Citronella is an essential oil that is made from lemongrass leaves. You can use citronella oil to make a mix to spray in your garden.

You can also use citrus peels, sprays, and powders in your garden.

Apart from citrus scents, cats hate other scents, including vinegar, banana, and pepper. 

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