Do Marigolds Deter Cats?

Marigolds are often heralded as a way to deter a range of pests. With a strong odour, you might want to consider whether or not they would work against cats. So, do marigolds deter cats or not?

No, marigolds do not deter cats. Though they have a strong smell, cats still aren’t bothered by them. In fact, cats sometimes eat marigolds!

There are several flowers and plants that cats dislike, either because of the smell they produce or because they are toxic to cats.

A strong-smelling flower can sometimes be used as a cat deterrent as cats dislike strong smells because of their exceptionally powerful sense of smell.

This may make you question whether marigolds can also be used as a cat deterrent as they have a pungent smell. Marigolds, even though they have a strong smell, don’t deter cats, nor are they poisonous to cats.

There are two types of marigolds: Calendula Officinalis, also called pot marigolds, and Tagetes, also called French marigolds. Tagetes are toxic and may cause gastric problems if your cat eats them. 

Are Marigolds Toxic to Cats?

The results can be confusing if you’ve researched whether marigolds are safe or not. Some sources say that marigolds are toxic if consumed by cats, while some sources say that marigolds are edible and safe for cats. 

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center states that marigolds are non-toxic to cats and dogs if eaten. But the Cat Fanciers’ Association says that marigolds are poisonous to cats and other pets.

Toxicity depends on which type of marigold it is that you’re researching.

According to the ASPCA, Calendula Officinalis is termed a non-toxic plant. It’s also called pot marigold. However, the Tagetes form of marigold can be toxic if a cat or any other pet comes in contact with it.

Calendula, Mary Bud, Gold Bloom, Ruddles, Scotch Marigold, and Common Marigold are all safe types of marigold, and all of these are pot marigolds.

French marigolds, which are compact and bushy, are easier to grow and take care of in gardens. French marigolds have crested, semi-double, single, or double flowers and can grow to 6 or 12 inches in height. 

These marigolds are available in varying colours, such as orange, yellow, red, and bronze. These colourful flowers are certainly pretty, but they aren’t safe for cats.

If you love marigolds, remember to plant only pot marigolds as they will not harm cats or any other pets. Avoid other types of marigolds as they can be dangerous. 

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How Do You Use Marigolds to Deter Cats?

Marigolds have a strong smell but aren’t used as a cat deterrent. Instead, cats sometimes chew on marigolds and aren’t bothered by their smell. Though there are other plants, that cats seem to be not fond of.

Plants such as lavender, geraniums, and rosemary are some of the plants that can deter cats.

What Plants Deter Cats?

There are a number of plants that deter cats. You either need to pick plants with a string odour or those with a rough texture. Lavender, rosemary and lemon thyme all work really well. You could also try Coleus Canina which has been cultivated to deter cats but some people find that it smells of urine!

What Bedding Plants Deter Cats?

Unfortunately, very few bedding plants will work to deter cats. Geraniums have been known to deter some cats but they will not be 100% effective, unfortunately.

Should You Use Marigolds to Deter Cats?

Marigolds aren’t able to deter cats. In fact, cats seem to like marigolds, so they often go close to them and even chew on them! Marigolds come in varying types; some are safe for cats to be in contact with, while some can be toxic and must be avoided. 

Pot marigolds are safe marigolds that a cat can smell and even chew. It won’t have any negative effects on a cat or other pets.

However, the colourful and pretty-looking French marigolds must be kept away from cats; you shouldn’t plant them in your garden if you have pets. 

Why Don’t Marigolds Deter Cats?

Cats have an incredibly powerful sense of smell which makes them very sensitive to strong smells. This is why cats love some plants, like catnip, so much and why they hate other plants like rosemary.

We can only assume that marigolds fall into the former of these two and that cats, simply, love the smell of marigolds. Cats are, of course, inquisitive. They will find the smell of marigolds unusual (but not unpleasant) so will be drawn in to find out what the smell is and what is causing the smell.

Unfortunately, this is the risk of planting anything in your garden. One smell will deter cats whilst another will make them curious and can even attract cats to your garden – and that’s not what you want to see happening, is it?!


Marigolds are pretty sunny plants that lots of people love putting in their gardens. However, marigolds don’t deter cats, and cats aren’t even bothered by these plants. Cats also sometimes eat marigolds.

Toxicity depends on the type of marigold. Some types of marigolds are safe and won’t have any negative effects on a cat and other pets, while some marigolds will be toxic and make cats very sick.

Pot marigolds are safe, while any other type of marigold may be toxic to cats. Ultimately, if you want to deter cats from your garden then marigolds are not the way to go. 

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