Does Malt Vinegar Deter Cats?

There are several things that cats may not be a big fan of. Often, those things have strong, pungent smells that are exceptionally powerful to a cat’s strong nose. Malt vinegar has a particularly punchy smell so does malt vinegar deter cats or not?

Yes, cats don’t like the smell of malt vinegar. Cats have a very powerful sense of smell, so vinegar’s smell is unbearable to cats which is why malt vinegar can deter cats.

Like many animals, cats dislike the smell of malt vinegar and avoid going near it even when it’s dried up. Using malt vinegar to deter cats is an effective, humane and effortless way of preventing cats from going to places you don’t want cats to be.

Cats have highly developed senses. Their sense of smell is famously 14 times stronger than people’s. Their strong sense of smell is due to the number of olfactory cells (you can learn more about them here).

A cat has 150 million to 300 million olfactory cells, while humans only have 10 million.

So, with such a strong nose, you can imagine a cat would despise a smell that you might like. The smell of malt vinegar might seem a little sour to you, but it’ll be 10 times worse for a cat.

This is why malt vinegar can be used as an effective deterrent both indoors and outdoors. You can deter stray cats from coming to your yard and deter your pet cat from scratching the sofa. 

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Is Malt Vinegar Toxic to Cats?

If you’re using vinegar to deter cats and a cat is curious enough to take a sip of it, as most cats are, it can be concerning as you don’t know if it’s safe to be ingested by a cat or not. The answer is no; malt vinegar or any vinegar, in general, is not toxic to cats. 

Using malt vinegar is very effective and safe to deter cats. Though, due to its strong smell, cats will likely never drink vinegar willingly as its smell is unbearable to their tiny powerful noses. 

Is Malt Vinegar Bad for Plants?

Unfortunately, anything that is highly acidic is likely to cause damage to your plants. If you’re going to use malt vinegar in your garden then try to avoid direct contact with your plants if you want to avoid damaging them.

How Do You Use Malt Vinegar to Deter Cats?

Malt vinegar is an amazing and safe method to deter cats. It can deter cats from scratching garden favourites or pooping in your manicured flower beds.

If you want to deter your neighbour’s cat from your garden, you can use a spray bottle to spray vinegar on places where the cats most often go near. You can spray around plants, tree bases, garden accessories, and garden fences. Spray anywhere the cat has been seen to visit frequently. 

Spray several times every week or whenever it is needed. You should also apply after you’ve watered your plants and after it has rained.

Be warned, however, that vinegar can sometimes turn plants brown or stain furniture and garden ornaments. To avoid damage to your plants and surfaces, you can dilute it with one or two parts of water.

Also, test surfaces and items before you spray vinegar to avoid damage!

Remember, you can also combine vinegar with other deterrent ingredients such as curry powder, garlic or rosemary oil to further enhance the success rate of your deterrent spray.

You just need to combine these ingredients in a spray bottle with water and give it a good shake to ensure they’re combined before dousing your garden.

Should You Use Malt Vinegar to Deter Cats?

Using malt vinegar is one of the safest and most effortless ways you can deter cats from going into your garden, digging up your plants and pooping wherever they see fit. Fortunately, it’s not toxic and can therefore be used to deter cats from your garden without fear.

Be warned, however, that malt vinegar can sometimes stain surfaces and items and can turn leaves of plants brown so test the items and surfaces before you apply vinegar to avoid any damage. 

All you need to do is rub a little malt vinegar on an inconspicuous area that no one will see, wait 24 hours and see if it has stained. This is important on garden ornaments, furniture, patios and border edging – all of which can take on some staining from vinegar.

Do Other Vinegar Deter Cats?

All types of vinegar can effectively deter cats from places you don’t want them to be roaming around. White vinegar can sometimes cause some damage to plants and items, so you’ll have to dilute it with water until you find the minimum necessary amount that can be effective in deterring your cat. 


Malt vinegar (and any vinegar) is a good multipurpose tool that can be used as a cleaning agent, a cooking ingredient, but, most importantly to deter cats from a place that’s off-limits.

Cats have an amazing sense of smell; because of it, they cannot stand vinegar’s strong sour smell, so they’ll avoid an area that smells like it, making malt vinegar an effective deterrent and a safe method to deter cats.

All types of vinegar can be effective deterrents, and you can use a homemade cat repellent spray to apply vinegar by spraying on places such as on fence panels, around plants, or on walls that cats might climb up and over.

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