What Essential Oils Deter Cats?

Cats can be a nuisance, messing up gardens and leaving their poop behind. There are a few ways you can deter cats, and one of them is essential oils. But what essential oils deter cats effectively?

Various essential oils, including peppermint, lavender, citronella, and garlic, deter cats effectively. However, some will attract cats!

Essential oils have a strong scent which cats hate. This is because cats have a strong sense of smell, much stronger than humans, which is why strong scents like essential oils keep cats away.

Cats have more than 200 million odour senses, whereas humans only have 5 million.

This is why essential oils are a good way to deter cats, especially for people with an organic garden. This method is effective and safe to use in gardens without harming plants. 

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What Scent Will Keep Cats Away?

When picking out essential oils to deter cats, it is important to choose those that will work. Unfortunately, it can be easy to pick out a scent that will attract cats instead of keeping them at bay.

Here are a few scents you can look for in essential oils to keep cats away:


Cats do not like the scent of lavender because of its powerful fragrance. This is why people also use lavender plants in their gardens to deter cats and protect their plants.

Lavender essential oils have a stronger scent than plants because they are a concentrated form of lavender.

Is Lavender Oil Toxic to Cats?

Yes, lavender oil is highly toxic to cats if they consume it, especially if used in its neat form. Even if a cat gets a little on their fur, it may lick it, resulting in a reaction.


Cats do not like citrus scents, including lemons, limes, oranges, and in some cases, lemongrass. Of course, all cats are different, and some can be attracted to lemongrass.

However, when it comes to citronella, cats do not like its scent. Citronella is an essential oil made from the leaves of lemongrass. This is highly concentrated form of citrus is far too pungent for a cat.

Is Citronella Oil Toxic to Cats?

Yes, citronella oil can be toxic to cats. There is always a risk of putting a cat’s life in danger with essential oils, which we do not endorse, so please ensure you use any essential oils in moderation.

Does Citronella Repel Cats


Another strong scent that cats do not like is peppermint. Cats are sensitive to the smell of peppermint, and it bothers them when they encounter it.

However, it is vital to use peppermint essential oil in a way that will not harm any cats. You must dilute it thoroughly in water or vinegar and then spray it to produce a fine mist.

Is Peppermint Oil Toxic to Cats?

Yes, ingesting peppermint oil can be harmful to cats. Most concentrated essential oils, including peppermint oil, are toxic to cats.


Garlic belongs to the Allium family and is great at deterring cats. Gardeners have used garlic in different forms in their gardens over the years to deter cats.

You can also get your hands on garlic oil to use in your garden like you would use any other essential oil. This form of garlic, like all essential oils, is highly concentrated, which means the scent is elevated, making it far more effective.

Is Garlic Oil Toxic to Cats?

Yes, garlic oil contains ingredients which are toxic to cats and are known to cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells.


While humans may enjoy the warming and cosy cinnamon smell, it is not the same for cats. Cinnamon has a strong scent that can put some cats off. You can get cinnamon oil to use in your garden, which is a natural way to deter cats.

Is Cinnamon Oil Toxic to Cats?

Yes, cinnamon oil can be toxic to cats. Ingestion and contact with their skin or paws can be toxic.

What Other Essential Oils Deter Cats?

Fortunately, the range of essential oils that can work to deter cats is quite extensive, but it all comes down to what is safe. Two common essential oils to consider are tea tree oil and Olbas oil.

What Essential Oils Attract Cats?

You may know which essential oils deter cats, but you must also know what attracts them. Purchasing just any essential oil is not enough. It can be unpleasant to purchase an essential oil only to find that it attracts cats instead of deterring them.

You will only be making your situation worse instead of remedying it. Here are a few essential oils that you should avoid: 


People love using chamomile essential oil to relax. Chamomile is great for humans and felines alike. This essential oil relaxes cats and attracts them. 

If you want to deter cats, the last thing you want to do is turn your garden into a relaxing retreat for them!


Cats can be attracted to rose plants in gardens. Therefore, it is likely that cats will also be attracted to rose essential oils.

If you use this essential oil in your garden or home, it can be the reason why it has the cat’s attention. 


Fruits come packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and all the good things. Therefore, many cats are attracted to fruity smells. You can find essential oils which are based on fruits. Many of these fruity smells will draw cats in.

What is the Most Effective Essential Oil?

Being a gardener, you will want what is best for your garden. However, with so many essential oils to choose from, it is difficult to put a finger on one and figure out which is the best.

Something you must keep in mind when using scents is that all cats are different.

There can be some cats, for example, which can be attracted to scents like peppermint while others will hate the smell.

However, the most effective oil you can use is cinnamon and citronella. Both these scents have shown promising results when it comes to deterring cats.

How Do You Use Essential Oils to Deter Cats?

When using essential oils, regardless of how annoying your neighbour’s cat is, you must do so safely. This means the oil must be diluted and hard to get to.

You can either dilute some essential oil drops into water or vinegar to create a homemade cat repellent spray. This can then be applied to fence posts, walls, furniture, pots or patios to deter cats.

You can also soak tea bags in a diluted mix of oil and water. Pop these soaked, smelly tea bags into a plastic bottle, screw the lid on and then pierce holes in the bottle to allow the odour to seep out without the cat getting close to the tea bags.


When determining which essential oils effectively deter cats, these are some common questions that get asked:

Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils Against Cats?

Most essential oils are toxic to cats, and were they to consume any of the oil, it can be detrimental to their health. You can, however, use essential oils safely in the garden if you use a cautious method.

Can Essential Oils Harm Plants?

Providing that the essential oil is diluted and that you do a patch test before spraying it widely, it’s unlikely that essential oils will harm plants in the garden.


Cats can be annoying as they loiter in gardens causing a mess and pooping in the soil. A way to effectively deal with this problem is to use essential oils. Different essential oils can help deter cats, including peppermint, lavender, garlic, and cinnamon.


Below are some of the sources of information we used to put this article together:

1 thought on “What Essential Oils Deter Cats?”

  1. How can I replace Essential oils with my homegrown fresh herbs ? Like Citronella, peppermint, Lavender, Rosemary Ect . Do I need to dry them ? Bake them ,boil them in the mixture ?


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