How to Keep Cats Out of the Vegetable Garden

How to Keep Cats Out of the Vegetable Garden

Although cats are awesome, lovable pets for millions of people, sometimes they can be a problem in the vegetable garden.

Feral cats, or just neighborhood cats that are allowed to roam freely, can enter your yard and vegetable garden, possibly turning it into their very own litter box.

Someone on the Veggie Gardener Facebook Page recently brought up a similar problem, and asked for some advice on keeping cats out of the vegetable garden.

Luckily, I haven’t had the problem myself, so I asked the community to add their expertise on humane ways of keeping cats out of the vegetable garden.

Here’s some of the awesome advice they offered:

Use Citrus Peels and Sprays

According to Sue from the Facebook Page, cats detest anything citrus and will stay away from it.

She explained that her grandmother used to surround her vegetable garden with orange, lemon, and lime peels to keep neighborhood cats out of it. She also planted onions and garlic around the vegetable garden to get rid of cats and deter many insect pests.

Provide the Cats Food and a Litter Box

Sally recommends providing the cats food and a litter box away from your vegetable garden. If they have food and a place to potty they will not do it in your vegetable garden.

This is a great alternative way of luring the cats away from your vegetables.

If you are not a huge fan of cats then I would not suggest this method, because you may lure more cats to your yard. If you do not mind having them around, but just want them to stay away from the garden area, it’s a great solution.

Use Upside Down Plastic Forks In Raised Beds

Cherina Keeps Cats Out of Her Vegetable Garden Beds Using Upside Down Plastic Forks
Cherina offered a great solution for keeping cats out of vegetable garden beds by using upside down plastic forks to protect young seedlings.

For whatever reason, cats do not like prickly things and will stay away from them.

The upside down forks are a quick and easy way to protect your seedlings from being dug up by cats.

Thanks to Cherina for permission to use her photo!

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Several people suggested using motion-activated sprinklers for keeping cats out of the vegetable garden. Everyone knows that cats hate water.

Place a couple of these sprinklers around your vegetable garden and whenever a cat comes around it will get a quick, harmless shot of water, running it off.

These sprinklers are also great for dogs, deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and other animals that you want to keep out.

Ultrasonic Repellers

There are also several ultrasonic repellers on the market that work well for keeping cats out of your vegetable garden. These repellers emit a high frequency tone that cats and other animals cannot stand.

Just remember if you use one of these repellers it can affect your own pets if you have any.

Use Bird Netting

Another great suggestion was to use bird netting over your vegetable garden to keep cats and other animals from gaining access to your vegetables.

This would work really well if you have a small garden, or an isolated area that you need to keep cats out of.

Garlic Plant Clips

Cats and dogs do not particularly like the smell of garlic, so placing garlic clips throughout your vegetable garden is a great way to keep them away.

The clips can be placed around vegetables, or clip right to the stem of plants. The garlic aroma is also good for deterring deer and rabbits.

Use Humane Traps

Not everyone is going to agree with this tip, but another way to keep cats out of your vegetable garden is to use a humane trap and take them to your local Humane Society, or ASPCA.

Havahart makes a very good humane trap that works well for safely trapping cats without harming them. This is a good solution if you have just a couple feral cats in your area.

You may need to call your local Animal Control office for high populations of feral cats.

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11 Comments on How to Keep Cats Out of the Vegetable Garden

  1. I used red pepper flakes and it worked just fine. I’m hoping it will keep the birds out of my flower pots on the porch, as well. They have been picking in the poor chrysanthemum as it’s trying to come back from last year. The other one is getting big, and this one is being bullied. >:(

  2. Similar to your bird netting suggestion, I put chicken wire over or around my seedlings until they start filling out a bit. It seems to work well. Once there is a lot of foliage, the cats aren’t interested anymore.

    • Hi Nick – great suggestion! Do you use the chicken wire draped across a bunch of seedlings at once, or so you cover individual seedlings? Thanks!

      • Unfortunately, I didn’t come up with the idea until after the cats had destroyed quite a few of my young radishes, turnips, beets, and carrots! I’m doing the “square foot” thing, so I already have a frame over my garden, dividing it into 1’x1′ squares. The frame itself discouraged that cats but (like your plastic forks suggestion) just wasn’t enough to keep them out entirely. I generally cut the wire into 1 or 2 square foot pieces and drape it over the frame. I leave it over the squares until the veggies are about 4-6 inches tall; by then they usually have enough of the ground covered in leaves that the cats don’t see enough room to use it for a litter box. I let the asparagus poke through the wire and leave it on until just before the spears start to branch out. I can post pictures later.

  3. The citrus peels did the trick for me. My indoor cats HATE the smell of citrus, and this was the cheapest organic option, so it was worth a shot. I eat an orange daily, and then rip up the peels and spread them in among the mulch. Since I’ve added those and removed all the prior ground graffiti, I haven’t had a problem with cats using my mulch as litter. I just wish all cat owners would keep them inside. Not only safer for the cat, saner for the neighbors. The green onions I planted didn’t stop the cats; they even dug a few of them up.

  4. Hi, Tee! I’m glad I found your post. These are helpful tips. My cats and their kittens have been using my vegetable garden as their very own litter box. I admit I’m guilty of feeding them near it. So I’ll have to lure them away. I like the plastic fork idea. Good thing I haven’t thrown all my plastic forks in the trash. I’m also gonna try surrounding my vegetable garden with citrus or lemon peels and I’ll be planting garlic next. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi — I just wanted to say I stumbled upon your website and I really like it! Thank you for the easy to read, quick how-to guides!

  6. Birds sand bathing in garden and tearing up my seedlings. What me do?

  7. Tried the red pepper flakes but did not deter the cat from using my pepper plants for a litter box

  8. I have always sprinkled garlic powder on my mulch an always had good luck keeping the cats out.

  9. Like your ideas i installed pvc pipes to deep water the tomatoes. I will use the moisture meter to make sure i dont get carried away. I like using composted manure tea as a fertilizer.

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