How to Keep Cats from Pooping in My Yard

Updated: September 30, 2023


Keeping cats from pooping in your yard can be a frustrating challenge for any homeowner or gardener. The presence of cat feces not only poses a hygiene concern but can also damage plants and compromise the aesthetics of your outdoor space. Fortunately, there are effective and humane strategies to deter cats from using your yard as their personal litter box.

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand why cats are drawn to your yard. They are naturally territorial animals, and if they perceive your outdoor space as an inviting environment, they may return repeatedly. Additionally, loose soil and mulch can resemble the texture of a litter box, making it an appealing spot for them.

In this guide, we will explore a range of practical and considerate methods to discourage cats from pooping in your yard. These methods span from natural deterrents like plants and scents, to physical barriers and technology-driven solutions. By implementing these strategies, you can create a cat-unfriendly environment that respects the needs of both your garden and the feline visitors in your neighborhood. With a combination of patience, persistence, and the right tools, you can enjoy a clean, cat-free yard that complements your outdoor space beautifully.

Scents Cats Hate

To deter cats from pooping in your yard, consider using natural repellents like citrus peels, coffee grounds, lavender oil, or cayenne pepper. Cats dislike the scent of citrus, so scattering orange or lemon peels throughout your yard can be effective. You can also create a citrus essential oil spray by mixing water with approximately fifteen drops of citrus essential oil in a spray bottle. Apply this mixture all over your yard, not just in areas with cat waste.

Another option is to spread tobacco, which cats find unpleasant, particularly in gardens. Additionally, a solution of half water and half vinegar, when sprayed lightly across your yard, can help keep cats away. Enzymatic products can thoroughly clean your yard, removing any enticing scents or pheromones that may attract cats.

Crushed red pepper is another natural deterrent, but be sure to reapply after rain. Planting rue, although toxic to cats, is effective at deterring them without being consumed. Lion dung, available online, creates the illusion of a large predator in the area, deterring cats.

Commercial outdoor repellents from gardening centers are also available. They come in both spray and granule forms, suitable for different-sized areas. Pellets are effective for small areas but require more frequent reapplication.

Organic granular and powder repellents, mimicking predator urine scents, are safe for pets and children. Certain plants like lavender, garlic, geranium, and lemon verbena naturally repel cats. Planting them along fences, porches, and decks can create a cat-resistant barrier.

Surrounding trees with wood chips at their base discourages cats from using them as a litter spot. For a strong deterrent, consider planting Coleus Canina, but be aware that it emits a potent odor. Finally, using ammonia-filled containers buried partially in the ground can effectively mimic the scent of animal urine, deterring cats from your yard. Be sure to replenish the containers as the ammonia levels decrease.

Contact the Authorities or the Owners

Familiarize yourself with the leash laws in your county or city, as they are typically in place. This grants you the necessary authority to contact the relevant authorities, such as animal control, who will then come to collect the cat.

Check if the cat is wearing a collar. Often, collars bear a tag with the owner’s or veterinarian’s phone number, providing a means of contact.

In the absence of a collar, observe where the cat goes after leaving your yard. If it doesn’t seem to have a home, it’s likely a stray. In this case, reach out to the appropriate authorities.

Engage in a conversation with the owner regarding the cat’s waste. Many individuals will be cooperative and take steps to address the issue. If the owner proves uncooperative, remind them of the leash law and, as a last resort, contact animal control.

Request that animal control deploy traps in your yard. Once captured, the cat will be taken to an animal shelter. If the owner doesn’t claim the cat, it will be made available for adoption.

If you ascertain that the cat belongs to one of your neighbors, consult with other neighbors to see if they’re experiencing the same problem. Approaching the owner collectively may have a more substantial impact than doing so individually.

Home-Made Recipes to Keep Stray Cats Away

Discover a diverse array of homemade cat repellents online, but be sure to consult reviews for efficacy. Here are three highly effective recipes:

3 of the Most Effective Recipes

  • Combine two cups of water, two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, one cup of assorted citrus peels, and three drops of lemon-scented dishwashing liquid.
  • Mix three-quarters of a cup of water with twenty drops of citronella oil.
  • Blend one teaspoon each of cinnamon, dry mustard, black pepper, four drops of citrus essential oil, one crushed garlic clove, and two cups of water.

Implement these strategies to deter cats:

  • Plant prickly bushes in areas frequented by cats, as they dislike thorny textures.
  • Apply a layer of large mulch pieces in your garden to discourage cats, who dislike the texture and tend to use soil as a litter box.
  • Attach outward-slanting chicken wire to the top of your fence to hinder cats from crossing over.
  • Consider cat-proof fencing if budget allows, providing a comprehensive barrier.
  • Install a roll bar atop your fence to spin cats attempting to jump over it, deterring them from reentry.
  • In specific problem areas, lay a carpet runner upside-down, lightly sprinkling soil on top to create an unpleasant surface for cats.
  • Safeguard plants by covering surrounding soil with rocks or pinecones.
  • Set up water or ultrasonic motion detectors that activate when cats enter your yard, deterring them with water spray or inaudible sound.
  • Install a motion-activated sprinkler system to startle and repel cats with water, discouraging repeat visits.
  • Place spiked mats around targeted plants to dissuade cats with an uncomfortable surface.
  • Having a dog on your property can deter cats due to their aversion to canine presence and barking.
  • Invest in an ultrasonic, automated scarecrow emitting a frequency only audible to cats, deterring them effectively.
  • Opt for an infra-red sprinkler system triggered by heat, which sprays water at detected cat heat signatures.
  • Purchase a stand shaped like an animal with luminous eyes to ward off cats, especially those with light-reflecting or solar-powered eyes.

Prepare a litter box far away from your yard

If you have surplus yard space, consider situating a designated litter box outdoors. To minimize expenses, establish a sandy area removed from your main yard. This space could be located behind your house or near a drain for convenient waste disposal and cleanup. To entice cats to use this area, introducing catnip can be effective.

By providing an alternative spot for them to relieve themselves, you can potentially deter them from soiling other parts of your yard, helping to maintain a cleaner and more pleasant outdoor environment. This approach not only offers practicality but also takes into account the natural instincts of cats, making it a considerate solution for both you and the feline visitors in your vicinity.

Protect Your Yard from Cats: Consider these First

To deter cats from entering your yard, consider the following steps:

  • Minimize food odors by feeding your pets indoors and ensuring tightly closed trash can lids to discourage scavenging.
  • Place bird feeders out of the cat’s reach, high off the ground. Hose down areas with cat feces to eliminate territorial scent markings.
  • Remove boxes and clutter from your yard, as they can attract mice which, in turn, may draw cats.
  • Create a deterrent noise by filling an empty can with gravel or dried beans, sealing it shut with strong tape, and shaking it when you spot the cat. Consistency in using this method will discourage the cat from returning.
  • Use a gentle spray from a hose to discourage cats from entering your yard. Most cats dislike water and will avoid areas where they might get wet.
  • If you have an unspayed or unneutered house cat, their scent may attract other cats. Consider spaying or neutering your indoor cat to reduce this attraction.
  • If the cat is approachable, gently pick them up and relocate them before they have a chance to defecate. Repeating this action several times may deter the cat from returning.
  • Cover openings in structures like garages, decks, patios, sheds, or beneath porches with boards to prevent cats from seeking shelter or nesting spots.

For a stronger deterrent, use a heavy-duty water sprayer to give the cat a light spray every time you see them in your yard. After a few repetitions, the cat will likely learn to stay away.

Creating a Small Cat-Friendly Area in Your Yard

Create a designated spot for cats in your yard to prevent them from defecating all over:

Begin by setting up a small pile of sand in your chosen area. To entice the cat, consider planting catnip or mint around the sand. Be aware that regular cleanup will be necessary with this method.

Since most cats enjoy basking in the sun, select a spot that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. Adding fine mulch to this area can further attract them.

Additionally, consider planting wheat berries, oat grass, lemongrass, flax, or barley grass to make this designated area even more appealing to cats. Providing a dedicated space may encourage them to use it consistently, keeping the rest of your yard clean.

Why do cats choose my yard to poop in?

Cats are territorial animals and may find your yard inviting. Loose soil and mulch can resemble a litter box, making it an appealing spot.

Are there health risks associated with cat feces in my yard?

Yes, cat feces can carry parasites and pathogens that may pose health risks to humans, especially pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Do commercial cat repellents work effectively?

Yes, many commercial cat repellents can be effective. Look for ones with natural ingredients like citrus or garlic, which cats often find unpleasant.

What natural plants or scents can deter cats?

Plants like rue, rosemary, and lavender, as well as scents like citrus, peppermint, and vinegar, are known to be unpleasant to cats and can deter them.

How can I create physical barriers to keep cats out?

Installing fences or using mesh or netting can be effective barriers. Make sure they are tall enough and difficult for cats to climb.

Is it safe to use motion-activated deterrents?

Yes, motion-activated devices that emit water sprays or high-pitched sounds can startle cats without causing harm.

Should I use mothballs to deter cats?

No, mothballs contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to cats, other animals, and the environment. It’s best to avoid using them.

How long does it typically take to see results from deterrent methods?

The effectiveness of deterrent methods can vary. Some cats may be deterred quickly, while others may take longer to change their behavior. Consistency and patience are key.


Maintaining a cat-free yard requires a thoughtful combination of strategies and a patient approach. Understanding the reasons why cats are drawn to your yard is the first step in implementing effective deterrents. Whether it’s the inviting texture of the soil or the perception of a comfortable territory, addressing these factors is crucial.

Natural deterrents like specific plants and scents, along with commercially available repellents, can be powerful tools in discouraging cats from using your yard as their litter box. Additionally, physical barriers and technology-driven solutions offer further options for creating an environment that cats find unwelcoming.

It’s important to prioritize humane methods that do not harm the cats or the environment. Avoiding toxic substances like mothballs and opting for eco-friendly alternatives ensures the well-being of all parties involved.

Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

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