· Bright Ideas · Green Living Tips · Cat Repellant Spray! Keep Your Cat, Your Houseplants, and Your Sanity!

Cat Repellant Spray! Keep Your Cat, Your Houseplants, and Your Sanity!

Cat Repellant Spray

You know what’s great about having my daughter Britta and daughter-in-law Kaitlyn help out with posts for the blog? You get the benefit of post ideas that come from a whole different frame of reference! Case in point, today’s post. I don’t have a cat and, since my husband would rather jump off a tall building than get a cat, chances are I never will!  But BRITTA does…and because she does, today she is sharing with us a smart solution to a “cat problem” that I’m assuming she’s not alone in. Pretty cool huh? I think so.  :-)

Britta writes:  A couple of weeks ago, my friend Randi Lynn was kind enough to give me one of the many Spider Plants she had growing in her kitchen. I have wanted a houseplant for a while to keep in my office, so I was very excited to get it home! I decided that I would place it on my windowsill during the day, to make sure that it received as much light as possible.

Cat Repellant Spray

Enter my cat, Katara. I had forgotten to take into account that Katara enjoys sitting on that particular windowsill during the day, in order to watch the birds who live in the tree outside the window. Apparently she was offended by the arrival of the Spider Plant on HER windowsill, because she has been kicking soil out of the pot and onto the sill nearly every day since I brought it into the house. I suppose it could be worse, because she doesn’t appear to be eating the plant or destroying it in any way, just pushing dirt out. BUT STILL – it is very obnoxious!

(Side note from Jillee:  But look at that cute face!!)

Cat Repellant Spray

So I found myself faced with a conundrum. Do I give in to my cat’s bad behavior and accept that I can’t keep plants in the house, or do I resign myself to the fact that I will have to sweep dirt off my windowsill daily? Neither were very attractive options, so I decided I needed to come up with a third option: find a way to keep my cat away from my plant.

A bit of research yielded an intriguing idea: a spray made from essential oils that would repel my cat, but that would also be harmless to the plant itself. This sounded like the ideal solution, so I eagerly gave it a try!

In a 4 oz glass spray bottle, I added 2 drops each of Lemon, Sweet Orange, and Lavender essential oils, and then topped it off with enough water to fill the bottle. Cats are several times more sensitive to smells than humans, so they will tend to steer clear of particularly strong scents like citrus. Apparently they don’t like lavender either.

Other oils you could try that are supposed to repel cats include Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lime, and Lemongrass.

Note: Dr. Richard Palmquist, Chief of Integrative Health Services at Centinela Animal Hospital in Inglewood, California, advises that one drop of essential oil diluted in 50 drops carrier oil or water is safe for pets. The toxicity from this very small amount of diluted EO’s is far less harmful in the long run than the ingredients and artificial ‘fragrance’ in most products. However, never apply essential oils directly on a cat. 

Cat Repellant Spray

After shaking the bottle well, I sprayed the soil of the plant, trying to avoid the leaves as much as possible. I also sprayed the outside of the pot.

Since I wrote this post yesterday, I haven’t seen Katara anywhere near my plant, which is very encouraging! And as an ADDED BONUS….this spray smells great! It is a very bright and cheerful scent, which is perfect for a home office like mine. Who couldn’t use an extra bit of cheer at work??

Cat Repellant Spray

And let’s not forget the cheerful feeling I will get from knowing that my plant will continue to flourish on the windowsill, free from the torment of Katara’s incessant pawing. :-)

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • One of my cats had eaten the Hosta leaves. (Hostas are not poisonous. Deer love Hostas.) I didn’t bother to add the essential oils to the water. I just added a drop or two to the Hosta leaves and it killed the plant.

  • I have always been a cat owner. Years ago I found that the best way to keep cats away from things they destroy is with anything citrus. I also accidentally found that putting a drop of eucalyptus oil in your garbage cans or trash bags will keep away the pesky outdoor critters that love to make a mess of tour trash. Bonus is it makes your house smell nice. I have also started to spray some very diluted oil in my composte bin. There are so many uses for essential oils!.

  • Spider plants are VERY toxic to cats! They’re not exactly poisonous but they make the cat’s moith and throat swell up so much that they die. My very favorite cat if my life died from eating a few pieces of a spider plant leaf.

  • Most essential oils (99%) are toxic to pets..they cannot tell you when it hurts to breath because their lungs are irritated. Oils can cause seizures in animals. Hang the plant and get rid of essential oils. It is hard to do but that is exactly what I did when I read about the toxicity to pets.

  • The plant and cat can coexist at the window. Suspend the plant from the ceiling in a woven plant holder. The spider babies will drape beautifully.

  • My friendly furry feline likes to eat all of my houseplants. I mean, to the soil, so I was frustrated to say the least. I started adding a cottonball with a little peppermint essential oil in the pot sitting right on the soil and he has stayed away.

  • We have three scratching posts for our cats plus a large cat “tree” but they still would scratch our furniture.

    I used Vicks Vapor Rub to deter our cats. Apply on small strips of paper or cloth and attach to area where the cats scratch. You may want to use gloves to apply. I usually put on a small glob and smear.

    The cats never touched it, the scent is strong so they stayed away. It will diminish over time, reapply if needed. Be careful, can stain some materials. I never needed to reapply.

    I don’t think this idea would be good if you have small children in the household.

  • I too would be interested in a spray to keep the cat off the counter and tables. Have tried what the vet told me to do but that did not work.
    Mine is constantly jumping on to the counter. Would something that you could put in a cotton ball and hang on bottom of cupboards work? Please help.

  • Did NOT work for me. I was very disappointed, for I’ve been trying to keep my cats out of my plants for a long time, and the essential oils spray only seemed to pique their interest in the plants. Not happy with this post at all.

  • This post just made my day! I have a kitty who has an overfondness for plants… specifically the soil. I don’t know what it is, but my Ayden will not leave houseplants alone and I will come home to an entire pot of soil on the floor! I can’t wait to try this! Although, it is nice to know that Ayden’s not alone in his strange obsession…

  • PLEASE don’t let your cat eat spider plants! My friend’s cat wasn’t ill but wasn’t thriving. She was eating the “babies” that the spider plant puts out and they were slowly poisoning her. Now the “babies” are removed as soon as they appear and the plant is up too high for the cat to reach. Kitty is healthier and happier now.

  • Outside, ammonia and a few drops of dish soap sprayed around the edge of the lawn will work out side. Just a sponge with a bit of ammonia, wipe where they scratch.

  • Thanks for the suggestion Britta! I will have to give this a go, since every time my hubby brings home flowers, my cat ends up eating it and then is sick :(
    There just might be hope to have flowers again :)


  • Yay! I love plants! But one of my cats likes to lay in the plant, and the other one like to push it over. It does not matter where I set it, they have claimed every spot in the house! I Thanks Britta!

  • I wonder if it would work for spot where the cat “marks” their territory? Ii have 5 VERY territorial cats so I’m constinally cleaning specific s areas of my home!

  • I have 3 cats and a ton of house plants. I have learned that cats will kick off soil only if the soil in the pot is not covered with leaves. If there is a lot of exposed soil, I place rocks. However, my biggest problem is my cats eating the plant itself. I have found that they will leave the plants alone if they have cat grass (not to confuse with catnip). You can grow you own cat grass easily, I buy my seeds at the pet store but it’s actually just oats.

  • I’m guess I’m an OPINIONATED CAT OWNER, but in my defense, I know lots of OPINIONATED DOG OWNERS as well and I don’t hold it against them. Let’s try to keep everything in perspective and not jump down anyone’s throat……………..That being said, I appreciate all the positive imput……….

  • Essential oils are TOXIC to cats. Not necessarily at first, but they build up in the cat’s system over time, as cats’ livers lack the enzyme necessary to break eo’s down.
    I apologize for sounding aggressive, but I would hate for someone to use this and wind up hurting their pet.
    From what I am told, hydrosols are a safe alternative to essential oils, although I don’t know how their use would alter the effectiveness of the above recipe.
    Always check with your vet before trying a new homemade or holistic recipe – they will tell you, without a doubt, whether or not it is safe.

  • What about a cat who EATS my houseplants? I have a lot around the house, but slowly but surely my cat is destroying them one-by-one. Some of them are (were) a decade or more old. :(

  • Good info. When I had my cat, she was pretty good about leaving
    The plants alone. As far as scratching the furniture I had to
    Have miss kitty declared. The cat in the picture looks like a
    Silver tabby. That’s what my last kitty was.Very pretty cats.

  • Good to know. My daughter just brought home a plant and I’m guessing her cat won’t leave it alone. I’ll share this with her in case she needs it.

  • Just some info about animals and EO’s. EO’s are not all harmful to animals. Check out the site http://www.oilyVet.com. Melissa Shelton, DVM started her own research and practice treating animals with EO’s. She’s done major research. She has also written a book about it. Also, search AnimalEO online. She has a newsletter with interesting info. The kind and quality of EO is very important.

  • Jillee and Britta,

    Thanks for the great post!! My cat doesn’t seem to disturb my houseplant dirt, but she also goes outside a lot, so may not feel the need.

    Andrea in Iowa…I’m curious as to what EOs the vet recommended for your cat’s flea/tick problem? We are struggling with that here.

    Sherri, as far as keeping cats off of your counters, you could place tin foil down where they normally jump up. Most cats hate it and after jumping up and landing on that a few times, they may be scared to do so in the future!

    Thanks again for all your helpful posts!:)

    • Duct tape or packing tape sticky side up. Leave a couple of strips on the counter or table tops where kitty jumps up for a nasty surprise. This WILL cure her after 2-4 times. I know from personal experience keeping mine off my bedside stand :)

    • I have done this and my cat sits there and chews the tinfoil did not work for her and she is forever scratching my furniture I have no clue as to how to keep her from doing that any suggestions?

    • I have 2 cats and have trained them to stay off the counter and dining table using a product made by PetSafe called Ssscat. It is a can of air that goes off when motion happens. Several times, I have gotten sprayed myself, but its just air, and it did work!

  • To Tammy: what else is a comment section for if not to provide ones own experience? I learn so much that way. So I will weigh in with one. I agree that cats rule people, not the other way around. Be careful if you hang a spider plant and put it well out of jumping distance. It will get long pieces that dangle way down and have baby plants on them; jumping for these could be a great game for
    most cats.

  • Any suggestions on what to use to keep cats out of my garden boxes outside? I’m so sick and tired of finding cat poop in my garden boxes. One particular neighborhood cat thinks my vegetable boxes are his personal litter box, and I am seriously going to lose my mind.

    Next step is to trap it and have it picked up by Animal Control, so any suggestions are appreciated.

  • That’s strange because my vet gave me a recipe for EO flea/tick spray that works pretty good….not a good as the uber expensive flea drops, but far less toxic.

    • Lavender is in a spray I bought to calm a cat but I don’t think she likes it.
      These oils on their thin skin will make them sick as I found out the hard way with tea tree oil. Their sense of smell is 14 times stronger then humans and inhaling can be toxic.
      “Bugs bug dogs and cats just like they do people. Furry haircoats help … Many natural preparations contain essential oils, and some of these oils are toxic to cats.”
      ” Safe Insect Repellents for Cats”
      “Cats are another story. They metabolize drugs and chemicals very differently from humans and dogs, and “safe” compounds for us may be quite toxic for cats. Plus, they are good groomers, which leads to possible ingestion as well as absorption through skin. ”
      “Toxicity in cats can occur very quickly, through internal or external application, or over a longer period of time, through repeated or continuous inhalation of essential oils, but either way, it can lead to serious liver damage or even death.”
      Essential Oils Potentially Toxic to Cats]
      This list is not all-inclusive: Peppermint, Lemon Oil, Lavender Oil, Melaleuca Oil,Tea Tree Oil


  • As a cat owner and someone who uses essential oils (on myself), I would not try this. Cats’ noses are very sensitive and some oils are actually toxic to cats (like tea tree). I would either move the plant elsewhere or put it in a hanging basket so she can’t reach it.

  • I’m wondering if it would work on my loveseat? I rescued a cat, and he’s so sweet, but he’s determined to sharpen his claws on my love seat, despite having 3 scratching posts ????

    • I have the same problem with my favorite chair. I have tried spraying it with ” Stop Scratch” and that only lasted until my cat got used to the smell. I hear that cats hate the smell of vinegar so my next attempt will be to try spraying it with vinegar.

  • Hmmmm…I’m interested in finding out out how to keep someone else’s cats out of my yard. My dog rolls in their poo and it’s so nasty. I wonder if spraying this in mass quantities along our fenceline would work? So Jillee if you come across a way to fix this, we’d be grateful!! Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas!!

    • One thing that keeps cats from my garden is marigolds. By planting a border of them around the garden I have been to shut down the neighborhood litter box. I am told that the marigolds also keep insects out of the garden (that remains to be seen).

    • I heard putting moth balls along your property line will keep unwanted critters away. Might be worth a try. If they’re outside and decide to eat something on your property, I guess thats just too bad. I’m a cat lover and cat owner but I’m a responsible owner and keep my cat indoors away from harm. Other people’s pets that roam can be truly bothersome and a downright nuisance (as I listen to the incessant barking of the dog next door…)

  • Cat people sure are opinionated! If you do not agree with the information given then choose to disregard it but don’t be so quick to give your input. What is wrong with giving your opinion when asked what your opinion is?

  • I have been diffusing citrus oils into the air in my home for years and my cats are just fine with it. I’ve even seen one of them jump up to investigate the diffuser while it’s going. She’s completely healthy. I’ve had cats young and old, tiny teacup dogs, a cockatoo, and a Quaker parrot all do just fine with my oils. I agree that one should probably avoid putting them directly onto the animal, but Britta is not doing that! She’s simply reclaiming part of her house as her own…and she has every right to. You do things your way, and she can do things hers. Reclaiming the windowsill is not animal abuse, lol.

    Thanks for the tips! I have a spider plant that the cats have been eating every chance they get lately. I’m going to try the oils. I’m also going to try out some oils on my couch that has recently been the object to destroy in my living room. I hadn’t thought of using the oils for such things, but I use them for everything else, so THANKS!

  • Cats “see” dirt in houseplants the same as dirt outside which means they will dig. They also like to chew on the long leaves on the spider plant which is supposed to be poisonous to cats but have never seemed to harm mine.

    You could always hang the plant from the ceiling as spider plants love that full “airy” aura around them. Just make sure that a butterfly hook is used to hold the weight properly. There are also water bottles that can be purchased with long spouts to make watering them easier.

    Good luck with it and with your cat. She is very pretty, but then, she looks similar to my female, “Missy”.

  • I agree with Carol Jane -the cat claimed that windowsill, long before the plant.

    Try hanging the plant . And some essential oils can make cats sick, so I would just move the plant.

    Think about how you would feel if your favorite reading or tv chair were suddenly taken over, and smelled funny too!

    • I am sure that the CAT and the PLANT can be happy companions and share the same space. I use EO’s EVERY SINGLE DAY in my house with my two cats and two dogs and they have lived long healthy lives. As long as the animal can walk away if they want to they are just fine. Thanks Britta for the great post.

    • Agreement with Carol Jane, Janet, and the cat! Irregardless of the effects of EO, the cat’s well-being is being diminished, especially if she is left alone indoors all day. And a bored cat will find other ways of amusing herself, ways that might be more annoying than a little dirt getting moved around.

      Just hang the darn plant, I say!

  • Peppermint, NOT! Peppermint is in the same family as catnip, and every cat I’ve ever known loves it just about as much! Oranges seems to be pretty effective though, one thing you can try other than going out and buying essential oils is simply sticking a piece of orange peel on a toothpick wherever you don’t want kitty, like in the plant.

    • Hi Meg,
      My cat loves peppermint. In fact, I often find packs of gum that have kitty teeth marks because he likes to “chew” it. I have found that orange and lemon to be quite effective though!

      • Not too sure about cats, but chewing gum will kill a dog. The ingredient xylitol is very hazardous to them!

  • Is there a spray that you can spray on furniture to stop the scratching? or on countertops to stop them from jumping on the counter as soon as you turn your back?

  • great idea and i can’t wait to try it.Katara is so cute and looks like a mainecoon cat they can get very large as in 10 to 15 pounds.Gentle giants but as the cat gets bigger so can the mess.You are a good mom to take control now and not always let her have her way.

  • Ha! I wouldn’t even dream about putting a plant on my cats favorite windowsill! She’s the queen & besides, she likes to eat spider plants. Yup, right down to nubs. She also enjoys EO’s. I keep one in my bedroom & she just sprawls all over the bed totally relaxed. Love my kitty!

  • I wonder if it would work for spot where the cat “marks” their territory? Ii have 5 VERY territorial cats so I’m constinally cleaning specific s areas of my home!

      • Actually, essential oils damage cats’ kidneys. I confirmed it with my vet (a feline specialist), although she had to dig to find the info. EO’s might not be instantly toxic but they will hurt your cats. They shouldn’t be used on your cats or in enclosed spaces around cats.

        On the other hand, chewing on spider plants is non-toxic to kitties and doesn’t really hurt the plant. I’ve found that my indoor guys ignore cat grass but will chew on a spider plant leaf when they need help with hairballs.

        When my cats were kittens and started digging in my plant pots, I placed tin foil over the soil. That did the trick.

    • You’re not being overprotective: EO’s cause kidney damage in cats. Best to avoid them altogether but certainly don’t use them on your cat or in small/enclosed spaces around your kitty.

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