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Home & garden.

Updated: 17 Dec 2021

Cat repellents compared

If cats have become a nuisance in your garden, find out the best ways to encourage them to go somewhere else.
W
Which?Editorial team
Cat on fence 443428

Cats are adored pets, but they can become a nuisance if they leave their mess in your garden, keep you awake with fighting or scare off the wildlife.

More than 6,000 Which? members completed a survey which revealed that 55% have problems with cats in their garden. Three quarters reported soiling as their main problem, and more than 4 in 10 reported cats scaring off, attacking or killing garden wildlife, with birds being the main victims. 

Our members also reported that cats dug up or squashed their plants and were noisy, yowling or fighting with other cats.

They gave their opinions on how effective common deterrents are including ultrasonic cat deterrents, citrus peel, water pistols and chilli powder.

If you're a Which? member, you can log in now to find out which of the products and techniques in the table below have proved effective for our members when trying to encourage cats to go elsewhere. If you're not yet a member, you can get instant access by joining Which? today.

Our members' top cat repellents

TypeNo of members triedMember commentsMember score
33967%
21358%
36848%
38944%
17343%
10343%
9539%

This member survey was completed back in 2015 but these cat deterrents stand the test of time.

Want to attract birds into your garden? Here's our expert guides on gardening for wildlife

Are cats a problem in gardens?

The best data we have from a survey by the British Mammalian Society of dead prey brought home by cats, suggests that during the five months of the survey, 9 million British cats killed 57.4 million mammals, 27.1 million birds and 4.8 million reptiles and amphibians.

Wildlife behaviour is altered by the mere presence of predators; in other words, that fear of predation is a problem in itself, and that this can reduce wildlife populations even in the absence of actual mortality so the presence of cats among other predators may mean that wildlife doesn't feel safe in your garden and so will steer clear.

All cats are legally protected from harm by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and their Scottish and Northern Irish equivalents. Dealing with neighbourhood cats comes down to a combination of humane deterrents and tolerance.

What can cat owners do to help wildlife?

  • Fit a bell or electronic alarm to your cat’s collar; both have been shown to reduce predation. 
  • Keeping your cat indoors more of the time reduces the number of animals killed, although a lot depends on when you do this.
  • Keeping your cat in at night tends to protect nocturnal mammals, while fewer birds are killed if your cat is kept in during the day

Read our advice guides about gardening for wildlife