A cat with sticks of cinnamon

Does cinnamon keep cats away?

There are times when you don’t want any cats around. Whether your beautiful new yard is full of poop from the neighbor’s cat, or your delicious juicy homegrown vegetables are being ravaged by a naughty cat… there are definitely situations where you just need to keep those four-legged buggers out.

A quick Google search will give you plenty of natural cat repellents, but one, in particular, is often mentioned: cinnamon. I’ve seen multiple websites state that cinnamon is a safe and cheap natural cat repellent. But does it actually work? Will cinnamon keep unwanted feline visitors away? And is it safe?

It does work, but…

Unlike humans, cats experience an enormous part of the world through smell (which may explain why they go about the daily task of sticking their nose into everyone’s stuff). Jokes aside, they do need their nose for tons of things. To recognize other animals, for instance, but also to figure out where their territory is, and to sniff out potentially dangerous objects and substances. Pretty important!

If you’ve ever sniffed a stick of cinnamon, you probably know how potent the smell is. This is the main reason why cats are not particularly drawn to cinnamon sticks; the scent of cinnamon is simply extremely overpowering to such a sensitive nose.

Knowing this, you might be tempted to use cinnamon to keep cats away from certain areas. But as we will see in the next paragraph, this is not a very animal-friendly solution.

Can cats eat cinnamon?

While cinnamon is not officially a toxic substance to cats, it can still have pretty harmful side effects when consumed in larger doses. Upon ingestion, strong spices can cause a lot of irritation to the bowels. Making matters worse, it can even trigger allergies just from skin contact, particularly in extra-sensitive cats.

So, I think it’s safe to say that laying sticks of cinnamon around your garden is not a very animal-friendly approach. You may even upset the neighbor when they find their cat in pain! Luckily, there are better repellents available.

Alternatives

We love cats. We also like our garden poop-free. So, what to do? No need to start throwing things, or spraying water on a poor kitty. Consider these animal-friendly (and possibly more effective!) alternatives for keeping cats away:

The peel of citrus fruits is not very appealing to cats
Citrus peels are not very appealing to cats, and can be used as a repellant

1. Strong scents

While cinnamon might not be the safest option, anything with a strong smell is potentially off-putting to cats. You can use this to your advantage by throwing these things around your garden to keep cats away. Vets usually recommend ground coffee beans, because they are just as effective as cinnamon, but cats are less likely to eat them. You may also try some of the following:

  • Garlic
  • Citrus fruit peels (lime, orange, lemons)
  • Pepper
  • Strong plants like eucalyptus

There is one major downside to this approach, however, and that is that rain will wash these scents away. So you’ll have to keep sprinkling!

2. Ground Covers

Covering your yard with plants and wood chips will prevent cats from digging and burying their feces in the soil

Cats bury their feces in the ground. So to make their business more difficult, simply cover the place up! If you have a green thumb, planting some dense flowers is the way to go. Wood chips and bark are also very effective at providing a tough layer that can’t easily be breached. The harder it is to dig, the more likely it is that the neighborhood ravager will stay away.

3. Motion detectors

Another interesting option is to install motion detectors in your yard. These devices send out a high-pitched sound whenever a trespasser walks by. A major advantage of these nifty devices is that they also work against other garden-ravaging bandits like dogs and rodents. We found this one to be the best for keeping cats out.

4. Other critters

While cinnamon and other deterrents might work to keep cats away, there are other additional steps you can take. Any type of live prey will attract stalking cats. By clearing away any clutter and blocking off holes, you reduce the chance of mice and rodents visiting your garden.

5. Place a fence

The most drastic and time-consuming approach, but perhaps also the most effective: Place wire-mesh fencing around your yard. If you go one step further and add an overhang as well, you can be absolutely sure that your garden will remain free of cats.

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