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 sense a large part of their world through smell (which perhaps explains why they go about sticking their nose into everyone’s stuff!). Cats use their highly developed sensory organ to recognize other animals, 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 next, 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.

I think it’s therefore safe to say that placing sticks of cinnamon around your garden is not a very humane 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. Cinnamon is not an option. So.. what to do? Thankfully, there is no need to start throwing things at a poor kitty or spraying water in its face. 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. Other strong scents

While cinnamon might not be the safest option, anything with a strong smell is potentially off-putting to cats. A number of foods and plants are particularly effective, so you may as well use these to your advantage by spreading a few of them around your garden to keep the cats away. Vets usually recommend ground coffee beans, because they are just as effective as cinnamon but less likely to be ingested. 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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