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Using vinegar to deter cats

I've got too many cats around my garden — and they're not mine! I'm finding them digging up seeds, seedlings, mucking up tilled ground, etc. Now I've heard that cats don't like the smell of vinegar. Could I spray some around my garden without the acidity doing even more damage?


This is a perennial problem for many gardeners. Household vinegar used at full strength in a squirt bottle around the area the cats scratch may keep them at bay — repeat after rain.

Other things to try — moth balls or napthalene sprinkled around the area. If you see the cats and are a good shot, one of those heavy duty water pistols that children play with will chase them away; they may get the message eventually. Citronella oil sprayed around the area.

There are numerous products available from hardware stores and garden centres to deter cats — we have tried a Watkins one called 'Wotchout' cat repellant. It is a mix of sawdust and camphor oil and is effective for up to one month in normal weather conditions. At this stage it seems to be working.

Place small light twigs over the newly planted seedlings or bird netting. If all else fails — get a cat!

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005