Do Coffee Grounds Repel Cats?

Yes, the pungent smell of coffee grounds make them a great cat repellent.

As used coffee grounds are easy to obtain, biodegradable and free from chemicals they are an ideal cat repellent for use in outdoor areas and flower beds. 

cat and coffee grounds

Coffee grounds are particularly popular with gardeners as they are rich in nutrients so can help to enrich your plants and, as well as keeping cats away, they can keep snails away too.

When using coffee to repel cats you’ll want to put grounds down regularly to ensure the smell remains strong and continues to be effective over time. 

Cats Hate The Smell Of Coffee Grounds

The main reason coffee grounds work to repel cats is their strong smell.

Coffee is a smell many of us love but it is something the majority of cats will turn their noses up at. 

Do All Cats Hate The Smell Of Coffee Grounds?

Most cats hate the smell of coffee.

cat sniffing coffee

As every cat is different and their reaction to various smells will not always be the same, not all cats are going to hate the smell of coffee.

With that said, coffee is a well-known deterrent that has been tried many times and is usually effective. 

Coffee has a strong smell and one of the possible reasons cats don’t like the smell is because caffeine is toxic to cats and will make them sick if they eat it.

However, some cats may be a little less bothered by the smell but it should still be enough to keep them away. 

If you’re not having much luck using coffee grounds, check out the alternative deterrents listed at the bottom of this article.

No repellent is going to be 100% effective as cats are regularly exposed to different sights and smells and will become desensitised to them over time but coffee is definitely worth a try. 

Is Coffee Harmful To Cats?

Yes, coffee is harmful to cats if they ingest it.

While cats are very sensitive to the smell of coffee it does not harm them in any way. 

cat with coffee

Coffee is only harmful when a cat ingests the coffee, coffee bean, or coffee grounds so it’s important to take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen.

When you first sprinkle coffee grounds down don’t use too much coffee and keep an eye on your cat to ensure they do not ingest any of it.

The issue with coffee is the caffeine content and coffee grounds tend to be high in caffeine so there is a risk of caffeine poisoning if eaten.

If a cat consumes caffeine they can suffer an extreme reaction which can include restlessness, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, and seizures. 

Fortunately, cats will usually avoid coffee and if you spread the grounds out and mix them slightly with the ground substrate rather than leaving them in a pile it makes it much harder for cats to eat any. 

How to Use Coffee Grounds to Deter Cats

  1. Save your used coffee grounds, or pop to the local coffee shop and ask for a free bag of their used coffee grounds. Used coffee grounds will usually go in the bin so coffee shops have no problem giving them away for use in the garden. 
  1. Sprinkle the used coffee grounds around the area you want to deter the cats. A thin layer is all that is needed. The coffee ground method is most often used on flower beds and around plants. Make sure the coffee is spread out so you have a thin layer covering the area. 
putting coffee grounds in the garden
  1. Reapply a thin layer of coffee grounds on a weekly basis to keep the smell fresh and the cats away. 

Coffee grounds are particularly good for using in the garden as they will keep the cats away without negatively impacting the plants.

Some gardeners say coffee grounds help keep slugs and snails away so that is an added bonus too. 

Alternative Cat Deterrent Methods

If the coffee grounds aren’t having the desired effect, or you’re worried about the potential toxicity of the caffeine, then try one of these alternative methods instead:

  • Plant Lavender or Rosemary

If the issue is in the garden you could try positioning plants that cats are known to dislike around the key areas. Both lavender and rosemary have a strong smell that cats tend to stay away from. 

  • Use Lion Manure 

If you want a deterrent that is similar to coffee grounds, try lion manure. The manure has a strong smell and the idea is that cats are territorial so if they think there is a larger predator in the area they will stay away.

It’s an interesting, low-cost option that is worth a try. 

  • Install Spikes

You can stop cats from coming into your garden by installing spikes on the top of your fence and gates.

The spikes make it uncomfortable for cats to climb over so they will stop trying to come into your property. 

cat climbing over fence

Some of the best cat repellent methods use motion detection and either spray water or make a sound to scare the cat away.

These are the most effective options as you can set them up where they are needed and the deterrent will do the rest.

You will need to check the batteries every so often but you don’t have to keep going back as you do with most other deterrents (for example to top up the coffee or other strong-smelling granules). 

One of the potential downsides to using a water sprayer is that you might activate it when you walk past it.

Luckily the ultrasonic repellers won’t cause any issues as they emit a sound that is too high-frequency for humans to hear.  

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