essential oils to stop cats from pooping

7 Essential Oils To Deter Cats From Pooping

Cats have a strong sense of smell which means the scent of certain essential oils, in particular citrus-based or mint-based ones, is overpowering to them.

One of the best essential oils to use is citronella oil as it is non-toxic and has a citrus scent that cats tend to avoid. 

Essential oils work well as an effective home remedy deterrent if you mix them with water to make them into convenient sprays or by applying them with a cloth to the relevant areas.

For essential oils to be an effective deterrent they should be reapplied to the area on a regular basis. 

1. Citrus Oil

Citrus oil is a very effective essential oil as cats do not like the citrusy smell at all. 

It doesn’t matter which citrus oil is used, cats seem to detest all of them.

Whether you use lemon, orange, or lime, the smell that is refreshing to us is actually bitter and overwhelming to cats so they prefer to stay away. 

While citrus oil is one of the more effective options, it’s important to be careful when using it as it can be toxic to cats. 

2. Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is another citrus-type of smell that cats don’t like.

Cats will typically avoid areas with citronella due to the overpowering nature of the smell. 

This oil is made from lemongrass and produces a scent that is similar to lemon citrus oil. Citronella is a good choice as a cat deterrent as it is non-toxic but very effective. 

Citronella oil has multiple uses as it is also good for repelling insects. 

3. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus has more of a mint/ menthol smell than a citrus smell.

For humans, eucalyptus is already quite a strong, pungent smell so it is no surprise that it is overbearing for the sensitive nose of a cat too. 

If an area smells strongly of eucalyptus oil then a cat will generally avoid the area completely. The good thing about eucalyptus oil is that a small amount goes a long way. 

Take care if using eucalyptus oil as it can result in health issues in cats. 

4. Mint Oil

As with Eucalyptus, mint oil is another overwhelmingly strong essential oil that cats hate to be around.

Interestingly, some cats are actually attracted to mint because it shares nepetalactone-mimicking chemicals that are also found in catnip.

With that said, mint oil does seem to be hated by most cats but it is important to use it with care as it can be toxic to cats. 

5. Lavender Oil

The majority of cats do not like the smell of lavender, particularly the concentrated smell of lavender oil. This is a natural repellent as cats are often put off by the strong smell. 

However, there are some cats that seem to enjoy the smell, so this is not as effective as some of the other essential oils on this list.

Lavender essential oil is also toxic to cats if inhaled or ingested so care must be taken if using this.    

6. Peppermint Oil

Most cats don’t like the smell of peppermint, this is mostly because peppermint contains salicylate which is toxic to cats. 

As cats are sensitive to peppermint oil they will generally stay away from it. It’s important cats do not ingest peppermint oil so it should be used carefully. 

7. Lemongrass Oil

The citrus smell of lemongrass oil is another option that repels cats. Most cats tend to move away from the smell of the essential oil. 

However, some cats do like the smell of the actual plant so this oil gets mixed results as a deterrent. 

How To Use Essential Oils To Deter Cats From Pooping

Essential oils are a great option for deterring cats as there are certain scents that are almost universally disliked by cats.

cat on grass

Using one of these essential oils will help to keep cats out of areas you don’t want them to be in. 

Of course, different cats react differently to certain smells so choosing the most effective essential oil may involve some trial and error. 

The best way to apply the essential oil will vary based on the area it is being used. There are two key methods that can be used in most situations:

Method 1: Spray 

The first method is the spray bottle.

Simply put a few drops of the essential oil with 3x the amount of water in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Once mixed, the solution is ready to use. 


Spray the essential oil mixture in the area the cat is pooping or around the entrance/ exit route or other hotspots in the garden.

The spray will need to be reapplied regularly to keep the smell strong and keep cats away. 

Do not spray the essential oil spray when the cat is nearby as there is a risk of the mixture going onto the cat or being inhaled by the cat. Both of which could cause health issues. 

Method 2: Apply With A Cloth

The second method is a great way of applying neat essential oil to areas. Rather than putting drops of the oil around the place, put a few drops onto a cloth and wipe this over the required areas. 

The cloth can be wiped over key areas of the fence, on plant pots, on furniture, etc. Wherever the cats seem to be going to the toilet.

The essential oil will give off a strong smell which will result in cats avoiding these areas. 

How To Deter Cats From Pooping In Your Garden With Essential Oils

While essential oils and odour repellents are not the most effective deterrent method for outside use they do offer a cost-effective, natural solution.

The best way to use essential oils is to mix one part essential oil with three parts water and spray this in the areas you want to deter the cats. 

discourage cats from pooping in your garden

Thanks to the strong smell of essential oils, a gentle spray should be enough to deter cats from the area. 

The downside to using this technique is that the spray can be washed away by the rain and it doesn’t last a particularly long time.

This means it is necessary to apply the spray regularly to maintain its efficiency.   

How To Deter Cats From Pooping In Your House With Essential Oils

If you are going to be using the essential oil deterrent inside the house, the best method will depend on the area the cat is pooping.

If the issue is in a small space then applying an essential oil to nearby furniture/walls or kitchen counter using a cloth is the best technique.

If you want to deter the cat from a larger area then a spray is a good choice.

An essential oil diffuser could be used to deter cats from a certain room but a targeted approach with a cloth or spray seems to be most effective. 

Deter Cats Using Essential Oil On A Cloth

An easy way to use essential oils to stop cats from pooping in the house is to put a few drops of the chosen essential oil onto a cloth and wipe this in the areas the cat usually poops.

In order for this technique to be effective the oil should be applied regularly as the scent will fade away over time. 

Make sure there is an accessible litter box or cat flat (access to outside) outside of this area so the cat has somewhere to go and do their business when they have been deterred away from their usual spot. 

Deter Cats Using An Essential Oil Spray 

If there is a certain spot the cat is using as a toilet you could create an essential oil spray and use this to not only deter the cat from the area but also help neutralize the smell. 

cat spray

By neutralizing the smell, it will help stop cats from tracing their own smell back to the same spot. If the smell is no longer there (and is covered with an unpleasant essential oil) then the cat will find another area to use. 

The spray is easy to apply and is a good choice for deterring cats from larger areas.

Only apply the spray when the cat is far away as you don’t want the spray to go onto the cat’s fur or for the cat to inhale the mixture.  

Do Essential Oils Work On All Cats?

No, while they are usually effective, essential oils are not a guaranteed solution.

Most of the essential oils we have discussed will deter cats because of their strong and overpowering scents but not all cats will react the same. 

Each cat has their own likes and dislikes.

cat sniffing an oil diffuser

A scent that one cat may hate might be tolerated, or even liked, by another.

Different essential oils can also result in different reactions depending on the individual cat so if one scent isn’t as effective as you’d hoped, another one may be better suited.  

In general, the majority of cats find that essential oils are unpleasant and overpowering but it may be a case of trying a few different options to find the one that works best. 

Be Careful When Using Essential Oils As A Cat Deterrent

Essential oils are a great natural deterrent to use as long as they are used safely.

There is a risk when using essential oils as some can be toxic to cats and the way the oil is used could lead to sickness, skin irritations, and poisoning.

While the risk is far lower than it is from using products like Jeyes fluid as a deterrent, care should still be taken.

cat sat on garden drive

Due to the highly concentrated nature of essential oils, they should never be applied directly to a cat’s skin and should never be ingested or inhaled by cats.

The heavily concentrated phenols, ketones and monoterpenes cannot be broken down by cats as they are deficient in glucuronyl transferase, the enzyme responsible for metabolizing phenols. 

There are a few important rules to follow when using essential oils around cats: 

  • Never spray or apply essential oil to the cat’s skin or fur
  • Never leave essential oil out where the cat could reach or ingest it
  • Make sure you only diffuse essential oils in well ventilated rooms
  • Make sure the cat can come and go as they please from areas where essential oils are used 
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling essential oils

When using essential oils, keep a close eye on the cats for signs of poisoning.

Symptoms include vomiting, excessive drooling, lethargy, difficulty breathing, tremors, and seizures. If a cat is exhibiting these symptoms then you should contact the vet immediately. 

It is worth taking the bottle of essential oil with you to the vet as the concentration and ingredients may be able to help the vet decide on the best course of treatment. 

If you are interested in using essential oils in your home, use our safe essential oils for cats guide to help you determine which ones are best to diffuse inside your home. 


Essential oils are a good cat repellent but it is important to always be careful with what essential oil you use and how you use it.

Many essential oils have a scent that is overpowering to a cat’s sensitive nose.

When using essential oils make sure they are never inhaled, ingested, or come into direct contact with the cat. 

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