How To Keep Cats Off Your Car: 20 Tried & Tested Methods That Actually Work

Paw prints are the first sign a cat has been on your car but the real problem is the scratches that often accompany them.

It’s not only annoying and frustrating to see your car has been used as a cat’s hang-out spot but scratches in the paint can lead to water damage and rust.

how to keep cats off your car

There are a number of deterrents that can be used to keep cats off your car.

As every cat has a different reaction to each deterrent we have come up with a comprehensive list of deterrents that you can try, starting with the most effective.

Start at the top of the list and work your way down until you find a method that works for you.  

1. Put Your Car In The Garage

It may be obvious but parking your car in the garage is by far the best solution.

a red car in a garage with two cats approaching it

If you have a garage and there is space in there for your car, this will solve your problem instantly without having to worry about using repellents. 

If your cat has access to the garage and you don’t want to limit their access then consider covering your car to protect the paint from scratches.  

2. Use Motion Controlled Sprinklers

Motion-activated sprinklers will effectively deter cats as most cat breeds (with a few exceptions) hate being splashed or squirted with water.

In addition to the water, sprinklers often make a loud clicking noise when they turn on which will help scare the cats away too. 

a sprinkler system

One thing to consider when using sprinklers is that there’s a good chance your car is going to get wet.

However, you can try to strategically position the sprinklers in a way that doesn’t get your car wet.

Just don’t forget to turn the motion activation off before you go outside.

3. Activate The Car Alarm

If you can see your car from your home and you see a cat on or near your car, use the keys to set off the alarm.

The alarm will startle the cat and send them on their way.

a hand activating a car alarm with the remote key

For this to keep cats away long-term, you’ll have to set the alarm off several times until the cat realises it wasn’t just a one-off and stays away. 

4. Use A Scat Mat

Scat mats are effective cat deterrents as they contain uncomfortable spikes that a cat won’t want to sit on.

This will not cause any harm to the cat but it will deter them effectively.

Scat mats will need to be positioned well as they only work if the cat stands on it.

When used properly, these mats can quickly teach cats not to come near your car. 

5. Use Mothballs

One of the cheapest ways to deter cats is to use mothballs.

The quickest and easiest way to use the mothballs is to place them into a small plastic bag (poke a few holes in the bag so the strong smell can escape) and position these in spots behind the tyres, and under the hood of the car. 


Cats hate the smell of the mothballs so this will keep them away.

However, it’s important to note that mothballs are toxic to cats if consumed so they should be used with care.

It’s best to position the mothballs in places where cats won’t be able to access them. 

6. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper On Your Car

If you don’t want a strong-smelling deterrent, sprinkling cayenne pepper near your vehicle is a great option.

cayenne pepper can be used to deter cats

Cayenne pepper is an effective repellent and is a great way to keep cats away without actually putting anything on your vehicle.

It will take a couple of days to be fully effective though so sprinkle the pepper nearby each time you park the car.

7. Use Strips Of Aluminium Foil

Cats hate walking on foil so placing a couple of strips of foil on the hood of the car is an effective deterrent.

aluminium strips

This is something that you can do a couple of times but it isn’t a practical option for long-term use.

Hopefully, after a few nights, the cat will realise the car is not something they want to walk across and the foil will no longer be needed. 

8. Place A Cardboard Box Nearby

One way to encourage a cat not to sit on your car is to offer an alternative place nearby.

For some reason, cats absolutely love cardboard boxes.

a cardboard box near a car

They seem to be drawn to them so if the weather is good you could place a cardboard box somewhere close to your car.

This is a cheap and easy option that could be enough to distract the cat and make them forget all about the car.

Of course, this isn’t a long-term solution but if it works you could place a sturdier box nearby to do the job. 

9. Use A Car Cover

A car cover is a great option if you don’t have access to a garage.

If you don’t mind the cat being around but you want to keep your car protected, a cover is the way to go. 

a car with a car cover

Using a cover means you don’t need to worry about trying to train the cats or deter them as they can still go onto the car but without the risk of the car getting dirty or scratched.

Some cats will stop climbing on the car when it is covered anyway because they don’t like the feeling or sound of the cover.  

A car cover may seem inconvenient at first but once you get used to it, the cover takes just a few minutes to put on and take off.

10. Ultrasonic Cat Deterrents

Ultrasonic cat deterrents work by emitting a high-pitched sound that annoys cats but is inaudible to humans.

The deterrents are usually motion-activated so you can simply place one near your car and each time a cat approaches the area the deterrent will sound and the cat will move away.

One of the good things about these deterrents is they are small in size and the sound is too high-pitched for human ears so won’t annoy you or your neighbours.  

11. Use Neudorff Super Strength Cat Repellent

This is a great cat repellent that can be sprinkled around the car and driveway.

The repellent will drive cats away and will also cover any territorial smells so cats won’t return.

This repellent contains garlic oil and natural plant extracts so it is safe to use.

This super strength repellent is long-lasting and can provide weeks of protection but it will need to be sprinkled again after heavy rain. 

12. Use Orange Peel

One of the smells cats are not a fan of is citrus.

Placing a few orange peels around the car can help deter cats from coming too close.

It’s important not to place the peels on your car as the acid can damage the paint job.

orange peel

If you don’t want to use orange peel because it looks messy, you can use orange essential oil mixed with water or use the orange peel to make an orange-scented spray to use around the car.

It is the citrus smell the cats don’t like so using an orange smell rather than an actual orange should be just as effective. 

13. Use Lavender

Lavender is another smell cats don’t like.

If the cat is coming onto your driveway you could put lavender plants around the drive to deter them.

You could also sprinkle some lavender onto the hood and roof of your car.


The strong smell of this plant means cats tend to avoid the area.

There are also lavender essential oils that can be used to make a spray.

The downside to using dried lavender or a scent spray is that the lavender smell will get blown away on windy days.

14. Use Rosemary

Rosemary is another herb that most cats keep their distance from so if lavender hasn’t had the desired effect, try rosemary instead.

rosemary herb

Depending on the situation and your preferences you can use lavender plants near your car, a lavender essential oil spray, or dried lavender to keep cats away.

15. Speak To The Cat’s Owner

If you know the cat’s owner, it is worth having a chat and asking if they can help keep the cat away from the car.

This conversation can be difficult but it can go a long way to helping solve the problem. 

cat owner hugging cat

Maybe the owner can get the cat’s nails trimmed to help avoid the scratch marks or they might be willing to work with you to train the cat to rest somewhere else. 

16. Park Somewhere New

The cat may spend time on your car because they like to sit up high and keep watch over their home or territory.

If you move your car to another spot you might find the cat is no longer an issue. 

parking your car somewhere else will stop cars from sitting on it

If possible, move your car to a spot that is shady or busier as cats tend to enjoy laying in warm, quiet places. 

17. Try Motion Activated Lights

If the problem is purely happening at night then a light-based solution could work.

Some cats will be scared off by lights while others won’t be, so before buying new motion-activated lights try to shine a torch at the cat if you get the chance. 

If the cat does get startled by the torchlight, motion-activated lights are the way to go.

Simply point the motion-activated lights towards your car and they will do the rest. 

18. Move Your Car Into The Shade 

If the problem is happening during the day, it could be that the cat is sitting on your car because it is a warm place to be.

a car parked in the shade

Try moving your car to a shady spot as this will make the car a less appealing option. 

19. Offer A More Attractive Place To Sit Nearby

The cat is probably using your car because it offers them a great vantage point and is warm too.

You could offer them a more attractive place to enjoy, for example, you could fit a ledge up a nearby tree and encourage them to use it with treats and catnip. 

cat enjoying a warm spot outdoors

Once the cat realises the ledge is there to stay and is a better option than the car, they’ll use that instead.

At first, it is worth giving the cat treats and positively reinforcing their use of the ledge so they associate it with good things while also discouraging them from spending time on the car. 

20. Cat Training

If the culprit is your own cat, consider training them.

Use positive reinforcement to encourage your cat to relax and sunbathe in a different area.

Use a sound or spray when your cat goes near the car to help them realise that the car should be avoided and the selected area is a much better place to go to relax. 

cat training

Training can be time-consuming but with a bit of patience and consistency, the cat will get the hang of it.

You can help keep the cat returning to their new sunbathing spot by giving them treats and praise when you see them using it. 


One of the hardest things about keeping cats off of cars is that you can’t be there to watch for them all the time.

That is why motion-activated deterrents or strong smells that will linger for days are such effective options.

They will continue to work even when you’re not there to check.

Be consistent with the deterrent and before long the cat will learn that there are much better places to spend their time than on your car.  

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