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Home > Cats > Will Black Pepper Keep Cats Away & Is It Safe to Use? Facts & Safety Tips

Will Black Pepper Keep Cats Away & Is It Safe to Use? Facts & Safety Tips

Black peppercorns on wooden spoon

Trying to keep stray cats away from your house can be a challenge. You may have already done your best to remove whatever is enticing stray cats to enter your yard, such as opened trash cans, with little success. If you are looking into natural cat repellents, you may have heard that black pepper deters cats.

The truth is yes, black pepper deters cats. But should you use it? Is it safe? Continue reading for answers to these questions and more.


Is Black Pepper a Safe Cat Repellent?

To put it briefly, black pepper is an effective cat repellent. But while it is not toxic to cats, it is still considered inhumane.

At a minimum, the black pepper is highly uncomfortable for cats. Have you ever sneezed because you inhaled a little black pepper? That same sensation can occur in cats; however, it’s much more amplified. A cat’s sense of smell is much greater than a human’s, meaning their sensitivity is much higher.

Black pepper can cause more issues for cats than mere discomfort. In more severe instances, inhalation of black pepper can cause respiratory problems in cats. This is especially true if the cat already suffers from upper respiratory conditions. These issues could become so severe that immediate medical intervention may be needed.

Consuming black pepper may also cause problems for cats. If a cat ingests too much black pepper, they may experience gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and vomiting. There are also instances in which an affected cat may develop serious kidney issues.

So, while minimal exposure to black pepper may not come with severe consequences, there is still the possibility that a black pepper repellent can harm a cat.

What Are Other Unsafe Spices for Cats?

Plenty of foods and spices can cause serious health issues for cats, but there are a few hazardous species to be aware of. Garlic, shallots, onions, and scallions are poisonous to cats in large quantities and smaller, more concentrated forms.

Any vegetable in the onion family can attack your cat’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Some signs that your cat may be suffering from anemia are weakness and exhaustion, irregular breathing, high heart rate, discoloration of the gums, and a decrease in appetite. If you suspect that your cat has developed anemia, reach out to your vet right away.

If you want to use a certain food, herb, or spice as a cat deterrent, it’s important to verify that it will not bring harm to cats before you use it.

Alternatives to Black Pepper

If you want to use a natural repellant, there are many alternatives to black pepper. Some safe options include citrus fruits, rosemary, lavender, and eucalyptus. However, it should be noted that eucalyptus should only be used in a diluted form. Undiluted eucalyptus may cause issues such as nausea, excessive salivation, diarrhea, and seizures in cats.

Physical deterrents are the most humane ways to encourage cats to wander elsewhere. Scat mats, which have blunt plastic nobs, can effectively keep felines away from gardens, patios, windowsills, and decks. You can also use motion-activated sprinklers or noisemakers to keep strays away.

Image By: Andy M., Pixbay

Avoid Essential Oil Deterrents

Essential oils should not be used to deter cats. They are difficult for cats to process because their livers lack the proper enzymes to metabolize these oils. Even a few licks of essential oil could be enough for a cat to experience severe health consequences. This is especially true for cats that already struggle with liver complications.

Signs that a cat may have developed poisoning from essential oils include difficulty breathing, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, redness of the mouth, tremors, and a lack of coordination. If you suspect a cat has become poisoned, immediately call your veterinarian and the poison control center.



Stray cats can be a hassle when they start to linger or cause trouble, but it is important to use humane deterrents. Natural repellents can be effective without causing a cat any harm, but while non-toxic, black pepper is not safe for felines. We recommend using physical deterrents such as motion-activated devices and scat mats to keep the pesky neighborhood felines away from your yard.

Featured Image Credit: ka_re, Pixabay

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