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Home > Cats > Will Coffee Grounds Keep Cats Away? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Tips

Will Coffee Grounds Keep Cats Away? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Tips

woman use coffe ground as compost in her garden

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When trying to dissuade a cat from entering your garden, there are a few things you can use around the home that can repel them. Coffee grounds can repel them since cats hate the strong smell of coffee; it’s a cheap, effective way to keep them away from your roses. However, there can be some downsides to using coffee grounds around your garden since coffee isn’t safe for cats to ingest.


Are Coffee Grounds Safe For Cats?

Coffee (whether whole beans, grounds, or freeze-dried) are very toxic to cats due to the caffeine they contain. Even if only 2 tablespoons are ingested, that can be a toxic dose for the average cat.

If the coffee is particularly strong, the amount needed can be even smaller. If coffee grounds are sprinkled onto the ground, and a small cat or kitten rolls in it and licks it off, the coffee can cause an adverse reaction and possibly kill the cat.

Pile of fresh ground coffee
Image By: Anton Starikov, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Not Like the Smell of Coffee?

Cats are repelled by harsh aromas. Fresh-brewed coffee smells fantastic to humans, but cats have a sense of smell that’s much more developed than ours. Cats have 200 million scent receptors in their noses (compared to our measly 5 million), meaning that every scent is heightened and much stronger to them.


How to Use Coffee Grounds to Deter Cats

There are several ways you can use coffee grounds to deter cats from entering your garden. These methods will vary in effectiveness depending on your garden layout, but each method is easy to prepare:

1. Mix Into Topsoil

Coffee grounds can be mixed into topsoil that can be spread in beds, planters, or around your garden in areas that cats frequent. Ensuring an even mix is key, and this method also reduces the likelihood of a cat accidentally getting concentrated amounts of coffee grounds on themselves.

person composting coffee grounds and food waste
Image Credit: Jurga Jot, Shutterstock

2. Sprinkle Over Flower Beds

Coffee grounds can be spread over flower beds using a sprinkling motion or a trowel. Care is advised because this is a more concentrated way of using coffee grounds.

3. Sprinkle Into Pots

You can sprinkle coffee grounds into each pot if you have plants that you want to treat specifically or plants that cats seem to frequent.

putting used coffee grounds on gumamela plant
Image Credit: Marco Taliani de Marchio, Shutterstock

5. Place at the Edges of Your Garden

Coffee grounds are versatile; spreading coffee grounds at the edges of your garden or placing them around the borders can help to keep cats out entirely. They’ll be able to smell the strong smell of the coffee and likely won’t want to enter.

6. Place in Bowls on Your Patio

If you have a patio section that attracts felines, try putting coffee grounds in bowls or pots around the perimeter. The smell will still be strong enough to deter them, and it’s also a safer way of using the grounds since cats are unlikely to get close enough to the pots to investigate.

Used coffee grounds from coffee machine
Image Credit: RasaBasa, Shutterstock


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Coffee Grounds Good for Plants?

Coffee grounds are beneficial to plants. Coffee contains high amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are all essential nutrients that plants would usually get from the soil.

putting used coffee grounds on the plants
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Will Coffee Grounds Work to Deter All Cats?

Unfortunately, coffee grounds will not deter every cat. Some cats may be used to the smell of coffee if their owners like a freshly brewed cup in the morning. Others will be strong-willed enough to push through the scent and investigate whatever makes them curious.

Can Coffee Grounds Deter Any Other Animals?

The smell of coffee grounds also deters other animals. Animals with a good sense of smell, like rats, don’t like coffee grounds. Some sources even state that coffee can deter slugs, which are a real nuisance to gardeners.


Final Thoughts

Coffee grounds are an affordable cat deterrent that can be used in your garden and around your home. They are easy to find and use and are known to be excellent for plants. Since coffee grounds can harm cats if they ingest them, it’s best to use caution if you’re intent on using coffee in your yard. Although they’re more expensive than using coffee, scat mats and motion-activated sprinklers are safer alternatives for keeping cats out of your yard.

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Featured Image Credit: DGLimages, Shutterstock

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