Why do some trees & bushes smell like cat urine?

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the problems homeowners face is how to protect their landscaping from marauding neighbourhood animals looking for a rest room. However, this is not necessarily the reason that some trees and bushes produce an odour reminiscent of cat urine. Whatever the reason may be that your yard gives off an unpleasant smell, you can take certain steps to reduce or eliminate the odour.


Black pepper and/or pine cones are excellent deterrents to feline prowlers. Use vinegar to remove any lingering odour.


If you have recently placed mulch in your landscaping or garden, this could be the culprit. The moisture in the mulch can begin to rot, giving off an ammonia-like odour. Try raking it to promote drying.


Certain trees, such as white spruce and locust trees, are known to produce a cat urine type of odour.

Other plants

Box elder, the herb Valerian, and certain types of viburnum and penstemon, are additional stinky vegetation culprits for which cats are erroneously blamed.

Advance planning

If you're thinking of adding a few plants to your landscaping, you may want to ask someone at the plant nursery what to expect before you invest in what may turn out to be an obnoxiously noxious plant.

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About the Author

Chris Carson has been writing professionally since 1988, specializing in topics such as cats, jewelry, history and English. Her articles have appeared in "Best Friends Magazine" and on various websites. Carson received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Arizona State University.