How to make homemade dog & cat repellent

Updated February 21, 2017

Stray or loose dogs and cats can create mess on your lawn and cause damage in your garden. If you have your own pets, they can cause stress to your animals if they wander around outside your house. You can protect your property and pets by making homemade dog and cat repellent.

Identify your main problem. Are you dealing mainly with dogs or cats, or are you having an issue with both. Homemade repellent is based on a substance that the problem animal dislikes. If your problem is limited primarily to one species, you can gear your efforts in that direction.

Identify an appropriate substance to use. Dogs generally dislike smells like vinegar, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, and citrus scents like lemons and oranges. Cats don't like citrus, rosemary, or vinegar. If you are having problems with both types of animals choose something that repels both.

Apply the substance to your lawn, garden, or other affected area. If you are using a liquid scent, soak cotton balls and toss them around the area. If you are repelling cats, you can plant rosemary if you don't want to use the cotton ball method and rosemary oil.

Keep refreshing the repellent regularly. Rain will destroy the cotton balls, and wind can blow them away. Even if they remain in place, they will dry out and the scent will lost its effectiveness. You must reapply the repellent consistently or problem dogs and cats will quickly realise that the bad smell is gone and invade your property again.

If one type of repellent seems to be losing its effectiveness, switch to another. You may even need to use two different scents at the same time because there is no one repellent that is effective against all dogs or cats. Often it's a matter of mixing, matching, and experimentation to discover what works best for your situation.


If your homemade repellents are not working, consider purchasing a commercial product. You can easily find one made from natural ingredients such as essential oils. Commercial repellents are available at many home and garden stores.


Do not use mothballs or cayenne pepper to repel dogs and cats. Mothballs are poisonous to animals, and cayenne pepper can cause a dog or cat to injure its eyes while trying to get rid of the irritation.

Things You'll Need

  • To repel cats: Vinegar, rosemary oil or plants, oil of orange or lemon (or other citrus)
  • To repel dogs: Vinegar, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, oil of orange or lemon (or other citrus)
  • Cotton wool balls
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About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."