Are coffee grounds a good cat deterrent?

Coffee grounds that you would normally throw in the waste bin have been touted as being a “simple trick to make sure cats stay away from your backyard’s planters and pots”. It is described as a “savvy whizz”. A lot of people want to repel neighbouring domestic cats from their garden if they are committed gardeners and take a lot of enjoyment from their hobby. They don’t want to see neighbouring cats pooping and peeing over their precious work. I understand completely.

A TikTok user, Becky, shared her trick on the social media website where it has received over a quarter of a million views indicating its popularity which in turn indicates people are looking for some sort of successful method to deal with pesky neighbouring cats.


Literally my number one coffee hack, let me know if you’ll try this! ? #coffeegrounds #sage #herbgarden #gardeningtips #gardeninghack

♬ good 4 u – Olivia Rodrigo

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.

Note: I believe that you can deter cats by simply making your back garden a place to avoid. You can do this by shooing away neighbouring cats using body language and a strong voice as most cats are inherently scared of strange people. You do not need to harm a domestic cat. You simply make the cat’s visit unpleasant. You scare him/her and if you do it a few times they learn that your backyard is a hostile environment with a nasty predator i.e. you, and they will circumvent the place. It may take a few sessions to get the message across but it will work as good as any other deterrent. The only downside is that you have to be around at the time ?. This may be a problem.

Coffee grounds for deterring neighbouring cats. They are sprinkled over the soil

Coffee grounds for deterring neighbouring cats. They are sprinkled over the soil. TikTok screenshot.

Anyway, back to this TikTok hack. You take your old coffee grounds and crumble them up and put them on top of the soil where you want to protect your garden. The smell of coffee grounds deters cats because they hate it. Becky swears by it. She said that ever since she started doing this, she has had no issues with a neighbouring cat visiting her small garden.

“It has been a godsend for us, no more cat s**t.”

Coffee grounds do not harm plants and in fact they appear to be beneficial because they can fertilise the soil and release nitrogen.

But are coffee grounds toxic to domestic cats? Might a domestic cat nibble some out of curiosity and even ingest coffee grounds if they are left lying around a backyard?

The respected Pet Poison Helpline tells us that caffeine, if ingested by a cat or dog, can cause serious toxicity. One or two licks of the coffee grounds would not be a problem, of course, but a cat would be poisoned depending upon the amount ingested. I would suggest that dogs are more likely to eat coffee grounds than cats. The outcome must depend on the amount ingested. There may be signs of hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting and an elevated heart rate. In very severe cases caffeine can cause seizure and collapse.

The upshot is that there is a danger here to the cat if you use coffee grounds as a repellent. The risk is small because I wouldn’t foresee a domestic cat wishing to nibble coffee grounds but the point needs to be made nonetheless.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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