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We love cats but other people’s cats can sometimes be a nuisance in the garden. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to discourage them from pooping in your child’s sandbox or scratting about in your vegetable patch, but it should be done safely and humanely. Using strong-smelling foodstuff is a fairly common solution but what about our favorite wintery spice – does cinnamon keep cats away?
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is an aromatic spice made from the bark of trees that grow in places like Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China. Its warming taste and smell has similar notes to nutmeg and ginger and is widely used in cooking and baking as well as in popular wintery teas and coffees. Its distinct woody and spicy smell is something many of us will associate with Christmas.
Do cats like cinnamon?
Cats have a sense of smell that’s around fourteen times stronger than ours. Smell is important to cats because it’s how they understand their territory and the people, objects and other animals occupying it. Imagine how pungent that scent must be to their noses. Most cats don’t like cinnamon precisely because it’s so overpowering. That’s not to say that there aren’t some felines out there, however, that love the smell.
Is Cinnamon Safe for Cats?
Technically, cinnamon isn’t toxic to cats in the same way that other strong-smelling foods like onions, leeks or garlic are. In small doses, cinnamon sticks or powder shouldn’t do any harm but we wouldn’t advise using it to deter cats in the garden.
You shouldn’t encourage pets to play with or chew on a cinnamon stick either because in larger doses it can cause sickness and irritation if inhaled or ingested. It can also trigger allergic reactions if it gets onto fur and absorbed into the skin. Irritation can occur on the paws, nose, eyes and mouth.
Cinnamon essential oils are toxic to cats. According to the Pet Poison Helpline website, essential oils are concentrated to create a much stronger and more potent smell or taste, and a cat can become very ill if it comes into contact with it.
Cats don’t have the enzyme to break down some of the compounds in their liver so they wouldn’t need much exposure to cinnamon essential oil for it to be toxic.
Is Cinnamon Oil Bad for Cats?
Yes, cinnamon oil is bad for cats as is any essential oil as the ingredients are heavily concentrated and are, therefore, more potent.
Is Cinnamon Powder Harmful to Cats?
If a cat ingests a small amount of cinnamon powder, they’ll likely be okay but you should monitor them closely and at the first sign of illness or irritation take them to the vet.
Does it Work?
Cinnamon may work if the strong spicy smell isn’t palatable to the cat but all cats are different. You may find that the cat you want to keep away actually quite likes it. We wouldn’t advise using it as a deterrent as a cat will have repeated exposure to the cinnamon each time they visit the garden.
Alternatives to Cinnamon
You can buy cat-friendly deterrents online which use safe ingredients to keep cats away from your yard. It’s worth researching each one as some seem to be more effective than others in certain scenarios. We’ve found that used coffee grounds have been effective in the mulched bark area of our garden (and it blends in, too). It’s kept the cats from eliminating and burying their waste in it. Coffee grounds aren’t something that a cat is likely to try and eat, either. You just need to remember to reapply the grounds after poor weather or when the scent begins diminishing but this is as simple as saving the grounds and sprinkling them over the problem area.
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You can install motion-detecting sprays or sprinklers which will turn on when a cat walks by. You might also like to consider deterrents that send out a super high-pitched noise to keep cats away. Again, it’s worth researching which is better for your garden and budget. You can also plant shrubs, lavender or prickly plants in areas used by pets because this will discourage the cat from toileting in that area. You can buy materials to put down which create uncomfortable textures for cats to walk over.
Cats won’t keep returning to places that they don’t like and there are lots of options to help make your yard less popular with the neighborhood felines
Should I Use Cinnamon to Keep Cats Away?
Cinnamon isn’t toxic other than in concentrated doses but we wouldn’t recommend it. There are plenty of other ways to keep cats out of a garden. We also wouldn’t advise leaving cinnamon sticks or potpourri in areas of the house where a cat is unsupervised.
Whilst it’s frustrating when you have other cats coming into your garden there are plenty of other ways to discourage them that won’t land you in hot water with their owner or harm the cat.