The Easy-To-Grow Herb That Can Help Keep Cats From Invading Your Garden

Cats may rule the internet, but that doesn't mean you want them frolicking through the garden at will. Whether they're strays, your neighbor's, or your own, cats can be nuisances in flower beds, treating your mulch like their litter box and your plants like their catnip. Rather than letting these curious felines run amok, you can keep them away by planting rosemary. Cats don't seem to enjoy the smell, so they're more likely to avoid the area.

It's a simple solution that will deter cats and benefit you and your garden. You can harvest rosemary for cooking or DIY herbalism projects like mosquito repellent. In the garden, it acts as a deterrent for several pests, including Mexican bean beetles, slugs, and carrot flies. Using a plant to deter pests –- both feline and insect –- is a useful way to create diversity in the garden, especially since it will attract a host of beneficial pollinators like bees.

Rosemary keeps the cats away

If you've ever seen a cat sniff something, you may have seen them scrunch up their face while pulling away. It's not because they're persnickety animals who don't enjoy anything; they just have sensitive sniffers. According to the Scientific American, a cat's nose is full of tiny tunnels lined with scent receptors. They have far more than humans, but not as many as dogs.

With such a sensitive nose, it's no wonder strong aromatic scents like rosemary are overwhelming. We humans may enjoy the aroma, but cats can't help but squint their eyes as the scent hits all their receptors. It's important for kitties to protect themselves from harsh odors because inhaling too much of them can cause problems, ranging from minor issues like watery eyes to more severe symptoms like vomiting or having trouble breathing. Although rosemary may be an irritant, the ASPCA says rosemary is non-toxic to cats, so it won't hurt them should they brave the odor and try to chomp on it.

Growing rosemary in the garden

Rosemary is easy to grow, though it will take some patience if you start with cuttings. Start with a cutting from a friend or with seedlings from a plant nursery. They need full sun and are drought-tolerant once they're established, though you'll need to water more often while the plant is young. Too much water is the biggest killer of this plant, so keep it in a separate container near your other plants if necessary to prevent overwatering.

You can grow rosemary year-round if you live in a mild climate since it's an evergreen plant. You can harvest and eat the herb whenever you want. Cut the leaves whenever you need some more, making sure to leave some behind so the plant can continue growing. Since rosemary is so aromatic, you may want to try leaving cut leaves around the garden to ward off cats further. Since the plant keeps away slugs, snails, and other pests, it's a good one to distribute around the garden.