five weaned feral kittens on a street in a gang

Will Bleach Keep Stray Cats Away?

Will bleach keep stray cats away? Bleach is not really recognized as a cat deterrent. In some circumstances, it can contribute to helping deter cats but in other situations, it may actually make things worse!

Let’s see how you can and why you shouldn’t use bleach to try and get rid of feral or stray cats. Read on to learn more…

Does Bleach Keep Stray Cats Away?

Unfortunately, bleach does not directly keep cats away – which is a shame because it is cheap and easy to get hold of! There is nothing in bleach itself that makes a passing stray cat avoid taking action.

But, you can use bleach to wash down areas that have been marked by community cats. Basically stray cats are probably using your property as a message drop. They are coming along and spraying, which is a form of cat communication. This spraying can convey territorial rights, reproductive readiness, general health, and a whole host of other information that all the local cats will pick up on and then spray a return message – they are using your property as a message board!

a grey cat looking out of a window at a ginger cat sitting on a porch
get off my porch!

Now, spritzing bleach randomly around the property as a deterrent won’t work. But you can use it diluted with water to “wipe the message board clean”. If you keep attacking sprayed areas and cleaning them up eventually the cats will realize it is futile and hopefully move on.

But, here is the rub – bleach as a cleaner may damage wooden surfaces so if you want to stop stray cats from spraying on your porch, water and detergent can achieve the same effect without running your decking or door timbers!

So, basically, bleach is not that useful in keeping stray, feral, or community cats away!

Do Cats Hate The Smell Of Bleach

Unfortunately, cats don’t hate the smell of bleach which is why it is not a very effective cat deterrent! There are plenty of aromas they do hate and despise that can be used as a cat deterrent but bleach is not one of them! But, we will come to that shortly…

Why Do Some Cats Like Bleach

This is the real reason why bleach is rubbish as a cat deterrent – some cats actually like bleach!

It would seem that the chlorine found in bleach actually attracts many cats in the same way as catnip attracts a lot of cats! For some reason the chlorine appears to meddle with the cat’s pheromone receptors, sending the cat off into an enjoyable frenzy. They will try to rub against anything that has come into contact with bleach, they will lick spots cleaned with bleach and generally go daft with the contact with bleach. Think of a cat enjoying catnip and bleach has a very similar effect on some cats.

ginger tabby cat spraying and marking territory
read my message…

Basically, if you go around spraying bleach or diluted bleach around your property the local cats will probably attend for a party! So, if you intend to wash down areas with bleach to “close” the message boards go with a very dilute solution!

What Can I Spray To Keep Stray Cats Away?

Ok, so bleach is a bad idea – what will work that is cheap, effective, and readily available? The answer is either vinegar or lemon juice. Cats have a sense of smell that is 16x greater than ours so you can imagine the eye-watering odor of vinegar or the stinging smell of citrus – and it works!

Vinegar Spray

Vinegar is great because as well as the odor being intensely nasty for cats the vinegar will also act as a natural disinfectant. 

You can make a dilute spray of vinegar, it does not have to be neat, and spray it around your property or home without it staining, damaging, or bleaching fabrics, timbers, or materials. It is even ok on plants and vegetation. 

But, the best thing about it is that areas outdoors that you know cats have been spraying and marking on can be disinfected and made clean whilst keeping the cats away!

Cheap, effective, and available in any grocery store – vinegar should be your go too tool of choice!

half a lemon placed on a squeezer ready to squeeze juice
cat deterrent!

Lemon Spray

Who would have thought the humble lemon could be used as a cat deterrent? Well, it can be! Cats dislike citrus, so lemons, limes, and oranges are all viable cat deterrents.

You can either get bottles of lemon juice or squeeze the fruit to suit! Basically, it is not as good as vinegar because although cats hate it it does not really clean up and disinfect as vinegar does, but you may prefer the odor of citrus yourself.

Again, citrus sprays are easy because you can generally get the fruit or juice anywhere!

Commercial Cat Deterrent Sprays

You could go for hi-tech wizardry and get a commercial cat deterrent spray off the internet. Nature’s Mace Cat Mace is one such spray.

The active ingredients in these sprays are generally all-natural ingredients rather than weird chemicals!

Mace spray contains cinnamon, castor oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, garlic, soap, vinegar, and vanilla all blended into one deterrent so you got all bases covered! Obviously, looking over that list some of the items are hardly off the shelf at your local convenience store so you are going to have to order the stuff in!

But, judging from reviews these deterrent sprays do work – just be mindful they are not a one-shot success. You have to lay down layers of spray to build up the deterrent and rainfall can put you back to square one!

vomiting tabby cat outdoors
uninvited guest..

Other Cat Deterrents

Sprays have their place but they are not the only means of keeping stray cats away. In fact, you will get a lot more joy if you can rig up a motion detector water spray cat deterrent. These are hugely successful and simply solve the problem when it comes to keeping stray cats away from your home, but they do cost more than the deterrent sprays, especially vinegar!

Check out our article How Do I Keep Stray Cats Away for more in-depth coverage of cat deterrents and What Can I Spray On Plants To Keep Cats Away to get a bit more info on plant-friendly cat deterrents.

Final Thoughts

Bleach isn’t the answer, in fact, it might make the problem worse! Head for the vinegar aisle initially if you want a cheap, easy-to-purchase fix but be mindful that one spray won’t do it – you are going to have to lay down layers of spray to get full deterrent effect and value. 

If the vinegar doesn’t work then consider some of the more heavy-duty commercial options like water jets or specialist sprays to keep local cats away!