Flea Repelling Plants that are Safe for Cats

Lots of plants have flea-repellent properties, which can be very useful if you’re trying to keep those biting bugs away from your home and pets. However, several flea repelling plants are also toxic to cats and other animals and may be dangerous to have around.

Fortunately, there are several plant species that are kind to cats while making fleas flee. The best pet friendly, flea repelling plants include peppermint, catnip, lavender, sage, lemongrass, and rosemary.

Plants to avoid include eucalyptus, fleabane, tansy, citronella, and bay leaves.

Which flea repelling plants are safe to use around cats?

There are several plant species that fleas find repulsive, and that won’t harm your pets. The best flea repelling plants for pet-owning households include:


Peppermint is a highly effective insect repellent. Planting peppermint in your garden can help to keep a wide range of insects (including fleas) at bay while having no adverse effects on your pets.


Your cat will thank you for this one! Catnip may be a potent insect repellent, but it’s completely safe to grow around cats – and what’s more, they adore it! Catnip not only repels fleas but is also highly effective against a variety of other insects, including mosquitoes.


Lavender is a well-known insect repellent and is completely safe to grow around cats. Planting lavender in your garden or scattering sprigs around your house is a great way to keep your home cat friendly, flea-free, and fragrant.


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Fleas can’t stand the scent of sage, but this herb won’t have any negative impact on your furry friends. Introduce sage to your garden to keep biting bugs away from your cat, and to add extra flavor to your cooking.


Lemongrass is a key ingredient in some commercial flea and tick repellent products, so adding the plant to your garden can help to repel these nuisance pests. Even better, it’s completely safe to use around cats, dogs, and other pets.


Yet another cat-safe flea repelling plant is rosemary. Plant some in your herb garden to reduce the number of insects in your backyard!

Which flea repelling plants are toxic to cats?

There are several more plants that can repel fleas and other insects, but these may not be suitable for use around pets. Many plants are actually toxic to cats, including:


Eucalyptus is a popular ingredient in insect-repellent products, and can also be used to keep fleas away. Unfortunately, eucalyptus is also toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, and can cause salivation, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression if ingested.

Pennyroyal (AKA Fleabane)

As the name suggests, fleabane has historically been used to repel fleas and other insects, including gnats and flies. Like eucalyptus, however, it is toxic to several animal species and may cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms in felines.

Tansy (AKA Golden Ragwort)

Keep in mind!

Tansy may deter a wide range of insects, but it can also be highly toxic if accidentally ingested.

Although tansy is unappealing to most animals, it can have serious effects if eaten by cats, dogs, horses, or other livestock. The toxic components in tansy can lead to liver failure, the symptoms of which include weight loss, weakness, sleepiness, loss of coordination, and neurological problems. Other effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and depression.


Citronella is a hugely popular ingredient in natural insect repellent products, and can often be found in the ingredient list of bug sprays and candles. Although citronella isn’t a confirmed cat poison, some people think it is toxic to our feline friends, and they don’t seem to like the smell. If you have cats at home, it’s best to play it safe and give the citronella repellents a miss.

Bay leaves

Bay leaves are widely thought to be an effective insect repellent, and scattering them on kitchen shelves may help to keep pantry pests at bay. It may also repel fleas, but it’s not safe to use in cat-owning households. Bay leaves are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms (like vomiting and diarrhea) if ingested by your pet.

How can you use flea repelling plants at home?

Once you’ve selected your cat-friendly, flea repelling plants, it’s time to put them to work!

Plant them in your garden


Fleas are usually outdoor bugs, so your pet is most likely to pick them up from your backyard. Planting flea repelling plants in your garden can reduce the flea population, making your cat far less likely to encounter them.

Scatter sprigs around your house

Dried sprigs of lavender, rosemary, peppermint, or sage can make your house smell great – but not to fleas! Hang insect-repelling herbs around your kitchen or over doorways to discourage insects from entering.

Use essential oils

The essential oils of insect-repelling plants can also be used to effectively repel fleas. Scatter drops across the threshold of doors or windows or place oil-soaked cotton balls here and there to keep bugs out of your house.


A wide variety of plant species are known to repel insects and can be an effective, natural way to reduce the number of fleas in your backyard. For pet owners, this may seem like the ideal way to protect their fur babies, but some flea repelling plants can do more harm than good.

Plants such as eucalyptus, citronella, tansy, fleabane, and bay leaves are all thought to repel bugs, but they are also toxic to several animal species – including cats. Contact with these plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or anorexia in affected felines, depending on the type of plant. Always check the profile of any plant you plan to introduce to your garden – especially if you have pets at home!

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