How To Keep Cats Away From Your Pond

Cats can be a real problem for pond owners. 

Not only do they prey on your prized fish, they can also kill frogs, toads and lizards and damage the pond liner with their sharp claws.

Most domestic cats don’t like getting wet, so it’s rare that you’ll see a cat wading into a pond to catch a fish, but there are always exceptions.

Cats are interested in looking at the fish and some will wait at the edge of the pond for the fish to surface and then take a swipe at the fish with their claws.

Koi are generally too large for cats to scoop out of the water, but cats can inflict some nasty scratches to the fish that can become infected. 

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keep cats away from pond

My four rescue cats are former stray cats and their hunting instincts are still strong.

I often see them displaying predatory behaviour when they’re out in the backyard so I wouldn’t leave them alone with my pond full of fish.

If you’re having trouble with your own cats or neighbourhood cats stealing your fish, there are many ways to keep cats away from your pond.

Here are 7 of the best natural cat deterrents.

cat near pond

1. Install a pond cover

Pond covers shaped like a dome are easy to place over the top of your pond to protect your fish.

You can easily move the cover to the side when you want to feed the fish or clean the pond.

2. Use netting to cover the pond

Covering the pond with thick netting will also stop cats preying on your fish.

When measuring your pond, add a couple of extra feet on each side to allow the netting to completely cover the whole pond area.

You can use metal pegs to stake the netting to stop cats getting underneath it to access the pond.

Chicken wire can also be used in place of netting.

When installing chicken wire it’s best if it’s raised one or two inches (2.5 to 5 cm) above the surface of the pond so that the fish can still come to the surface without injuring themselves.

3. Use sprinklers

A motion-activated sprinkler can be placed near the pond so when a cat comes within range it’s blasted with water.

After the cat has been sprayed with water a few times it should learn to stay away.

You could also try an ultrasonic pest repeller that uses ultrasonic waves and a flashing red light to scare away any pond predators.

The sounds emitted are inaudible to humans but intolerable for cats.

cat next to a pond

4. Water gun

If you see a cat near your pond you can use a long range water gun to squirt the cat with water.

You can also spray the cat with a hose if you’re fast enough.

5. Provide hiding spaces for fish

Shallow ponds mean that fish are easy pickings for cats and other predators, so it’s ideal if your fish pond is at least two feet deep to give the fish an opportunity to retreat to the deeper parts of the pond when a predator is near.

Some large flat rocks overhanging the edge of the pond or a fish cave will also provide safe places for the fish to hide.

6. Use plants to help fish hide

Pond plants like water lettuce or water lilies planted around the edge of the pond will allow the fish to hide underneath their leaves if a cat is lurking around the edge of the pond.

The fish will still be able to come up to the surface in the middle of the pond where it’s safer.

Winterizing aquatic plants

7. Natural cat deterrents

Cats really dislike the smell of cayenne pepper and black pepper, so you can sprinkle these powders around the perimeter of the pond.

Just be careful that they don’t get washed into the pond after rainfall.

Cats don’t like the smell of citrus either, so you can leave some orange, lime or lemon peels around the pond area or sprinkle a few drops of citrus essential oil.

Planting lavender or lemon thyme near the pond will also help to keep cats away. [1]

pond liner

So there are my tips for keeping cats away from your pond.

Hopefully these natural solutions will deter any problem cats so that your fish can live in peace.


Have you tried any of these methods to keep cats away from your fish pond? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Backyard Ponds and Pond Tips that you may enjoy.

cat sitting next to a pond
keeping cats away from fish ponds

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Scott DeNicola

    The neighbor behind me used to lose so many fish to cats each year. She also lost a few to a giant Tern that landed next to her pond. It looked like a pterodactyl! She has since gotten a screen that goes over the pond as did my friend who just built a beautiful KOI pond in his yard. Besides the fact that the fish are expensive, it has to be terrifying for them to be stalked like that! I didn’t know the Cayenne pepper trick. I may have to try that one.

  2. Alexandra Christensen

    There were some really good tips here. I never thought about cats being a problem with ponds only because I know they hate the water and I didn’t think fish could get where they would be in danger of a cat. However, now that you have explained this, I think the best tips were the motion-activated sprinkler or planting plants like lavender. That is if those scents really work. I would probably go with the motion-activated sprinkler.

  3. Juia

    Thank you for the good tips on how to keep cats away from your pond and for the very nice pictures. Are these your rescue cats and your pond? Both cats and ponds are beautiful!

    Out of all suggestions, I loved the idea of installing motion-activated sprinklers. Water plants and planting lavender or lemon thyme near a pond also sound good to me, but… is it 100% effective?

    Thank you for the awesome post,

    ~ Julia

  4. Lyosha

    Great tips! Even if you don’t have a cat of your own your neighbors probably do.

  5. Melanie williams

    There are some really good tips and hints here, as the last thing you want is a cat getting in your pond. Plants for the fish are always a great idea xx

  6. jerry godinho

    Cats can be a nuisance. A lot of my neighbors have cats and they can do all kinds of things to your garden. Thanks for giving us these various suggestions. Now we also get raccoons and all kinds of wild animals so the best suggestion is using the net that you have which I like. Thanks for this wonderful piece.

  7. Carol

    So many great ideas. I love the plants where the fish can hide. The sprinkler system is brilliant but I really like the lavender and thyme. Both have many medicinal properties.

  8. Lyanna Soria

    I never thought of cats trying to get the fish from ponds before, this is quite new to me or maybe it’s because I haven’t seen it happening yet. Those are some great tips to keep in mind, thanks for the share.

  9. Lene Andersen

    Having a fish pond is such a wonderfully peaceful element to a garden, but boy, there’s a lot to think about. I especially like your ideas about including vegetation and a fish cave to give the fish safe places to hide — making the protection elements a natural feature of the design of the pond saves you from installing nets and domes which might work against that peaceful aim.

  10. Diane

    I have some stray cats hanging around my house. They have gotten 10 of my 15 fish out of my pond so far. I tried putting pine sol around the pond. That worked for a few days. My pond is not very big. I have lettuce plants in it. The cats seem to get in the pond, because the lettuce plants are all upside down and the filter and water sprout had been moved. I do not know what to do! 😞

    1. Kelly Martin

      Oh sorry to hear that Diane. You might need to install a fence if the cats are getting in the water.

  11. Eleanor Roper

    Fences don’t work! They jump the fence! I’ve seen them!

  12. Wayne Marshall

    My friend has a large bird come into his inside pond in his outside area. It’s an IBIS BIRD. It has taken several of his small fish and the pond is only shallow. Could you recommend what to use? Thank you

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Wayne, It might be best to cover the pond with mesh or thick netting to keep the birds out.

  13. Kimberly

    Im thinking of building a small outdoor aquarium.. I’m worried about all the stray cats getting in it. The orange, lemon and lime peels sounds like a good idea. Think I will try it out before I put in any fish!!

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