Rodents like mice can be a real headache, causing damage and carrying diseases. There are various methods to get rid of them, but most do not eradicate them. Rodents are known to avoid cats, which are their so-called mortal enemies, and many say that cat litter is effective at keeping mice away. In this article, we will look into whether there is any truth in that statement.
Does cat litter keep mice away?
Yes, cat litter can keep mice away, but only if it has been used by a cat. The smell of a cat or its urine deters mice, although this is not the best option. If you use cat litter but you do not have a cat, it will not keep mice away.
Cats are predators of mice, and just a whiff of cat urine is enough to scare mice away. Research confirms that mice are programmed to turn the other way when they smell cat urine. However, some mice are exposed to the chemical compounds in cat pee early in life, and they may be less likely to avoid a cat’s scent later on.
Further research shows that mice develop a physiological response to cat-specific compounds. When their neurons pick up the smell of cat litter, it triggers a reaction that increases stress hormones. When pregnant mice smell cat urine, they abort their fetuses or give birth to a smaller litter.
How to get rid of mice using cat litter
Use new, unscented cat litter.
To make sure that the cat litter is effective at keeping mice away, use new, unscented litter. Once your cat has peed on it, it will have a distinctive odor and mice will avoid your home when they detect this on the litter. This won’t be the case if you use scented cat litter, since it could mask the urine smell.
Locate the areas where mice spend most of their time in your home.
Before you place your kitty litter, locate the areas where mice are most likely to be. These are probably where your food is kept. Find the openings that mice use to gain access to your home by looking for their droppings. If you notice areas with chew marks, such as under doors, around windows and other small openings, it is likely that mice frequent these areas.
Do not touch the cat litter with your bare hands.
Use a scoop or disposable spoon to remove the litter from the litter box. Avoid touching the cat litter with your bare hands; it is not hygienic and your scent could mask the urine scent on the litter if you touch it.
Place the cat litter in the specific areas you have identified.
Once you have identified the appropriate areas, put down the litter. You could place it on a small plastic or metal tray or in containers with holes; however, the latter may remove some of the odor, and the more it dissipates the less likely it is to work.
Check regularly to monitor your success.
Do regular checks around your home to know whether the cat litter was effective at keeping the mice away. Look for evidence of mice, such as droppings and chewed areas.
If there are still traces of rodent activity, they may already have taken up residence on your property. If they have grown to a sizable population, cat litter will not be enough. You may need to use other rodent control techniques such as traps, electronic devices or rodenticides.
Scents that keep mice away
Cinnamon has a strong, spicy aroma to which mice are strongly averse. Place cinnamon sticks in cabinets, drawers, closets and underneath your furniture. It repels mice and also gives off a pleasant aroma in your home.
Vinegar has a strong and sour scent, especially when undiluted. Its aroma repels mice but it can be a very arresting smell if placed in many areas around your home. To apply it, mix vinegar with some water in a spray bottle and mist the areas where you suspect rodent activity. Spray around countertops, closets, doors and floorboards.
3. Dryer sheets
Mice also do not like the smell of dryer sheets. Just stick a sheet in small spaces where mice usually hang out and leave it there for at least a week. There is no negative effect if you leave them there for longer, except that they will lose their scent.
4. Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil has a strong aroma that mice dislike, and it also contains menthol compounds that irritate their nasal cavities. Just a whiff of peppermint oil is enough to make mice avoid the area. You can dip towels, rags and cotton balls in the oil and place them around your home. You could also dilute 15 drops of oil with water to make a spray, and use this liberally around the target areas.
5. Tea bags
Tea bags can repel mice because of their strong scent and should be used the same way as cinnamon sticks, oils, and dryer sheets. Boil water, make the tea, allow it to sit for a while, and then place the used tea bags in areas where you think mice have been.
6. Mint toothpaste
Because mice hate the smell of mint, you can also smear a bit of mint toothpaste around your home to repel them. You can rub toothpaste along the bottom of baseboards, under doors and on closets.
The smell of ammonia resembles that of cat urine, which means mice will avoid areas with this smell. They will consider your home to be that of a predator, and therefore unsafe to return to. Reapply the scent when it fades to make sure that the mice do not come back.
8. Cloves and clove oil
Cloves and clove oil also emit a strong scent that repels mice. Just smear or spray in areas where you suspect the presence of mice. You can also combine it with lavender, pepper or peppermint. Dilute the oil with water before use.
9. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper has a strong, sharp scent that also keeps mice away. Sprinkle the pepper in areas where you have seen evidence of mice, and the smell will irritate their nasal cavities.
The presence of mice in your home can be alarming since they are carriers of disease. They also damage furniture and other items around the home. To keep mice away, you can use unscented cat litter, as long as it has been used by your cat. When mice detect the smell of cat urine in the litter, they will avoid the treated areas.
Image: istockphoto.com / Reoo