Prevent Cat from Rummaging: 8 Clever Strategies to Keep Cat Out of the Trash Can

Why Do Cats Love Trash Cans?

If you’re a cat lover like me, you may have noticed that our feline friends have a strange affinity for trash cans. While it may seem puzzling at first, there are a few reasons why cats are drawn to these not-so-glamorous treasures.

1. Instinctual Behaviors:

Cats have a natural hunting instinct, even if they’re well-fed indoor pets. Trash cans provide an abundance of interesting smells and textures that trigger their hunting instincts. The rustling of papers or the scent of leftover food can be irresistible to a curious cat.

2. Hidden Treasures:

Trash cans can be like treasure troves for cats. They’re filled with interesting items to explore, such as crinkly wrappers or empty containers. Cats love to paw and play with these objects, as it stimulates their senses and helps satisfy their natural curiosity.

3. Food Opportunities:

Let’s face it—some of our discarded items can smell tantalizingly delicious to a cat. Even if you think you’ve disposed of scraps properly, traces of food odors can linger in the trash can. Cats have a keen sense of smell, and they won’t pass up the chance for a potential snack.

4. Cozy Hideaways:

Trash cans, especially with bags or liners, provide a cozy and enclosed space where cats can curl up for a nap or feel protected. Cats enjoy having a safe and secluded spot where they can relax and observe their surroundings. It’s like having their own little den.

Understanding why cats love trash cans can help us come up with effective strategies to keep them out. While it may be intriguing for our furry friends, it’s important to prevent them from rummaging through the trash for their safety and our cleanliness.

So, now that we know the reasons behind a cat’s affinity for trash cans, let’s dive into some practical tips to help ensure that our feline friends stay away from this potentially messy habit.

Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior

Cats are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors that can both amuse and perplex us. By understanding your cat’s behavior, you can better address their needs and keep them away from the allure of the trash can. Here are a few insights into why your feline friend may be drawn to the trash:

1. Instinctual Behaviors

Cats are natural hunters, and their instincts drive them to explore their surroundings. Trash cans provide a playground of interesting scents and textures for them to investigate. Even though we may not find the trash appealing, it’s like a treasure trove for your cat.

2. Hidden Treasures

To your cat, the trash can is like a mystery box waiting to be opened. They are attracted to the rustling sounds of the plastic bags and the unknown objects hidden within. It’s like a game of hide-and-seek, where they hope to find something exciting or tasty.

3. Food Opportunities

Cats are notorious food lovers, and they have an impeccable sense of smell. Even if you diligently empty food scraps into the trash, the lingering aroma can still catch your cat’s attention. They may see the trash as a potential source of a delicious meal or simply a way to satisfy their curiosity.

4. Cozy Hideaways

Trash cans also offer a cozy and secluded spot for cats to curl up and take a nap. The enclosed space provides a sense of security and warmth, which can be especially appealing to cats seeking comfort.

Create an Alternative Feeding Area

If you want to keep your cat out of the trash can, one effective strategy is to create an alternative feeding area. Cats are drawn to trash cans because they see them as a potential source of food. By providing a designated feeding spot, you can redirect their attention and satisfy their hunting instincts in a more appropriate way. Here are some tips to help you set up an alternative feeding area for your feline friend:

  1. Choose the right location: Find a quiet and accessible spot in your home where you can set up the alternative feeding area. It should be away from the trash can and any other potential sources of food.
  2. Invest in a food puzzle: Food puzzles are a great way to stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instincts. These interactive toys challenge them to work for their food, which not only keeps them mentally stimulated but also slows down their eating pace.
  3. Use a separate bowl: Set up a separate food bowl in the designated feeding area. Make sure it is clean and easily accessible for your cat. Avoid placing it near the trash can or any other areas where you don’t want your cat to go.
  4. Feed at regular intervals: Stick to a consistent feeding schedule for your cat. This helps them develop a routine and reduces their desire to scavenge for food elsewhere. Make sure you provide them with enough food to meet their nutritional needs.
  5. Consider puzzle feeders: Puzzle feeders are another option to engage your cat during mealtime. These toys require them to work for their food by pawing, pawing, or pushing the food out of the puzzle. It’s a fun and engaging way for your cat to eat!

Remember, it may take some time for your cat to adjust to the alternative feeding area. Be patient and provide positive reinforcement when they use it. By creating a designated spot for them to eat, you can help curb their curiosity towards the trash can and keep them out of trouble.

Make the Trash Can Unappealing

As a cat lover, you understand that cats are naturally curious creatures. They have a knack for finding hidden treasures and exploring places they shouldn’t. So, it’s no surprise that they might be drawn to your trash can. But fear not! There are ways to make the trash can unappealing to your furry friend.

  1. Secure the lid: Make sure your trash can has a sturdy lid that can be securely fastened. Cats are agile creatures, but a properly closed lid can deter them from discovering the delights within.
  2. Scent deterrents: Cats have a strong sense of smell, and certain scents can be off-putting to them. Consider using natural deterrents such as citrus peels, coffee grounds, or peppermint oil around the trash can area. These scents are known to repel cats.
  3. Double bagging: If you have particularly tempting items in the trash, double bagging can help mask the enticing smells. By creating an additional barrier, you reduce the chances of your cat being lured in.
  4. Clean the trash can: Cats are less likely to be interested in a clean and odor-free trash can. Regularly clean and disinfect the can to remove any lingering scents that might attract your feline friend.
  5. Alternative distractions: Cats are easily distracted. Provide them with alternative toys, scratching posts, or interactive puzzles to keep them engaged and away from the trash can.

Remember, it’s important to create an environment that is unappealing to your cat without causing them any harm. By following these tips, you’ll help keep your trash can off-limits to your furry friend and maintain a clean and tidy living space.

Secure the Trash Can

One important step in keeping your beloved feline friend out of the trash can is to secure it properly. Here are some easy and effective ways to accomplish that:

  1. Invest in a Trash Can with a Lid: Look for a trash can with a secure lid that can’t be easily knocked over or opened by curious paws. This will create a physical barrier and make it harder for your cat to get into the trash.
  2. Use Bungee Cords or Clamps: As an extra layer of security, consider using bungee cords or clamps to keep the lid tightly closed. Make sure they are strong enough to withstand your cat’s attempts to access the treasure trove inside.
  3. Place Heavy Objects on Top: Another handy trick is to place heavy objects on top of the lid. This will add extra weight and make it even more challenging for your cat to open the trash can.

Remember, cats are resourceful and persistent, so it’s crucial to use multiple measures to secure the trash can effectively.

Using Scent Deterrents

In addition to securing the trash can physically, you can also use scent deterrents to make it less appealing to your curious kitty. Cats have a strong sense of smell, and certain odors can be repulsive to them. Here’s how you can use scent deterrents to discourage your cat from exploring the trash can:

  • Citrus Peels: Cats generally dislike the strong scent of citrus fruits. Place orange or lemon peels near the trash can to create a natural deterrent.
  • Mint or Lavender: These fragrances are pleasant to us but tend to repel cats. Consider using mint or lavender essential oils or sachets near the trash can to deter your feline friend.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Sprinkling a thin layer of cayenne pepper around the trash can can discourage your cat from coming near it. Just make sure to keep it out of reach of your cat’s sensitive nose.

By utilizing scent deterrents, you can create an olfactory barrier that will make the trash can less appealing to your mischievous companion.

Double Bag and Clean the Trash Can

  • Double Bag: By double bagging your trash, you create a stronger barrier between your cat and the tempting smells

Provide Entertainment and Enrichment

Cats are curious and energetic creatures, and keeping them entertained and mentally stimulated can help prevent them from getting into trouble, like rummaging through the trash can. By providing them with plenty of entertainment and enrichment, you can satisfy their instincts and keep them from seeking out other sources of amusement.

Here are a few tips to provide entertainment and enrichment for your feline friend:

  1. Interactive Toys: Invest in interactive toys that engage your cat’s natural hunting instincts. Toys that mimic prey, like feather wands or puzzle toys that dispense treats, can keep them entertained for hours.
  2. Scratching Posts: Cats enjoy stretching and keeping their claws sharp, so having a scratching post can prevent them from scratching furniture or getting into the trash can out of boredom. Place the post in a visible and accessible location, and encourage your cat to use it with treats or catnip.
  3. Vertical Spaces: Cats love to climb and explore their surroundings from a higher vantage point. Provide vertical spaces such as cat trees or shelves where they can perch and observe their environment. This not only entertains them but also satisfies their natural instinct to survey and mark their territory.
  4. Window Perches: Position a cat bed or perch near a window so your cat can watch the outside world. The sights, sounds, and smells of birds, squirrels, and other wildlife can keep them entertained and mentally engaged.
  5. Hide and Seek: Create hiding spots around your home using boxes, tunnels, or cozy blankets. Cats enjoy playing hide and seek, and providing them with safe spaces to explore can keep them entertained and prevent them from going after the trash can.

Remember, keeping your cat mentally stimulated and entertained is crucial to preventing them from getting into mischief. By providing interactive toys, scratching posts, vertical spaces, window perches, and hiding spots, you can keep them engaged and less likely to explore the trash can.


By implementing the strategies mentioned in this article, you can effectively keep your cat out of the trash can. Securing the trash can with a lid, using bungee cords or clamps, and placing heavy objects on top will create a physical barrier that discourages your cat from accessing the trash. Additionally, using scent deterrents and regularly cleaning the trash can will make it less appealing for your feline friend.

However, it’s important to remember that prevention is key. Providing your cat with entertainment and enrichment is crucial to keep them mentally stimulated and less likely to explore the trash can. Interactive toys, scratching posts, vertical spaces, window perches, and hiding spots are all great options to keep your cat engaged and satisfied.

Remember, consistency is key when implementing these strategies. By creating a cat-friendly environment and establishing boundaries, you can ensure that your cat stays away from the trash can and enjoys a happy and healthy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I keep my cat out of the trash can?

A: To keep your cat out of the trash can, secure it with a lid. You can also use bungee cords or clamps to further secure it. Placing heavy objects on top can make it harder for your cat to access the trash. Additionally, using scent deterrents and regularly cleaning the trash can can discourage your cat from digging through it.

Q: What can I do to prevent my cat from getting into trouble?

A: To prevent your cat from getting into trouble, provide entertainment and enrichment. Interactive toys, scratching posts, vertical spaces, window perches, and hiding spots can keep your cat mentally stimulated and less likely to explore the trash can. Creating an engaging environment for your cat will help redirect their attention and energy away from misbehaving.

Scroll to Top