What Scents Do Cats Hate?

Cats are finicky creatures with strong opinions. They hate so many mundane things like getting wet or coming into contact with literally any other creature that its a wonder some of them manage to survive in the wild.

Photo credit: pixel2013, PixabayAny kind of citrus seems to be off-putting to felines, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Image Credit: monicore, PixabayAs with citrus, its believed that its the pungency of spicy peppers that makes them so noxious to cats.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay Most cats will avoid mint , and it seems that theres a good reason for that: It contains a compound that will kill them if they eat enough of it. Fortunately, it takes quite a bit to cause harm, but youll still want to make sure your cat doesnt eat any mint plants that you bring home. Image Credit: Madeleine Steinbach, ShutterstockMany essential oils are too powerful for your cats nose, but there are a few in particular that they seem to hate.

Image Credit: Nennieinszweidrei, PixabayA strongly aromatic herb (also known as Ruta graveolens ), rue is already found in many gardens, as its easy to grow and is extremely tolerant of dry conditions. Image credit: Making a repellent spray at home by Michael-T, PixabayAny soap or household cleaner that has a strong odor is likely to be too much for your cat. However, most of the scents on this list are things that youd have to go out of your way to bring home, so you dont need to worry too much about offending your cats olfactory senses accidentally.

What smell will repel cats?

Cats are more sensitive to scents than humans, so essential oils with strong odors, such as citrus and lavender, can help repel them. You can substitute lime, peppermint, and/or eucalyptus for the lemon, wild orange, and lavender if you prefer.

What natural scent keeps cats away?

Orange and lemon peels (cats dislike citrus smells), cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, & mustard oil. ingredients.

What smell do cats hate to poo on?

Odour repellent. Cats are incredibly sensitive to smell so strong scents such as lavender, peppermint or cinnamon are great for keeping them away. Choose one of these scents, mix with water and spray around the garden.

What scents affect cats?

Citrus: orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Citrus smells are widely reported as being repugnant to cats. ….Lavender, geranium, and eucalyptus. ….Rosemary, thyme, and rue. ….Banana and mustard. ….Pepper, curry, and cinnamon. ….Mint, wintergreen, and menthol. ….Pine. ….Dirty litter box.

Cats have a surprisingly powerful sense of smell. In fact, their sense of smell is considerably stronger than that of humans. A domestic cats sense of smell is between 9 and 16 times more powerful than yours so it is worth knowing what smells do cats hate.

Cats often rely more on their sense of smell than what they can actually see or touch when they are scoping out environments. This strong sense of smell is what has helped cats become outstanding hunters as they can sniff prey from a long way off.

However, this also means they can sniff cat food and treats from a long distance as well! Male cats mark their territory with urine or pheromones from glands in their face and feet. A kitten cannot open its eyes initially so will use smell to find and latch on to its mother.

This sensitivity to scent is perhaps another reason that cats so enjoy grooming themselves imagine how much cleaner you would want to be if you could smell the slightest hint of an aroma you found unpleasant? These include Rue, lavender, rosemary, mint, geranium, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, coleus and lemon thyme. The toxic herbs for cats include mint and lavender in oil form.

If your cat loves jumping onto your kitchen cabinets (as mine does) the strategic location of citrus fruits could be enough to put him off. When it comes to what smells do cats hate oranges, lemons and limes are high on the list. So if you order a takeaway Indian meal dont be surprised if you see very little of your cat in the kitchen for a while!

I tend to associate all of these scents with cleaning products that I personally like but my cat very much doesnt. You may have noticed that quite a few of the items in this list are aromas that are very pleasant to humans and are often associated with cleaning products. These scents plus the chemicals which are common in many household cleaners mean that your cat will not like most cleaning products that you use in your home.

It is important to be sensitive to this when it comes to cleaning in your cats favourite areas and their key items. Just as with cleaning products smells, cats also dont like soaps and deodorants. Due to their concentrated form cats tend to find the smell of essential oils far too strong for their sensitive little noses.

Whilst they might not like the smell, just the aroma wont hurt your cat. Cats often dislike smells that are toxic to them a natural form of protection. Personally, I find it extremely pleasant but alas your cat wont!

Whenever I return from the gym my cat is all over my runners and sweaty socks go missing with an almost alarming frequency! Do use this knowledge to find natural ways to help your cat behave well and to keep it safe and happy. Please Note: This what smells do cats hate post contains affiliate links.

Cats may not be blessed with the sophisticated sniffers of their canine counterparts, but theyre still far better equipped to experience the world through their noses than us humans. In fact, researchers estimate a cats sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than ours, thanks to about 200 million super-powered scent receptors (1, 2).

In particular, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)gases released into the air from a variety of products and processesoften serve as scent-based clues that tell cats to stay away from certain foods, substances, or plants ( 3 , 4 , 5 ). While the soothing scents of many essential oils like tea tree, lavender , and eucalyptus might be great for your self-care routine, kittens and cats may not share your enthusiasm ( 6 ).

Thats because exposure to large amounts of essential oils can be distressing and even toxic for cats due to potentially hazardous VOCs. Capsaicinthe special molecule that gives chili peppers their pungency and spiciness ( 13 )is also associated with potentially toxic VOCs, says Merkel. As such, their scent can deter cats if theres something you dont want them to eat or an area youd prefer they stay away from (like that houseplant potter they keep using as a restroom)!

So if you have a problem with curious kitties or strays in your yard, consider planting these specimens throughout your garden or along the edges of flowerbeds to serve as a natural cat deterrent ( 11 , 14 ). But since cats could accidentally ingest coffee grounds on their paws or fur when grooming, other options would be safer, she notes. Since essential oils in particular can be dangerous for cats when inhaled or eaten, dont use them in your home unless youre sure theyre safe for your pets.

You might be surprised to learn just how powerful your cats sense of smell is. In fact, cats have an even stronger sense of smell than many dog breeds do. Because cats often experience odors more intensely than humans do, they dont always perceive scentsgood or badthe same way. Lets learn more about which smells cats hate.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash Citrus smells are widely reported as being repugnant to cats. Citrus fruits are considered edible for cats (although most of them probably wont be interested), but the skins and plant material may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or dermatitis.

Keep in mind that lavender, geranium, and eucalyptus are all somewhat toxic to cats; if ingested, they can cause excess salivation, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, depression, or dermatitis. Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash Strong spicy aromas like pepper, curry, and cinnamon also tend to ward off cats. Coleus canina, also known as the scaredy cat plant, gives off a distinctive skunk smell and is also a dog repellent.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we recently learned a delightful fact about big cats: They love the smell of perfumes!

1. Citrus

Any kind of citrus seems to be off-putting to felines, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. It’s believed that these odors are too strong for their sensitive noses and send their olfactory senses reeling.If you want to use citrus as a deterrent, you can put juice or peels in any area that you don’t want your cat to enter. The downside, of course, is that you can never expect your cat to surprise you with fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

2. Spicy Peppers

As with citrus, it’s believed that it’s the pungency of spicy peppers that makes them so noxious to cats. It’s important to note that the peppers have to be spicy, though. Many cats will munch on other, sweeter peppers, so if you don’t have something flaming hot to deter them with, you may just give them a snack. On the other hand, if they can handle a habanero, they may actually be invincible.

3. Bananas

Bananas are another great way to keep cats at bay, although we’re not sure why. It may have something to do with the high potassium content, which is one reason that most cats don’t like the smell or taste of many medications.You can use cut-up chunks of banana or just the peel to keep your cat out of certain places, but you’ll want to replace them regularly to keep fruit flies at bay. You’ll also want to keep track of the peels, or else your cat may use them to finally incapacitate you.

4. Mint

Most cats will avoid mint, and it seems that there’s a good reason for that: It contains a compound that will kill them if they eat enough of it. Fortunately, it takes quite a bit to cause harm, but you’ll still want to make sure your cat doesn’t eat any mint plants that you bring home.However, some cats love mint because it contains compounds similar to nepetalactone, which is the active ingredient in catnip. Don’t assume that your cat will leave your mint plant alone just because it will kill them; as anyone who’s seen a cat on catnip will tell you, some felines seem to have a death wish.

5. Certain Essential Oils

Many essential oils are too powerful for your cat’s nose, but there are a few in particular that they seem to hate. These include scents like lavender, cinnamon, and lemongrass, all of which seem to send felines scurrying for the nearest exit.Be careful when using these as a deterrent, though. Some of them — particularly lavender — can be toxic to cats, and if they ingest the oil, it could cause liver damage and even death. Most cats won’t get close enough to drink it, of course, but there’s always one or two animals that seem to love tempting Darwin.

6. Coleus canina

Also known as the “Scaredy Cat Plant,”The smell from these plants is just as noxious to humans as it is to cats, so it’s not something that you want to bring indoors. If you’re trying to keep your cat out of your garden, though, you can plant a few of these along the outskirts to convince your cat that there are better places to play.

7. Rue

A strongly aromatic herb (also known asRue has a strong odor that is overwhelming to cats, so you only need to plant a few to discourage them from visiting. Fortunately, it’s not as foul-smelling as

8. Certain Cleaners

Any soap or household cleaner that has a strong odor is likely to be too much for your cat. Remember, their noses are much more sensitive than ours, so if it smells powerful to you, it’s probably complete overkill to your kitty.While you can certainly use this to your advantage, you also need to be careful about what you use to clean anything your cat uses, like their bowls or litterbox. If you use something too pungent, you may discourage them from using items that you actually want them to use.

9. Dirty Litter Box

This is another smell that you and your cat can agree on. If you let the litter box go too long between cleanings, the accumulated odor (especially the ammonia smell) can turn them off. That means that instead of using their box, they may find someplace less offensive to do their business — like your underwear drawer.Keeping your cat’s litter box clean doesn’t only make it more inviting for them, it’s also more hygienic. If you struggle to stay on top of this chore, consider switching to a self-cleaning model.

1. Certain Herbs

These include Rue, lavender, rosemary, mint, geranium, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, coleus and lemon thyme. The toxic herbs for cats include mint and lavender in oil form.

3. Banana

Experts believe it is most likely the potassium in bananas that cats can smell and which then puts them off bananas.

4. Pepper, Curry, Mustard and Cinnamon.

In general, cats don’t like spicy smells. They associate them with potential toxicity. So if you order a takeaway Indian meal don’t be surprised if you see very little of your cat in the kitchen for a while!

5. Pine, Cedar, Wintergreen and Menthol

I tend to associate all of these scents with cleaning products that I personally like but my cat very much doesn’t. A small hit of their scent will usually send a cat running.Wintergreen and menthol are toxic for cats.

6. A dirty litter box

If your cat’s litter box hasn’t been cleared or if has become full your cat will stop using it and find somewhere else to do its business.

7. Many household cleaners

You may have noticed that quite a few of the items in this list are aromas that are very pleasant to humans and are often associated with cleaning products.These scents plus the chemicals which are common in many household cleaners mean that your cat will not like most cleaning products that you use in your home.It is important to be sensitive to this when it comes to cleaning in your cats favourite areas and their key items. For example, I have been using baking soda at the bottom of my cat’s litter tray (I put the litter on top) in an effort to reduce smell without upsetting him.

8. Old Fish

Like their humans, cats hate the smell of anything that has gone out of date. And we all know how much fish can smell once it starts to go off. This is a smell that your cat hates as much as you do. Do try to make sure that your food rubbish is covered.

9. Soaps and Deoderants

Just as with cleaning products smells, cats also don’t like soaps and deodorants. They don’t like anything that has a chemical smell so don’t be surprised or offended if your cat leaves the room when you put on your deodorant.I have been told that cats don’t like perfume – and I have also been told that cats can love perfume – and often premium brands!So you may want to see what your kitty does and doesn’t like. But don’t spray perfume directly onto them.

10. Essential Oils

Due to their concentrated form cats tend to find the smell of essential oils far too strong for their sensitive little noses. They can have a severe reaction.Whilst they might not like the smell, just the aroma won’t hurt your cat. However, ingesting essential oil can definitely hurt your cat.

11. Eucalyptus

Bad news for our Australian readers in particular! Cats often dislike smells that are toxic to them – a natural form of protection. Eucalyptus can be harmful to cats.

12. Other Cats

Cats don’t like the smells of other cats that they don’t know. This is of course more about another cat coming into their territory – this is what they dislike rather than the cat’s particular aroma.An unknown cat smell in on their turf is something your kitty will definitely dislike.

13. Tomatoes and Onions

Onions can of course put off humans and/or make them cry. Tomatoes can often have a strong scent, particularly when still in the ground. Personally, I find it extremely pleasant but alas your cat won’t!⇒ Thinking about getting your favourite feline a new collar? Check out my posts on

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Cats may not be blessed with the sophisticated sniffers of their canine counterparts, but they’re still far better equipped to experience the world through their noses than us humans. In fact, researchers estimate a cat’s sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than ours, thanks to about 200 million super-powered scent receptors (1, 2).Some smells, like mice or catnip, attract cats, while others can be upsetting or even harmful. But both are evolutionary examples of how cats’ hypersensitive noses help them survive.“Cats use their sense of smell to help them feel more secure in their environment, detect potential predators or danger, find food, locate mates, and distinguish familiar from unfamiliar cats,” says Dr. Marci Koski, a certified cat behavior and training consultant based in Vancouver, Washington.Who knew there was so much to know about cat noses? But these aren’t just fascinating facts. Learning why a cat’s sense of smell is so powerful and what smells cats hate can actually help you be an even better pet parent.

Understanding a Cat’s Sense of Smell

Cats’ noses developed over time to help them navigate their world and keep them safe,” says Dr. Lindsay K. Merkel, an associate professor of small animal internal medicine at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Cats evolved behaviorally and developed their unique scent-processing anatomy in a way that was very different than humans, dogs, and other animals. Essentially, felines vacuum scents into their noses where specialized organs process them as either friend or foe (1).“Most of the scents that are considered unpalatable or unfriendly to cats are considered so because they’re associated with danger,” says Merkel. In particular, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—gases released into the air from a variety of products and processes—often serve as scent-based clues that tell cats to stay away from certain foods, substances, or plants (3, 4, 5).While some of the things cats hate to smell make perfect sense (like another cat’s urine marking their favorite spot), others might come as a surprise.

What Smells Do Cats Hate?

Here are the top seven things cats hate to smell, along with scientific explanations about why they might make a big stink about them.

1. Essential oils

While the soothing scents of many essential oils like tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus might be great for your self-care routine, kittens and cats may not share your enthusiasm (6). That’s because exposure to large amounts of essential oils can be distressing and even toxic for cats due to potentially hazardous VOCs. Cats’ aversion to these oils can quite literally save their lives, says Merkel.According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it’s time to turn off your diffuser and move a cat into fresh air if you notice your pet showing any of these warning signs: a watery nose, drooling, trouble breathing, and coughing. (Pheromone diffusers, on the other hand, can help calm cats.)

2. Citrus fruit

Other smells that cats don’t like include the strong, acidic scent of citrus. That’s because oils from citrus fruits like oranges, lime, lemon, and grapefruit are toxic to them (7, 8, 9, 10), says Koski. As many gardeners can tell you, citrus peels are a tried-and-true natural cat deterrent often scattered around plants to keep kitties out (11, 12).

3. Hot peppers

Capsaicin—the special molecule that gives chili peppers their pungency and spiciness (13)—is also associated with potentially toxic VOCs, says Merkel.As such, their scent can deter cats if there’s something you don’t want them to eat or an area you’d prefer they stay away from (like that houseplant potter they keep using as a restroom)! For this reason, capsaicin is often found in cat repellents (14, 15).

4. Herbs and plants

Carefully chosen greenery can also keep kitties away from certain areas, says Koski. In particular, cats hate the smell of rue, lavender, marigolds, pennyroyal, Coleus canina, and lemon thyme.So if you have a problem with curious kitties or strays in your yard, consider planting these specimens throughout your garden or along the edges of flowerbeds to serve as a natural cat deterrent (11, 14).

5. Vinegar

“Most cats despise the scent of vinegar,” says Koski. “It’s usually not toxic and can be used safely for cleaning or to deter cats.” (14)But pay attention to how your kitties respond to it. Sometimes, cleaning up cat urine with vinegar may actually compel a feline to urinate on top of the area again, presumably in an attempt to overpower the unwanted scent, she says.

6. Ground coffee

There’s a reason why you rarely have to worry about a kitten getting into your morning cup of joe. “Most cats do not enjoy the smell of coffee, which is a good thing because even just a small amount of caffeine can be toxic to cats,” says Koski. (16)Some people use coffee grounds to keep cats away from gardens and plants (14). But since cats could accidentally ingest coffee grounds on their paws or fur when grooming, other options would be safer, she notes.

7. A dirty litter box

Because cats are solitary beings who come together only to mate and raise young, their urine has scent markers or pheromones. These allow them to mark their territory and keep others from encroaching on their personal space, explains Merkel. “This can be good in the wild, but bad if your cat decides he or she needs to do this in your Manhattan loft,” she says.If your cat is sensitive to the scent of their own urine, or you have multiple cats and not enough boxes, your cat could start urinating in places like your bed or briefcase instead. Make sure you have at least one litter box for each cat and clean them daily, suggests Koski.