What Smell Do Cats Hate?

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.

What smells do cats stay away from?

As a general rule, cats are sensitive when it comes to smells, but there are a few scents they hate that might just surprise you. They can’t stand citrus and as much as you might love the smell of fresh herbs, cats hate rosemary and thyme. Banana and mustard are a big no-no too, as well as lavender and eucalyptus.

What smells do cats hate most?

Essential oils. ….Citrus fruit. ….Hot peppers. ….Herbs and plants. ….Vinegar. ….Ground coffee. ….A dirty litter box.

What smells are toxic to cats?

Cinnamon oil..Citrus oil..Clove oil..Eucalyptus oil..Oil of Sweet Birch..Pennyroyal oil..Peppermint oil..Pine oils.

Do cats dislike the smell of vinegar?

While the scent of vinegar is not a problem for them physically, they just don’t like it. Because of that, vinegar can serve as a natural deterrent if there’s an area you’d like your cats to avoid. When diluted, the smell is much fainter, and vinegar can be a great tool for cleaning without chemicals.

The problem with using many commercially manufactured cat repellents is that they may contain chemicals that could harm cats over time. Cats are curious creatures and its in their nature to explore and its not fair to punish them for it. Natural cat repellents will deter cats without causing any long-term damage.

In addition, citrus based fruit peels such as orange and lemon will also help; however, they will biodegrade quickly. While there are more effective ways to discourage cats away from off-limit areas, many of them could cause physical or psychological problems.

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.

Did you know there are smells that cats hate? Cats have very sensitive noses, and even a slightly unpleasant smell can cause them to recoil in distaste. Also, remember that cats do not like the same smells that people do, so while you might really love that expensive perfume that you bought at the local boutique, your cat’s sensitive nose might not be able to handle your intense scent.

Some varieties of produce, such as tomatoes and onions , can send your cat’s olfactory system reeling. Mint is another naturally occurring scent that cats avoid in all of its forms including menthol.

Aside from most being toxic if ingested, cats do not like the odor from common household cleani ng chemicals. Cats noses are very sensitive, but with a little forethought, you can make your house a pleasant olfactory experience for the both of you. Remember that your cat is close to the ground, so avoid using strong smelling chemicals to clean the floors.

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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.

What’s the best natural cat repellent?

The problem with using many commercially manufactured cat repellents is that they may contain chemicals that could harm cats over time. Cats are curious creatures and it’s in their nature to explore and it’s not fair to punish them for it. Natural cat repellents will deter cats without causing any long-term damage.

Outdoor Repellents

Netting or fencing off garden plants will prevent cats from accessing them; however, they can be an eyesore and are certainly not for everybody. If you don’t want to take this approach try placing gravel or pine cones around your plants. Cats hate the texture of these substances and won’t dare to go near your plants if they cover the pathway.Plant coleus canina, lavender or rue if you’d like to take a more earthly approach. These plants are known for repelling cats due to their strong scents. In addition, citrus based fruit peels such as orange and lemon will also help; however, they will biodegrade quickly.

Indoor Repellents

Place aluminum foil or double-sided sticky tape on restricted areas of your carpet or furniture. Cats hate the texture and the way it feels on their paws. While you probably won’t want to foil or tape there permanently, over time your cat will get used to not using that particular area and you should be able to remove them.If you have kittens, baby or pet gates could stop them from wondering upstairs or accessing certain rooms. However, cats are pretty good jumpers, so this probably won’t work when they get a little older.

Scent Repellents

Cats have 40 times the odor sensitivity of humans and are able to smell scents for days or even weeks after the scent producing chemical has disappeared. Luckily, cats hate many smells that are pleasant for humans.Place natural oils – citronella, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass – in restricted areas. Make a homemade solution by mixing one part oil with three parts water, and spray it around your home. The scents will disappear after a few hours, but cats will be able to smell them for a long time afterwards.

Water

Water is one of the best natural repellents around. Cats dislike water, so if you catch your cat approaching an area that’s restricted, give him a little spray. Do this a few times and he’ll stop returning to that particular areaFor outdoor areas, you can purchase sprinklers which are attached to a motion sensor. These machines will spray cats that enter your garden with a gentle blast, which will discourage them from coming back.

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.

Smells Cats Hate

Did you know there are smells that cats hate? Cats have very sensitive noses, and even a slightly unpleasant smell can cause them to recoil in distaste. Also, remember that cats do not like the same smells that people do, so while you might really love that expensive perfume that you bought at the local boutique, your cat’s sensitive nose might not be able to handle your intense scent.

The Litter Box

Perhaps one of the smells that cats hate the most is a dirty litter box. If your litter box hasn’t been cleaned in a while, your cat might rebel and start using the restroom in another place that is less appropriate. Make sure that the litter box is clean if you want your cat to use it!

Other Cats

While cats don’t necessarily mind the smell of cats they are familiar with, the smell of a new cat in the household can send your feline into a tizzy. Worse yet, the “new cat smell” can cause your original cat to spray the house. That’s a smell no one likes!

Bad Fish

While cats and people are very different, one thing they can agree on is that the smell of bad fish is unpleasant. Do not try to feed your cat fish – or any other meat for that matter – that has spoiled. He won’t like it, and even if you do manage to get him to eat it, it might make him sick.

Cats Don’t Like Bananas

Cats really dislike the smell of bananas and it may be due to the potassium in bananas. It can mimic the smell of medications made with potassium chloride. Try rubbing banana peels on furniture that you want them to stay away from.

Citrus Fruits

Another type of fruity smell that cats hate is any type of citrus fruit. In fact, one way to keep cats out of certain places is to spray a citrus spray around the area to discourage their presence!

Fresh Mint

Mint is another naturally occurring scent that cats avoid in all of its forms including menthol. Cats can find inhaling this scent very irritating to their noses. Mint can also be toxic to cats although a cat has to eat quite a lot of it to become ill.

Household Cleaners

Aside from most being toxic if ingested, cats do not like the odor from common household cleaning chemicals. This includes soaps and air fresheners. The chemicals in these cleaners are too much for your cat’s sensitive nose and he will avoid areas where they have been sprayed. This is why it’s important to use gentle cleaners for your cat’s litter box.

Spicy Peppers

Cats are not fans of spicy food or scents, so anything with a “kick” to it will not please your kitty. Peppers in fresh and ground form are avoided by cats. Cats can eat sweeter varieties of peppers though like bell peppers.

The Smell of Lavendar

A cat’s sensitive sense of smell is irritated by many floral scents. Lavender, while lovely to humans, is very unappealing to cats. You can use it as a deterrent but be careful as too much lavender can be toxic for cats.