What Smells Do Cats Hate?

What Smells Do Cats Hate? Cats are incredible creatures! They can be active and playful. Plus, their sense of smell is remarkable. Certain smells may bother cats, making them agitated or scared. Knowing what smells cats hate is key to keeping them safe.

Most cats don’t like pen sprays, mothballs, perfumes, and plants. Also, strong cleaning products like bleach and ammonia are disliked. Peppermint, citrus peels, eucalyptus oil, and vinegar are particularly reviled by cats. Furthermore, the smell of urine or vomit from other animals can be off-putting for cats.

It is vital to be aware of what smells cats hate. This knowledge can be used to your advantage. For instance, you can use scent deterrents on objects you don’t want your cat to mess with. Also, you can use treats when introducing a new smell. This makes it more pleasant and helps cats to experience different scents.

The Sense of Smell in Cats

Cats depend a lot on their sense of smell. They can sense smells humans can’t. Some smells really make cats mad. Let’s look at cats’ sense of smell and what smells they don’t like:

Anatomy of the Cat Nose

Cats have been fascinating people for centuries with their sense of smell. Let’s explore their anatomy to learn more about smells they can detect and why.

Their noses are complexly designed, with teams of smell receptors in the roof of their nasal cavity called primary olfactory epithelium. They also have secondary olfactory tissues and a scent organ called the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ.

Each cat has its own nose print like a finger print, consisting of ridges, ridged furrows and depigmented areas on the nose pad. It determines their sensitivity to odors and what they prefer to smell.

Kittens can even distinguish scents from their mother’s milk before they are born.

The sense of smell helps cats recognize other animals by identifying their unique combination of sweat and pheromone odors, aiding them to navigate familiar territory. Cats also use scent for communication through urine marking and courtship displays. This leads to a very advanced system which allows cats to experience our world differently, so don’t be surprised if they avoid certain smells they don’t like!

How Cats Use Smell

Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell. It helps them find food, express emotion, and interact with the world around them. They have a more developed sense of smell than humans. This gives them an advantage when it comes to identification and navigation.

The vomeronasal organ in their mouths helps them detect pheromones produced by other cats or prey animals. Cats use scent glands on their face, lips, neck, chin, and base tail to leave olfactory messages.

Smell helps cats thrive in the wild. But, it can also cause discomfort. Strong odors, like vinegar or citronella oil, can irritate their nasal passageways. Minty aromas may be unpleasant too, as they release menthol vapors which cats are more sensitive to than humans. This can cause an intense burning sensation.

Smells Cats Hate

Furniture protection and nice smells? Cats hate certain scents. Discover which! We’ll explore the odours cats hate and why. Avoiding these smells is key!

Citrus Scents

It’s widely known that cats have an unbelievably sensitive sense of smell. Although they usually take pleasure from sweet, fragrant smells, they often detest strong odors. One odor they despise most is citrus.

Items with a citrusy aroma include:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Facial cleansers
  • Beauty products (e.g. lotions, soaps)
  • Carpets cleaned with citrus-based cleaning solutions
  • Air fresheners with a strong lemon scent

These smells can be too intense for cats, making them feel uncomfortable or stressed.

If you want to create a pleasant atmosphere for your cat, try using natural scents derived from herbs like lavender or chamomile. Also, avoid citrus oils when making DIY recipes for natural bug repellents for cats. These could irritate their fur and eyes.

Strong Odors

Most cats don’t like strong smells. Smells they don’t like can be from air fresheners, perfumes, and certain foods. Here’s a list of smells cats may find offensive or even dangerous:

  • Aromatic candles: These have essential oils and synthetic fragrances. Volatile compounds can irritate cats’ respiratory systems. Avoid these around cats.
  • Perfume & cologne: Popular brands can have phthalates and synthetic fragrances. Cats’ sense of smell can be affected. Pick non-aerosol sprays or non-toxic natural alternatives.
  • Strong spices: Garlic, onion, and pepper can seem overpowering to cats. Best to avoid using them when cooking near cats.
  • Cigarette smoke: High levels of carbon monoxide. Toxic for cats and humans. Inhalation can lead to health issues. If you are a smoker, take steps to ensure your pet’s safety.

Peppermint and Menthol

Cats have super sensitive noses that they use to explore their environment. Some smells can be unpleasant, even offensive, to cats. Common smells cats don’t like to include peppermint, menthol, citrus, vinegar, and perfumes.

  • Peppermint & Menthol: Cat deterrent sprays often contain these oils. Cats react differently – some may like the smell, others find it too strong.
  • Citrus: The sour aroma of these scents is a powerful deterrent for cats. So strong, it can overpower other smells.
  • Vinegar: This acrid smell lingers for a long time, repelling cats from areas you don’t want them entering. However, if your cat gets used to it, it won’t work.
  • Perfume: Cats’ noses are very refined, meaning they can detect even the faintest of smells. Synthetic fragrances like perfumes and air fresheners are too overwhelming for cats, making them a great choice to keep unwanted visitors away.

Acetic Acid

Cats have an incredible sense of smell that can detect scents from over a mile away. They use their noses to identify friends and foes, detect danger, and mark their territories. Unfortunately, cats do not like the smell of Acetic Acid, found in products such as vinegar. This smell is reminiscent of feline urine and can cause cats to avoid or even harm items containing acetic acid. It’s essential to note that even though these items are safe for humans, they should be used sparingly around cats or kept away from them.

Common items with Acetic Acid include:

  • White vinegar
  • Cleaning solutions and window cleaners
  • Soy sauce
  • Citrus juice & oils
  • Pickled and fermented foods
  • Garlic & onion powder/juices/vinegars
  • Processed cheese spreads/tortilla chips/pizza crusts with vinegar flavoring
  • Kombucha sodas

Smells Cats Like

Cats have a special sense of smell. So, it isn’t just a case of finding smells cats don’t like. There are plenty of scents cats enjoy. Let’s look at some of them. They can help calm their sometimes-fussy temperaments.


Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a minty herb that has a special effect on cats. Its active ingredient, nepetalactone, can make cats mellow or super excited. Some cats can be overwhelmed by the smell of catnip!

But not all cats react to catnip. Experts say only half of cats are affected by its unique scent. Young cats are more likely to respond.

If your feline isn’t into catnip, don’t worry. There are other smells cats love.

  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Chamomile
  • Citrus
  • Peppermint
  • Mint

are all popular with cats. Tailor your cat’s environment with these scents, and they’ll be sure to enjoy it.

Valerian Root

Valerian root, in the honeysuckle family, is known for its pungent smell. Cats may love it or hate it. You may have seen valerian advertised as “Catnip Alternatives” or “Feline Aromatherapy”.

While some cats loathe the smell, others may be attracted to it. According to holistic vets, valerian root can sedate and calm cats, even reducing their anxiety when used regularly. It won’t get cats high like catnip, but still provides a pleasant smell. If you want something that appeals to your cat’s nose without the mess of catnip, valerian root is worth considering!


Cats don’t get the pleasure of smelling flowers like we do. But, smells still affect them. Catnip and valerian root are calming scents cats enjoy. There is one scent cats can’t stand: lavender.

Lavender’s essential oil and plant repel cats. It makes cats agitated. They may excessively groom, tremble, or hide. Lavender oil is dangerous for cats too. It can damage their livers.

The reaction varies. It depends on the cat’s sensitivity and past experience with the smell. If it had a bad time with a herbaceous smell, it will be more anxious when exposed to it again. To keep your cat safe, avoid using products with lavender scents.


Cats have sensitive noses and do not like strong or new smells. Which aromas they don’t like varies per cat, but there are some common ones. Citrus and apple scents, eucalyptus, lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, garlic, and vinegar tend to repel cats. Not all cats respond the same, but understanding feline sensitivities can help owners handle conflicts at home.