When it comes to picking up smells, cats are pretty phenomenal. While humans have 5 million smell receptors in their noses (known scientifically as olfactory receptors), cats have a whopping 45 – 80 million receptors. So, if they are smelling something delicious like catnip, they will be in seventh heaven. However, if they are smelling something they don’t like (which may or may not be toxic to them) the experience can be an unbearable one for them. Knowing what scents your cats hate can help you to be more mindful about what sprays, essential oils, and perfumes you use in your home. We encourage you to opt for flavors that won’t upset your beloved cat. So, let’s take a look at the top 10 smells that our feline friends hate and then, as an added bonus a quick peak at three smells they absolutely love. Because while it’s great to know what deters them, it’s also important to know how you can cheer them up and make their day.
Do Cats Hate Peppermint?
When it comes to mint, and we’re talking all kinds of mint from peppermint, to menthol. Mint serves as a deterrent to cats, and when sprayed, your cat will likely leave the room and escape to the nearest and safest hiding spot. While it might be closely related to catnip (which cats adore), when it comes to mint, cats are quickly repelled by the scent. Mint is also very toxic to cats when ingested, so it’s best to keep the plant away from them and to avoid spraying mint flavoured scents around your home. While a mint bush might be a good idea if you’re trying to deter stray cats and you could plant it around the perimeter of your home, this might still upset your own cat. So, it’s probably better to avoid mint if possible or to keep it contained to one area in your garden or home.
What About Lavender and Other Plans?
Lavender is another scent that cats seem to hate, and in certain forms, it can be highly toxic to them. While many adore the smell of lavender, our advice is to avoid using it if your fur-babies are around. When lavender in oil form is utilized to deter cats, it can become highly toxic and even lead to liver damage. This also applies to oils like eucalyptus oil. Our best advice is to not use any essential oils when your fur-baby is close by. The smell usually deters them (as they know it’s harmful) and it can cause them serious medical harm. It’s said that a reason why most cats hate the smell of plans it because they are carnivores. Thus, certain plant smells just don’t appeal to them or bring them much joy.
And a Big One, Dirty Litter Trays!
Cats are some of the most hygienic animals around, so you can be sure that a dirty litter tray that hasn’t been cleaned for days will certainly put them off. It’s super important that you change your cats litter box regularly because it’s a sacred space to them and one that should be clean and comfortable at all times. If their litter box is dirty and unhygienic, they might opt to do their business elsewhere, and this could cause hygiene issues throughout your entire home. A dirty litterbox will also create an unpleasant odor in your home and won’t make you or your family feel very cosy. Change the litterbox every few days to ensure it remains fresh and that your cat is a happy one. For a cat, their litter box is like a little sanctuary, and they might start behaving strangely and doing accidents around the house if it isn’t properly kept.
A Real Smelly One: Old Fish
While cats adore fish and a can of tuna might seriously brighten up their day, the smell of old fish can be a real deterrent. What’s more, is that it can be super toxic and poisonous if they consume it. If your cat eats rotten fish, they will most likely get very sick and could display symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If these symptoms persist, it’s imperative that you get them to a vet as soon as possible as they could become severely hydrated. You vet might give them a course of antibiotics or place them on a drip so as to restore their hydration levels. If fish doesn’t smell right to the human nose, it definitely isn’t okay for cats!
Always smell fish before feeding it to you cat and if you open a tin of tuna be sure to put it in a Tupperware before storing it in the fridge, as leaving it in the tin can also cause the build-up of toxicity. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, then you shouldn’t feed it you’re your kitty-cat.
While cats are usually totally relaxed around cats that they come into regular contact with, the smell of unknown cats can truly ruffle their feathers (or shall we see fur?) They might become agitated, stressed out, and annoyed and might begin to act in a strange manner. Since they are super territorial creatures, the prospect of a strange cat being on their property could cause some aggression. They might hiss and seem super stressed out. If your cat becomes super stressed out, try and get them inside and away from the strange cat. The last thing you want is for your beloved pet to get involved in a catfight and get injured.
If you want to deter strange cats, you could try planting a lavender bush, or mint plant around the perimeter of your home. However, since you also have a cat, you don’t want to deter them or make them feel uncomfortable in their own home. Also, be sure to keep your cat’s food securely in your home and away from potential stray cats who might be on the look-out for their next delicious meal. Keep an eye on your cat often and make sure that they aren’t being antagonized by strange cats who are roaming your property. Many cats roam at night, so keep a special eye out then.
They Also Seem to Dislike Citrus
While many humans enjoy the fresh smell of citrus and revel in the freshness of a zesty lemon, juicy orange, or refreshing lime, the opposite is true for cats. If you have an area of your garden that you don’t want your cat to go to (like a flower bush that you’ve spent hours lovingly creating), you could try and spritz some citrus juice in the area, or even scatter some citrus peels on the ground. If there is a couch that your cat loves to scratch and you want to deter their scratching, you could also spray some citrus on the material. Hopefully, this will keep their claws away from precious furniture like sofas, curtains, and rugs! If your cat is constantly pawing your lovely material items, ensure that you have a scratch post nearby so that they can always be entertained. A bored cat becomes a scratchy cat!
Cats Certainly Aren’t Bananas About Bananas
While human and monkeys might love to eat bananas (or to bake a delicious banana bread), cats are certainly not the same and will often actively avoid them. If you want to deter your cat from certain spots, try leaving a banana peel in the area, or rubbing some of the banana peel on the furniture piece in question. However, this will also make your home smell like bananas, and there is nothing quite as unsightly as an old, mouldy banana peel. Be sure to change the peels regularly, and don’t forget them on your couch before your guests arrive!
Spicy Foods like Pepper
Cats will often shy away from very spicy foods and scents like cayenne pepper or other spices. Although they aren’t technically toxic to your furry friend, their bodies perceive them as being dangerous and toxic, and thus they will keep their distance from these ingredients. While it’s okay to use the ingredients around your home, be mindful that your cat won’t be a fan of them.
Harsh Cleaning Agents
While it’s important to clean you home thoroughly for hygiene purposes and when it comes to cleaning your cat’s litter tray and food bowls, harsh cleaning agents can, in fact, cause more harm than good and can be really unpleasant to your cat. Try to opt for neutral scents that won’t overpower you cat or upset them. While labels such as ‘floral,’ ‘lavender,’ and ‘vanilla mist’ might sound pleasant to us, they can be very harsh on your cat. Remember, their sense of smell is so much more powerful than ours and what might be pleasant to us, can, in fact, be unbearable to them. In the areas where you keep their food, water, and litter tray try to avoid powerful scents and flavors, and opt for neutral products, or environmentally friendly ones that are made from natural ingredients.
While you might adore your latest perfume and want to spritz it all over yourself, your cat might not be so impressed. If you intend on an evening of snuggling your cat, it might be best to avoid those heavy scents as they can be pretty unbearable to your furry friend. If they don’t like a smell, they will certainly keep their distance from you.
So now we know what you cats don’t like, lets have a quick look at some of their absolute favorite smells. As much as it’s important to know what smells will deter your cat, or possibly harm them, it’s also a great idea to know what you can use to attract them. Some of their favorite smells include:
- Catnip: Known officially as Nepita Cataria, this plant is possible a cat’s favorite thing. It has a narcotic effect on felines and makes them feel playful. After smelling catnip, they will often be super playful, their minds will be engaged, and they will rub against the catnip, lick it, or even eat it. This is a great treat for them and will bring them hours of absolute delight. This is a great way to reward your cat or cheer them up if they seem down. For a wider selection of choices, check out our catnip toys and treats guide.
- Green olives: Some cats seem to totally adore the smell of green olives.
- The human they love: Of course you’re going to be one of their favorite smells. You are their source of love, comfort, food, and protection! They will show you just how much they love you by snuggling up to you on a cold night, purring when you’re near, or even by smelling or curling up in your belongings when you aren’t around.