While it’s a given that cats have a strong sense of smell, it’s the scents they hate can be surprising. So what smells do cats hate the most? Topping our list is citrus, followed by mint, household cleaners, spicy peppers, and more. These odors must be avoided since most contain toxic chemicals that will compromise a feline’s health.
Let’s discuss these scents and why cats dislike it of all the odors they can sniff. As a responsible pet parent, we need to know which ones cats dislike and which ones are actually toxic.
Cats notoriously hate the scent of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, etc). It sends their olfactory nerves reeling due to the overwhelming odor. Since they have a stronger sense of smell than humans, cats sense any odor about 14 times than that of humans. Just imagine sniffing the scent of pure citrus oil, and you’ll surely cough and tear up. Please read here why does my cats breath smell so bad.
While cats react negatively to citrus fruits, they hate oranges in particular. This reaction is for a good reason, too. Citrus plants are toxic to cats, which their sense of smell pretty knows.
So if your cat keeps on toppling the Christmas tree down, you can make a ‘force field’ of oranges around it to stop the kitty on its tracks.
2. Fresh mint
Another scent that cats hate the most is fresh mint. Like citrus, the mint scent is overpowering; the same goes for eucalyptus and similar plants. You should also remember that mint and similar plants are toxic to cats.
The menthol scent of mint irritates the nose of the feline. Even if it’s fresh mint leaves or a mint ointment, your cat will detest it just the same.
You should keep mint plants away from your cat. Aside from the fact that the cat hates it, they might become playful and ingest a leaf.
Pine is also one of the smells that cats hate the most. You should be careful because some litter has a pine scent, which may force your kitty not to use it. Pine also has a strong smell on which cats don’t gravitate much.
Aside from pine, cats also hate the scent of cedar. It has a sharp, woodsy odor that doesn’t sit well on the sniffers of a cat. You may notice your cat avoiding some spots in your garden with cedar enclosures or fences.
This one may surprise you, but yes, cats hate the smell of banana. It’s tasty and healthy, but cats don’t seem to like this fruit. Some suggest that it could be due to bananas’ high potassium content that stops the kitty on its tracks. This scent is similar to the odor of medications containing potassium chloride. And if you’ve recently given your cat such medication, its hate for banana figures.
If you have a spot in your garden or yard that you don’t want your cat to touch, you can rub a banana peel on it. However, make sure that the surface isn’t slippery to prevent accidents.
5. Spicy peppers
Don’t we all hate sniffing strong and spicy pepper? Cats hate spicy peppers because it really irritates their noses. This is the same reason why cats will not touch heavily seasoned food, no matter how hungry they could be. Aside from spicy peppers, cats also seem to hate mustard and curry due to the strong odor. While it’s appealing for us, it’s different for cats.
Aside from that, the cat’s nose can sense that something is toxic. If you’re making homemade cat food, you should avoid using too many spices, especially peppers.
6. Some essential oils
Lavender, lemon, and pennyroyal essential oils are not appealing to cats. Basically, cats hate all mint essential oils since it’s concentrated and will easily irritate their nose.
Aside from the fact that cats hate the smell, many essential oils are not safe for felines. Some essential oils are harmful to cats, with some exceptions like coconut oil and jojoba oil. Learn here what essential oils to deter cats from peeing
However, if you’re using aromatic essential oils, you should consult your cat’s vet first. The last thing you’d want is poisoning and an emergency trip to the vet.
7. Dirty litter box
Well, who wouldn’t hate a dirty litter box, anyway? The smell of poo and pee are repulsive, and your cat will stay away until you scoop it out. If you have multiple cats at home, you may notice one kitty refusing to use the box. You should take a look and clean up right away to prevent accidents at home
The litter box is clean, but my cat hates it still! The smell of the litter might be the culprit. Some commercially available litter refills have pine or even cedar materials, which cats hate.
Moreover, you should change the litter box after one to two years. Sometimes, the dirt will stick to the scratches and corners of the box. It will retain the bad smell, which you and your cat will hate.
8. Cleaning products
This one doesn’t need further explanation because cleaning products are abrasive. Aside from the scent that your cat hates, physical contact with the chemical will cause severe irritations.
Cat’s noses are sensitive to toxic chemicals. Aside from that, they will also hate air fresheners and some soaps that you use at home. Most cats will avoid areas where these products have been used, which can both be beneficial and not.
If you have cleaning chemicals at home, make sure that you place it someplace where the kids and pets won’t access.
9. Spoiled fish
We and cats will agree that the smell of spoiled or rotten fish is repulsive on so many levels. It will make humans nauseous, what more a cat with very strong senses. Aside from that, you should never feed your cat bad fish because it will make the kitty sick. Please read here can cats eat fish skin
Anything that is out of date will develop a bad smell, which cats and humans will hate. This applies to any food, especially cat food and treats.
10. The scent of a new cat
Lastly, cats hate the scent of a new cat. This is evident when you bring home a new kitty. Your resident cat will try to fight off the kitten because its scent is foreign and a threat to the feline’s territory.
As you know, cats navigate and recognize beings through each one’s unique scent. Even our cats don’t really remember us through our faces alone. They know our unique scent that they can pick up even if we’re wearing perfume or just had a bath.
Beware, though, because resident cats will start to spray around when it picks up a new cat’s smell. This is an effort to reclaim its territory and to tell the kitty who the boss is.
Scents that deter cats from peeing
Many pet owners use different scents to discourage their cats from spraying or peeing on specific spots. Take note that just because a cat hates a certain smell doesn’t mean you can use it to ward them off.
For example, cats hate the smell of spicy pepper, but it’s a no-no to sprinkle pepper anywhere. Your cat may step on it and, in turn, lick their paw.
If your cat is spraying to mark its territory, you can use a feline facial pheromone spray to calm down the kitty. This spray contains a special scent undetectable by the human nose. It helps ease a cat’s stress, which triggers accidents, spraying, and more. Learn here why does my cat bite my nose
However, if your cat tends to have accidents quite often, you should bring it to the vet for a check-up. Your cat might be suffering from incontinence or other potential health problems.
What smells do cats hate the most? It could be citrus scents, a dirty litter box, essential oils, and more. You should keep all of these away from your cat. Aside from your cat hating it, most of these scents are toxic or harmful to felines. Caution is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in your home.
For any scents that aren’t toxic to cats, you may be able to use them as a cat repellent.
Where there any scents that you were surprised were on this list or didn’t make this list? Other note worthy scents that make cats turn their noses are tea tree, perfume, and very aromatic human food.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.