6 Smells Your Cat Absolutely Hates


Cat’s have an incredible sense of smell. So much so that the primary way a feline identifies people and objects is actually through scent. Kitties have up to 200 million sensors in their noses, whereas humans have a mere 5 million in comparison. That makes a cat’s sense of smell around 14 times better than ours!  

This might explain how they can smell their cat food from the grocery bag or cupboard and how they can instantly tell if you've been around another animal outside your home. Cats will sniff anything new that you bring into the house and remember that scent to understand and identify it again. 

But with a super sense also comes sensitivity. As we all know not every scent is "pleasant" but for a cat with a heightened sense of smell, there are certainly some scents that they'd consider repulsive or overbearing. Check out some of the following smells that your cat probably finds to be too much to handle!

1.Citrus Fruits 

cat dislike the scent of oranges, orange slices cut up on a cutting board

Cats find the smell of citrus fruits horrid, in particular, oranges and bitter apples. As citrus is usually a pleasant scent for us humans, we can use this to our advantage by using the smell to keep our fur babies away from where they shouldn’t be. 

Citrus fruits are not toxic to cats but can definitely be effective at controlling where they roam. So, if your kitty keeps jumping up onto your kitchen counters, you can create and use a DIY cat deterrent spray with fresh lemon or orange. Use it sparingly though, too much of it around the house can end up creating an unpleasant home environment for your kitty.

2.Lavender (and other floral scents) 

Lavender plant with a bumble bee on top, cats dislike the scent of lavender

Some floral scents, such as lavender, are actually displeasing to felines. Other plants such as geranium and eucalyptus give off a similar unpleasant odor to cats as well. These plants ARE toxic to kitties if ingested, so they should be kept away from your fur baby and not used as a deterrent around your home. Moreover, if you use lavender scented products and essential oils in the home, you could be upsetting your fur baby as it becomes a smell they can't seem to escape.  

3.Mint and Menthol 

Mint or peppermint hard candies in a dish, cat dislike the scent of mint or peppermint or menthol

Cats also detest minty smells, so they do not appreciate when you cuddle and breathe on them just after brushing your teeth! It can also be irritating for their noses if they inhale mint or menthol, so be sure not to leave something of the sort out and about. Although these are non-toxic, ingesting mint could cause vomiting or diarrhea as it's not something your cat can handle in excess. 


Pine needles with a small glass bottle in the center, cats dislike the scent of pine

Cats are usually put off by pine’s smell, making pine cat litter a not so great choice for many kitties. In fact, when it comes to cat litter, the vast majority of cats usually prefer it unscented. 

Even though lemon and apple-scented litter can help mask the foul odors of a litter box, your kitty may see the scented litter as repulsive and it can affect their bathroom habits and usage.  

5.Their Waste 

Pine cat litter in a red litter box with a scoop in it, cats dislike the scent of pine and they dislike the scent of their own waste

The most apparent smell that cats hate is the smell of pee and poop, either their own or someone else’s. Unsurprisingly, they find the scent of their waste just as disgusting as we pet owners do. Therefore, just as we don’t like to use a dirty toilet, neither do our feline friends. You'll often notice that your cat will bury their waste after using the bathroom in a partial attempt to mask the scent. 

To give your kitty the care and respect they deserve, ensure that you keep their litter box as clean as possible. You should preferably scoop twice a day and then empty and thoroughly clean the litter box once a week.  

That being said, keeping the litter box clean is not always easy to do with a busy schedule. This is why the routine cleaning of an automatic litter box like the AutoEgg can make life a whole lot easier for you and more pleasant for your kitty and their sensitive noses.  

6.Other Animals 

A grey and black tabby cat in the center of the picture looking mean and angry, cats dislike the scent of other cats and animals

If you notice your fur baby sniffing around outside more than usual, it’s probably because another animal has passed through your yard or garden. Cats are not particularly fond of the scent of a stranger, whether that be another animal or even another cat!  

The scent of other cats in and outside your home can become problematic for you as well. Cats are territorial by nature, and aggressive territorial behavior is more potent in cats that haven't been neutered. Some male cats will spray around the house to mark their territory if they smell another cat. 

Which Smells Do Cats Love? 

Dry cat food scattered on the floor and in a red bowl, cats like the scent of cat food and of chicken and tuna

So are there smells that our cats love or is it all just animosity? Although fish and chicken are obvious favorites for your kitty as they're an important part of their diet, cats find the smell of most foods to be appealing. As their parent, you will know what your fur baby’s favorite food scents are. My kitties go absolutely crazy at the smell of coconut or peanut butter! 

There are also a select group of flowers that cats like the smell of, such as roses, daisies, and lilies. While it can be cute to see your kitty smelling the flowers outside, remember that many plants are toxic to felines, so ensure your cat does not gnaw or eat them.  

Which Smells Are Calming For Cats? 

Cat sniffing spilled catnip off of a hardwood floor, cats like the scent of catnip as it relaxes them

Scents can have powerful properties. In humans, scents have the power to relax us, energize us, and even evoke emotions. Unsurprisingly, some scents can have similar effects on our feline friends. 

Catnip contains an essential oil called Nepetalactone. This is what attracts your kitty to it and what causes them to become super playful initially, and then calm down and get very sleepy. Using the smell of catnip can help to relax a cat that is stressed or anxious.   

There are also commercial cat calming sprays that use pheromones to make cats feel calm, safe, and at ease. These sprays mimic the pheromones released from a mother cat to her kittens. This is said to relax cats suffering from anxiety, so these products can help in situations that can cause feline stress, such as moving or vet visits.  

Final Thoughts 

Once you know the smells your cat detests, you'll have a clearer understanding as to which scents may be triggers that can upset your kitty. If you're using deterrents for training purposes be sure to use them conservatively and only on items or in locations where your cat has consistently gotten into the trouble. 

Helping to balance the use of unpleasant scents with calming ones that you cat will appreciate is a fantastic way to use scents to your advantage when training and caring for your cat!