List of Smells and Scents Your Cat Hates and Loves the Most

List of Smells Your Cat Hates the Most

Like most animals, cats have a very powerful sense of smell. Domestic cats, for example, have a sense of smell that’s between 9 and 16 times more powerful than humans. This means that they experience certain smells or odors differently thanks to the 45-200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses. Compared to humans who have only 5 million, that’s a lot.

That sense of smell is put to good use. Cats rely on it to notice things when they’re exploring their environments. They can detect smells we can’t, even if they’re far away.

Did you know that cats have two noses? They have a nose just like we do that houses scent receptors. On top of that, they have a vomeronasal organ on the top of their mouth roofs which that picks up pheromones.

Due to the powerful sense of smell, cats can detect scents much easier than us. There are many of those scents they hate – some simply smell bad for them, while other scents are harmful for felines. Understanding which scents are dangerous is widely important for cat owners, as they can have a detrimental effect on your cat’s health.

Why Is Their Sense of Smell So Powerful?

The sense of smell plays a key role in the life of a cat. Thanks to millions of receptors in their nose and the second nose organ, they can sniff prey from miles away. You know how cats like to mark their territory? Well, we can rarely smell the ‘mark’, but other cats know it from a distance. Cats rely on their sense of smell much more than we do.

Cats use butt-sniffing as a way to recognize potential mating partners. When it’s time to mate, female cats will use their powerful pheromones that males can detect from afar.

Finally, cats use their sense of smell to detect unwanted aromas on them which they later with grooming. The millions of receptors in a cat’s nose are not there for show. As a matter of fact, the sense of smell plays a massive role in a cat’s life.

Understanding Which Smells Cats Hate Is Key to Understanding Them

As a cat owner, you need to learn which smells your cat loves and hates. This can be very helpful in understanding their behavior. For example, if a cat loves going to certain spots in your garden, a few specific herbs can deter it from visiting that section so often.

If it scratches your furniture, certain scents can put them off doing this naturally. In this way, you’ll avoid using those cat repellents that are full of chemicals and dangerous for your kitty.

Understanding which scents your cat hates is also important. For example, cats don’t like lavender, so lavender-scented products are a big no-no. Using essential oils to put your cat off certain things is forbidden too – many of these oils are toxic to cats.

List of Smells Cats Hate


Let’s start with the most unusual one – banana. To humans, the tropical fruit smells lovely and sweet. To cats, however, bananas smell bad and it’s all due to the high potassium content.

Pepper, Mustard, and Curry

Cats hate spicy smells which means they avoid mustard, curry, and pepper. Notice how your cat stays away from the Indian takeout meal you ordered? That’s because of the potent spices.


Cats hate cinnamon. It may be a great addition to your tea or latte, but they simply can’t stand the smell. Sprinkling cinnamon in spaces your cats frequent, but shouldn’t, is a great ide to deter them.


Menthol and wintergreen are toxic to cats, so they will stay away from both. We love those smells, but cats associate them with toxicity and try to stay away.

Pine and Cedar

Pine and cedar are two more great scents added to cleaning products, but cats hate them. Even a whiff of these scents is enough to send them running.

Citrus Smells

Orange peels, lemon juice, and lemon zest are on the no-no list for cats. You can use them strategically to keep your cat away from certain areas like the kitchen.

Household Cleaners

Many of the scents humans love are toxic and unpleasant for cats. The majority of household cleaners are scented, and while they smell great to us, cats hate them. It’s not about the scents only – cats hate the smell of chemicals too. You should keep these in mind when you’re cleaning your cat’s items. Whenever you plan to clean the litter tray, your cat’s bed, or clothes and toys, you’re better off using baking soda.

Dirty Litter Box

If your cat’s litter box is dirty, they won’t go in it. In this case, your cat will do its business in another spot. Keep this in mind when the litter box is full.

Smells Your Cat Loves

We all know that cats love catnip, but there are other scents that are pleasant for them too. Valerian root is also pleasant to cats, as is olive leaves. They have somewhat of a narcotic effect on felines. Of course, cats also love the smell of their owners. Have you noticed how they run all over your clothes and where you sit all day? That’s because that smell is familiar and particularly pleasing for them.

Cats love chamomile too, as well as certain flowers and fruits. Be careful letting your cat around them, though – lilies are toxic for them. When it comes to fruits, you can relax – most fruits are great for cats and other animals too. You can give them a piece of almost all fruits if they like it – it’ll be as great for your health as it is for you.

Surprisingly, cats are addicted to honeysuckles. Experts don’t know why, but they love it. You can keep the plant at home, but don’t let your cat eat it. It’s toxic to them.

Now that you know which smells cats love and which ones they hate, you can use that to your advantage wisely.

Make Your Own Cat Deterrent and Keep Your Cats Out of Specific Areas