USA

Good to know: what smells do cats hate?

When it comes to their sense of smell, cats can definitely look down their noses at humans. About 60 million olfactory cells help our feline friends navigate their way around the environment. But this also means that cats are that much more sensitive when it comes strong odors.

Here are the smells that cats don't like.

1. Perfumes, scented candles, and household cleaners

Intense perfumes and room fragrances are anything but attractive to cats.
Intense perfumes and room fragrances are anything but attractive to cats.  © Unsplash/Charisse Kenion

Cats will turn their noses up at particularly intense smells.

These include perfumes, household cleaners, and the essences which are used in aroma diffusers.

While these might be pleasant and soothing to us, house cats sense them much more acutely.

So the old motto applies perfectly here: less is more.

As far as household cleaners are concerned, it's worth looking for a milder product, preferably an unscented one.

Alternatively, you should put your cat in another room while cleaning a space and wait until the smells dissipated.

2. Citrus scents and vinegar

Citrus fruit and vinegar will make a cat wrinkle its sensitive nose.
Citrus fruit and vinegar will make a cat wrinkle its sensitive nose.  © Unsplash/freestocks

On the subject of cleaning products, many people are increasingly turning to environmentally friendly vinegar and lemon-based cleaners.

But cats unfortunately hate these smells just as much.

Oranges, lemons, vinegar, and even onions are natural feline repellents.

This can be a secret weapon for keeping cats away from certain surfaces or individual rooms.

After using citrus fruit or vinegar for cleaning, you should thoroughly air the room to avoid irritating the cat's sensitive nose.

3. Tree oil or eucalyptus-based cold medicine

Cold medicine based on essential oils will have an off-putting effect on cats.
Cold medicine based on essential oils will have an off-putting effect on cats.  © Unsplash/Christin Hume

Balms and ointments are great for fighting a cold.

They typically contain essential oils extracted from tea trees, peppermint, or eucalyptus.

If you rub these products on yourself, you shouldn't be surprised that cats give you a wide berth.

Aside from the intense smell, which cats don't like, these oils are also poisonous.

This makes it all the more important to keep your four-legged friend away from common cold remedies.

4. Cigarette smoke

Cats can suffer serious health complications from inhaling second-hand smoke.
Cats can suffer serious health complications from inhaling second-hand smoke.  © Unsplash/Sara Kurfeß

Smoking is bad for everyone. That doesn't just include yourself or and those around you – in the case of indoor smokers, pets such as dogs or cats also suffer.

The acrid cigarette smoke is not just unpleasant for the susceptible noses of animals, it can also cause them serious damage.

It's less well known that constant exposure to second-hand smoke can also lead to nose cancer and lung cancer in cats.

So if you're a smoker, light your cigarette outside and shut the door! Don't smoke out the window, as smoke can always waft in and potentially harm your pets.

5. Typical kitchen smells

Garlic and onion smells usually send cats sprinting away from the kitchen.
Garlic and onion smells usually send cats sprinting away from the kitchen.  © Unsplash/James Kern

When it comes to kitchen smells, every cat reacts a little differently.

Some house cats avoid the kitchen as soon as the chopping and sizzling begins, while others hang around for the cooking session and simply accept the various aromas floating around.

Owner should show consideration and give the cat the opportunity to choose, in case it wants to escape the unpleasant smells.

Garlic and onions in particular are ingredients that all cats dislike. These odors are poisonous to cats and they should not be exposed to them.

6. Certain plant fragrances

Lavender and the "scaredy cat plant" will keep cats away from the garden.
Lavender and the "scaredy cat plant" will keep cats away from the garden.  © Unsplash/Emiel Molenaar

In addition to perfumes, lemons, and garlic, there are also some plants whose scent cats hate.

These include lavender, curry plants, as well as spurflowers in general and the "scaredy cat plant" –which didn't get its name for nothing – in particular. The lemon beebrush, geraniums, and common rue are also unpopular with felines.

They all contain essential fragrances that dogs and cats find very unpleasant.

As a result, some people use these plants to keep cats away from certain areas such as flowerbeds or terraces.

Humans usually don't have a problem with these herbs and even find their smell pleasant.

7. Unfamiliar smells

Cats have a serious problem with unfamiliar scents on their property.
Cats have a serious problem with unfamiliar scents on their property.  © Unsplash/FuYong Hua

Cats are territorial creatures and they very much dislike detecting the scents of unfamiliar humans or animals on their home ground.

They will try to cover up the strange smell by rubbing themselves against the objects in question or, in case of doubt, by taking care of business outside the litter box in protest.

If a cat's territorial behavior becomes too dominant, owners are encouraged to introduce their pet to boundaries. Preventing undesired reactions to foreign smells goes hand in hand with patience and empathy towards the cat.

Natural cat repellents

Cats will stay away from areas that have certain fragrances.
Cats will stay away from areas that have certain fragrances.  © Unsplash/Sergio Locatelli

Many people – cat owners included – are always on the lookout for harmless ways to keep cats away from specific areas in the home or garden.

These can be flower beds, sandboxes, a child's room, or individual pieces of furniture.

The aim is usually to prevent cats from doing their business in unwanted places or causing an allergic reaction if someone in the household is sensitive to animal hairs.

In the garden, aside from planting garlic or lavender, spreading old coffee grounds or mulching the flower beds is also effective.

Grass clippings, bark mulch, or shredded autumn leaves, will generally keep cats away, because they find the smell unpleasant.

For rooms or furniture, it's best to use lemon juice, onion water, or vinegar. Mix any of them with water and use a spray bottle to apply a few puffs in the places that the cat is supposed to avoid.

But be careful when spraying on sensitive surfaces, as the acids can leave ugly stains.

A cat's nose is particularly sensitive to intense odors.
A cat's nose is particularly sensitive to intense odors.  © Unsplash/Kevin Knezic

Generally, it's best to shield cats from particularly strong smells, even if they seem like undeniably pleasant aromas to us.

Most cats will definitely appreciate this thoughtful gesture, but don't expect them to show their gratitude – it's just not their style.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Kevin Knezic

More on the topic Cats:


WhatsApp Our WhatsApp +49 160 - 24 24 24 0