What are the smells that cats hate?

What are the Smells That Cats Hate?

We experience the world mostly with our eyes. Cats, on the other hand, use their noses more than their eyes. Their sense of smell is about 15 times better than that of humans. And this means cats may hate the smells and scents you find mild or pleasing.

Perhaps you love the smell of brewing coffee because it invigorates you, or you are probably fond of the scent of a freshly cut lemon because it reminds you so much of your grandma’s baking. However, your cat may not exactly be fond of these smells.

Is your cat or kitten sneezing a lot? Chances are there’s a smell he/ she doesn’t like.

Since your cat is part of your household, it is important to know what kind of smells cats dislike and get rid of them so that yours can live with you more comfortably. 

Smells that cats hate

Note that this information can also help you keep your living space cat-free if you are not exactly a fan of them. That said, here are some smells that cats are not particularly fond of.


Cats cannot tolerate the smell of citrus fruits like orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. If you have been trying to ward off stray cats from your home, a good idea would be to leave lemon or orange peels around. You can also spritz some citrus scents on fabrics or in areas you don’t want cats 

Essential Oils

Besides being good for skincare, essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender and emit soothing scents that keep you relaxed. Unfortunately, your furry friend might not take a liking to this. Remember to keep them out of reach of your cat so that she does not get irritated. If you aim to keep stray cats away, you could spray some of these essential oils in areas of concern and they will not set foot.


Vinegar is an amazing cleaning product but cats just don’t seem to like it, perhaps due to its strong smell. It does not harm them physically, rather they just cannot stand its smell. However, diluting your vinegar makes the smell much fainter, allowing you to use it for cleaning without irritating your cat. Also, you can use undiluted vinegar as a cat repellent if you want to keep stray cats off. Just spray some of it in areas you don’t want cats around and you’re good to go.


We love the smell of coffee, whether ground or brewing, as it has a homely and rustic feel to it. However, cats do not share in this love and are bothered by its strong smell. Coffee can also be toxic to cats and this is why they avoid it. You can a container of coffee grounds in strategic places in your home to keep stray cats away. Since coffee won’t be kind to a cat’s health, it would be better to try a safer option as a repellent if you do not want to cause any harm.


The smell of menthol is irritating to cats’ noses, which is why they avoid it all costs. Natural menthol and mints found in many plants are also poisonous to cats. You can place suck plants all over your garden to deter stray cats but this may be toxic. Mint also flourishes pretty well while potted so you can also plant it indoors. You will, however, need to be extra aware of it at all times so that your cat does not get into contact with it.


Cats do not like strong spices like pepper, cayenne, and curry. Besides, peppers contain capsaicin, a component that can produce VOCs that can be toxic to cats. Keep any spices out of reach of your pet cat for safety purposes. If you are looking to repel stray cats, spices could be lethal to a cat’s nine lives so it would be better to use a safer method.

Cooking herbs

Common herbs like thyme and rosemary are good for cooking but they produce smells that cats hate. Keep them out of reach of your cat or keep them in pots if you don’t want any stray cats snooping around your garden. Rosemary and thyme are not harmful to cats but if used together with essential 

Dirty Litter

Cats are known to possess a certain trait of solitude and this explains why they mark their territories with urine to keep other cats from intruding into their space. Urine, in general, does not smell nice to cats even if it is their own. This is why you should always keep the litterbox clean. A dirty litterbox will make your cat use other places like your couch or even bed. If you keep more than one cat in your home, you could have multiple litterboxes so that all your cats can claim their territory. You can also create some distance between the litterboxes if you notice a dominance issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats love catnip?

Cats have a rich and detailed perception of scents and enjoy some smells more than others. One such smell is that of catnip, which is made from the dried leaves of the catnip plant. Cats are stimulated by this substance, unsurprisingly, due to the chemical compounds it contains.

Cats exposed to catnip tend to appear excited and may roll around, drool, shake their head and play with whatever object that has that smell. This behavior has been described as being similar to euphoria; the same way drugs affect humans.

Final Thoughts On Smells That Cats Hate

All in all, cats have a very sensitive olfactory system that will make them avoid some scents that humans may delight in. If you truly love your cat, I believe this piece of information will help you improve her living conditions in your home. If you just don’t like cats in general, I know you now have more ways of keeping them off your living space.

If you are looking for more content on cats, you can begin here:  What cat breeds have long hair?, How Big Does a Bengal Cat get?, What to Do if Your Cat Has Bloody Stools, What are the Symptoms of Worms in Cats?, Names For Persian Cats, Can cats eat chocolate mousse?, Gray Cat Names, Unique Names For Girl Cats, Can Cats Eat Eggs?, Why is my Kitten Sneezing?

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