Cats sniff everything they come into contact with. It’s how they learn about the world around them. Also, their incredible sense of smell helps them determine when to feel secure. As pet owners, we should know which smells our furry pals like. But what smells do cats hate? 

The Philosophy Behind the Sniff

One reason scents are so important to cats is that they have two noses. In fact, cat stats show that cats have around 45 to 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses.

The ordinary nose sends messages to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The extra vomeronasal organ, or Jacobson’s organ, connects to the nerves in the nasal cavity and sends messages to a part of the brain called the amygdala. That part handles social behavior, sex, and food. So whether your cat likes or hates a particular smell, it’s feelings towards it are pretty strong.

Cats Have Ph.D. in Hating — Especially for These Smells

What smells do cats hate with a passion? Here are the major substances your cat doesn’t want anywhere near it:

1. Fresh Mint 

Mint contains a compound that will actually kill your cat. It’s a high concentration of essential oils, which can be toxic. Still, it’s important to remember that it’s only poisonous in huge volumes. Conversely, some cats love mint as it contains compounds similar to nepetalactone, produced by the Nepeta cataria (also known as catnip).

2. Chili Peppers 

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which is the special molecule that gives chili peppers their spiciness. Cats don’t take too kindly to it because of its toxic VOCs. That’s why you might come across it in cat repellents.

3. Coleus Canina a.k.a Scaredy Cat Plant 

The plant is a part of the mint family and among the smells cats avoid because they’re too strong. Its smell is particularly noxious to humans as much as cats. So if you had it in your garden, you’d probably turn your nose up at it, too!

4. Rue 

Commonly found in many gardens as it’s easy to grow, this herb has a powerful odor that’s overwhelming to your feline friends but not as bad as Coleus Canina.

5. Coffee 

Coffee beans and brewed coffee contain caffeine, a very toxic chemical to cats. So the aroma we find so intoxicating in the morning is probably the reason your cat isn’t around at the crack of dawn!

5. Cinnamon 

Do cats like the smell of cinnamon? In a word, no. Cats don’t like strong and spicy smells like this one because they associate them with the possibility of poisoning. Cinnamon is simply too powerful for your cat’s nose.

6. Pine & Cedar 

The strong sense of pine and cedar emanating from your cleaning products is off-putting to cats.

citrus fruits

7. Citrus Fruits 

What smells do cats hate but you love? Strong citrus scents like grapefruit and orange peels might feel great for your home during the holiday season, but your cat’s not happy about them.

8. Essential Oils 

While there are safe essential oils for cats you can use, most are too potent for your cat’s sensitive nose and can result in a severe reaction. While the aroma won’t hurt your pet, if your cat accidentally ingests the essential oils, you should consult a vet right away.

9. Herbs 

Watch out for herbs like lavender, rosemary, geranium, and pennyroyal. Cats find them particularly off-putting.

10. Banana 

Experts believe that cats hate how bananas smell because of the potassium in them.

11. Curry 

Meals like curry contain a wide variety of spices, so if you ordered an Indian meal, that’s among the best scents to keep cats away.

12. Vinegar 

It’s one of the worst smells cats hate. Vinegar isn’t toxic, but you have to be careful how you use it. For example, cleaning up cat urine with vinegar may spur your pet to urinate on top of the area to mask the smell.

13. Ground Coffee 

One of the main reasons ground coffee is used to repel cats in gardens is its toxicity potential.

14. Tomatoes 

Tomatoes have a very strong scent, which will immediately repel your cat.

15. Smelly Litter Box 

If you forget to clean your cat’s litter box, your pet will find another place to urinate. One of the best approaches to ensure your cat uses its litter box is to opt for cat litter crystals as they absorb strong smells.

16. The Scent of Another Cat 

Of the many smells cats hate, the smell of another cat is among the more surprising. But since cats don’t like the smells of cats they don’t know, it’s more to do with your pet marking its territory

17. Household Cleaners 

Household cleaners contain scents like pine and lemon, which are very strong. Hence, expect your cat to turn its nose up when you’re cleaning.

18. Deodorants & Soaps 

Like cleaning products, cats don’t like the smell of deodorants and soaps because of their chemicals.

19. Smelly Fish 

Much as we can’t stand the smell of anything that’s out of date, smelly fish is among those things your cat will hate as much as you. Make sure you cover your garbage!

20. Onion 

As garlic and onion come from the family Amaryllidaceae, they’re poisonous to cats. So it’s hardly surprising they’re among the scents cats hate.

Wrap Up

Our list features some very common items — from household cleaners to coffee and herbs. Still, you should introduce your pet to various smells so it can get used to the environment. 

As your cat knows its own mind, it’s likely to hide for a while if you’re cooking strongly scented meals and cleaning up with household products. Also, remember that the best way to introduce cats starts with being mindful of their marked territory.

So what smells do cats hate? The list can go on and on. Remember to clean your pet’s litter box regularly to avoid the smell you hate, too.

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