What Smells Do Cats Hate? 13 Smells That Cats Detest

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Are cats a one person animal

What smells do cats hate? There are a variety of fragrances that cats hate, including citrus, vinegar, and menthol. These scents are generally repulsive to cats because they are so intense and overwhelming. 

Cats dislike the smell of certain plants, such as lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary. If you’re looking to keep your cat away from certain areas of your home, such as out of your bedroom, off kitchen counters, or away from your sofa, you can use scent as a deterrent.

This article will answer the question, ‘what smells do cats hate?’ We’ll also give you details about cats’ sense of smell, provide some tips for deterring cats and tell you which products to keep away from your pet.

What smells do cats hate? How is this helpful?

what smells do cats hate?
What smells do cats hate? The smells cats hate can be used to deter cats or you can avoid strong smells to make cats feel more comfortable in their home.

Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to communicate and navigate their world. Their sense of smell is known as the olfactory sense and is just as strong as that of a dog.

A strong odor can be overwhelming for cats and cause discomfort. When cats try to avoid something, they will often associate that thing with a negative smell.

Avoid smells in the home

You may be wondering which smells to avoid to help make your home more welcoming and comfortable for your pet.

Smells as a deterrent

You can also use smells to your advantage by using certain smells as a deterrent. For example, if you don’t want your cat on the kitchen counter, you can place a citrus-scented towel on the edge. The strong smell will deter the cat from jumping up.

Similarly, if you’re trying to keep your cat out of a specific room in your home, you can place some lavender near the door. The scent will help to keep the cat away from that area.

What smells do cats hate?

Here are some smells that most cats hate:

  • Strong smelling herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, and mustard. 
  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Anything with a spicy smell, such as pepper and curry
  • Bananas, including the fruit and skin
  • Strong smelling disinfectants (these may contain toxic ingredients)
  • Soap and strong perfumes (contain toxic compounds)
  • Essential oils (Can also be toxic)
  • Dirty litter box
  • Coffee
  • Tea leaves
  • Vinegar
  • Menthol

Understanding a cat's sense of smell

What smells do cats hate? Cats have a strong sense of smell and as a result, many common household cleaning products, foods and herbs are overwhelming for them.

Cats have a powerful sense of smell. In fact, it is estimated that their sense of smell is 34 times stronger than ours. They also have a layer of tissue in their nose that is specially adapted for trapping scent molecules.

This heightened sense of smell is because cats have more scent receptors in their nose than we do. Humans have six million scent receptors in their nasal passage compared to a cat with 200 million.

This allows cats to pick up on even the slightest of smells. For example, a cat can smell something that is diluted in water.

Cats use their sense of smell for a variety of purposes. They use it to communicate with other cats, find food, and navigate their surroundings.


A cat’s sense of smell is also thought to play a role in their memories and emotions. Certain scents can trigger happy memories or make a cat feel comfortable and safe.

On the other hand, certain smells can be very upsetting to a cat. This is why it’s essential to be mindful of the products you use around your home and avoid using anything with a strong scent.

Cats versus Dogs: Sense of smell

can dogs be allergic to cats?

Cats have as good a sense of smell as most dogs, with the exception of bloodhounds and other scent hounds. These dogs have as many as 600 million scent receptors in their nose and have a very powerful sense of smell. 

Most breeds of dogs have a lot fewer receptors, and their sense of smell is comparable to a cat or lower.

Scientists have concluded that cats have a more extraordinary ability than dogs to distinguish between different smells, so they are more likely to be affected by strong odors.

The V1R receptor determines how well humans and animals can differentiate between smells. Felines have a V1R receptor score of about thirty compared to just nine for most dog breeds and two for humans

What is the most effective cat repellent?

There are a variety of commercial cat repellents on the market. These products usually contain ingredients that have been proven to deter cats.

If you’re looking for a natural and effective way to keep cats away, we recommend using lemon juice or other citrus fruit.
You can use citrus juice in a variety of ways. You can add it to a diffuser or spray bottle and use it to mist the area you want to keep the cat away from.

You can also soak some cotton balls in the juice and place them around the perimeter of the area. The pungent smell will deter the cat from entering.

DIY cat repellent

Another option is to make your own cat repellent at home. This DIY repellent contains a mix of ingredients known to be effective at deterring cats. 

To make this repellent, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice

Simply mix all of the ingredients together and store them in a spray bottle. When you’re ready to use, simply mist the area you want to keep the cat away from.

Keep cats out of your garden

If you’re looking to keep a neighbor’s cat out of your garden, you may like to plant a variety of strong-smelling herbs. Basil, rosemary, lavender, and thyme are all good, but it’s worth noting that some plants are mildly toxic to cats, so ensure the cats aren’t able to access the plant.

Related Article: Which Plants are Toxic to Cats?

Cats also hate the smell of other animals, such as skunks; some may even keep away if they smell a dog or another cat. Some plants give off a skunk-like odor; these can be planted in your yard to deter cats.

What does commercial cat deterrent spray contain?

The main ingredient in commercial cat deterrent spray is usually citrus extract. This oil is derived from citrus fruits and has a strong citrus smell that cats hate.

In addition, these sprays often contain other pungent ingredients such as mustard, peppermint, or lavender that are known to be effective at deterring cats.

How to use commercial cat deterrent spray

When using a commercial cat deterrent spray, be sure to follow the instructions on the label. These products are usually safe to use around children and pets, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

If you’re using the spray indoors, be sure to open windows and doors to ventilate the area. 

You should also avoid spraying the product directly on furniture or fabrics unless it says on the label that you can do so.

What smells do cats hate?: Other smells to avoid

Avoid a dirty litter box and be aware that essential oils may be toxic to cats.

Dirty litter box

Cats are generally clean animals and hate the smell of a dirty litter box. In fact, many cats will refuse to use their litter box if it hasn’t been cleaned for a while. This can cause hygiene issues in your home as the cat may find somewhere else to go to the toilet, such as in your plant pot.

Essential oils

Some people will recommend using essential oils to stop cats from scratching your furniture or keep them away from other areas in your home. You’ll need to be aware that some essential oils are toxic to cats when doing so.

It’s best to be cautious and never use essential oils if your cat is likely to be able to have direct access to the area that’s been marked with the scent. Certain oils, such as tea tree, can cause a cat’s internal organs to fail.

If you have a cat as a pet, avoid using defuses that use essential oils and consult your vet as soon as possible if your cat has come into contact with oils.

What smells do cats hate?: Final thoughts

There are a variety of smells that cats hate. These include strong scents like citrus and lavender and more subtle aromas like eucalyptus and peppermint.

If you’re looking for an effective way to keep cats away, we recommend using a commercial cat deterrent spray. Alternatively, you can make your own using the above recipe.

Related Article: How To Stop Cats Scratching Leather Furniture?

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