What Scents Do Cats Hate?



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Cats have more sensitive sniffers than their canine counterparts and can easily detect scents better than us. Cats have approximately 30 V1R receptors in their noses, while dogs only have 9 and humans have 2.

What Scents Do Cats Hate. A black cat in garden surrounded by bluebell flowers and leaves.

Researchers estimate a cat’s nose is up to 16 times better than ours when picking up scents. The 200 million super-powered receptors are sure to pick up a few smells cats hate. To understand it better, we need to understand their sense of smell. I’ll discuss everything you need to know about it. Keep reading!

Understanding a Cat’s Sense of Smell

Cats’ noses developed over time to help them survive in the wild. For example, cats bury their poop to mark their territory and spray pheromones.

They evolved a unique scent-processing anatomy that differentiates them from other animals and humans. They smell the world around them and determine friends or foes based on how the scents are processed.

The scents most of them hate are typically the ones that remind them of danger. Compounds release gases into the air, which they use to determine if they should stay away from particular foods, places, or felines.

While it’s easy to tell why your cat hates certain smells, such as the scent of their urine, because cats are fond of cleanliness, others can come as a surprise.

Scents Cats Hate and Why

Let’s learn what scents cats hate and the reason behind it:

Essential Oils

While the soothing addition of essential oils, such as lavender and eucalyptus, to your nighttime skin routine may have benefited your skin significantly, your cat may not share the same enthusiasm!

Due to their concentrated form, cats dislike the scent of essential oils. It’s overpowering and overstimulates their sensitive little noses. While the aroma isn’t usually harmful to cats, ingesting essential oils can lead to a severe reaction.

If you’re fond of using diffusers, consider switching to pheromone oils designed to help calm cats.

Before making the switch, check in with your vet. Some pheromone-based oils may work for other cats, but your furry feline may dislike them.

Citrus Fruits

Cats dislike the strong, acidic smell of citrus fruits because the essential oils found in citrus fruits are toxic to them. In addition, ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and potential dermatitis.

Since the fruit itself is a big no for cats, if your neighborhood is riddled with them and you’re looking to keep them off your private property, the essential oils found in these fruits make for the perfect solution to deter them.

Hot Peppers

Capsaicin, the molecule that gives chili peppers their signature pungency and spiciness, is toxic to cats. But, since it’s one of the scents they hate, the compound can be found in commercially available cat repellents.

If you’re fond of growing peppers and don’t want to go through the hassle of spraying each house corner to ward off neighborhood cats, consider keeping your pepper houseplant in such places.

Herbs and Plants

Herbs are good at leveling up your cooking and freshening your home, but they work as natural cat deterrents if carefully chosen.

The potent scent of thyme is considered offensive to cats. However, combining thyme and rosemary plantations will do an excellent job of keeping stray cats off your property. While herbs are typically harmless, some may cause an adverse reaction. For example, mint and lavender in essential oils are toxic to cats if ingested.


Cats despise the pungent and acidic scent of vinegar. Its primary benefit is that it isn’t harmful to cats and can safely keep them away from a particular area.

Ground Coffee

You may like to start your day with a strong cup of coffee, but many cats innately dislike the scent. In addition, the compound caffeine, typically found in coffee beans, cocoa beans, and tea leaves, is toxic to cats.

While using coffee grounds to ward off cats seems perfect, veterinarians recommend against this practice simply because the cat can ingest the caffeine while grooming.

Dirty Litter Box

Cats prefer cleanliness, and their urine is more than just waste. It contains unique scent markers that they use to communicate with one another. For example, it marks territory and shows they aren’t a threat.

If you’re a multi-cat household, it’s strongly recommended that you purchase a litter box for each cat and place them in different areas.

Cleaning Products

Disinfectants, deodorants, soaps, and air fresheners contain chemicals and overpowering fragrances.

If you’re a cat owner, it’s recommended that you gradually introduce a new cleaning product. This allows you to observe any changes in your cat’s behavior and make modifications accordingly. Store products safely, preferably in cupboards that are out of your pet’s reach.


Cats are hardwired to keep their distance from the potent spray of skunks. This scent also includes Coleus Canina, the “Scaredy Cat Plant,” which gives off a distinct skunk-like smell. The smell is so foul that even dogs keep their distance.

Why Does It Matter What Smells Cats Hate?

It’s easy to disregard a cat’s preferences. However, as a cat owner or someone who lives in an area populated with them, it’s your responsibility to stay updated on toxic materials to furry felines.

Pet owners can use it to make their cat’s living space more comfortable. Some use non-toxic scents to train out destructive behaviors from household cats. The same scents double as natural and safe repellents.

Final Thoughts on What Scents Cats Hate

Always respect your cat’s sense of smell. As a precaution, avoid using any essential oils, diffusers, or potent scents.

While cats hate some scents due to learned behaviors, they may dislike others due to personal preferences. Once you’re sure a scent is non-toxic, gradually introduce it into your pet’s routine. If in doubt, ask your vet!

Before you go, you might find these articles helpful:

20 Flowers That Are Safe For Cats

What Smell Do Cats Hate: 10 Scents Cats Hate

Why Does My Cat Have Black Boogers

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