What smells do cats not like?

What smells do cats not like?

A cat’s nose doesn’t only comply with offering more cuteness to the fluffy creature. It’s also considered one of the cat’s most significant assets in dissecting and understanding their environment. As it decides with it where to go and where not, including determining whether to eat something or not.

That being said, we’ll discuss what kind of smells cats like and don’t like.

Smells that cats hate

Cats hate the smell of citrus (lemon, orange, lime, etc.). Herbs like Rosemary, Rue, Cinnamon, and Lavender. If you need a cat repellent you can also try vinegar, since many cats hate the smell of vinegar. Both fresh and when it has dried out.

There are many smells cats do not like that much, so keep reading for more details.

The Litter Box

Perhaps one of the smells that cats find less appealing is a dirty litter box. If your litter box hasn’t been upkeep in a while, your cat might avoid using it and instead start use some spaces in your house as an alternative restroom in less appropriate ways. Furthermore, if you have more than one cat, it’s advisable to keep one litter box for each cat. This is because cats can be extremely territorial, so sniffing another cat’s waste in the litter box might discourage them right out of the box—and onto the rug instead. So make sure that the litter box is clean if you want your cat to use it regularly!

Cats Don’t Like Bananas

Cats dislike the smell of bananas. This may be due to the presence of potassium in the fruit. Unfortunately, the potassium-scent in bananas makes cats reminiscent of the scent of potassium chloride in certain medications. A helpful hack is to try rubbing banana peels on furniture that you want them to stay away from. This way, you can keep your cat away from expensive furniture and prevent unwanted scratches on them.

Household cleaning products

Cats don’t like the odor from common household cleaning chemicals. Of course, these abrasive chemicals are toxins, too, especially when ingested. Be wise and alert in keeping them away from your feline friends to deter them from accidentally eating it. These include soaps, air fresheners, cleaning bleach, detergent, dishwashing liquid &, etc. Also, when cleaning your house, if possible, use odorless or mild cleaners. The strong scent from bleach will be too much for your cat’s sensitive nose, and therefore, don’t let them lounge in areas where they have been sprayed at home. Quintessentially only use gentle cleansers for your cat’s litter box.

Citrus: orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit:

If you have any pesky feral cat friends loitering in your garden, you can shoo these unwanted guests by throwing orange peels around your yard or spritzing a citrus scent on indoor fabric near your home. Citrus smells are widely reported as being repulsive to cats, as they have an overpowering scent, which may feel like too much to a cat’s sensitive nose.

Although citrus fruits are considered edible for cats (although most of them probably won’t be interested), always ensure that the skin and plant material are disposed of correctly as it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or dermatitis.

Rosemary, Rue, Cinnamon, and Lavender:

Cats do indeed turn their noses up at certain common herbs, including rosemary, rue, and thyme. Herbs like rosemary and thyme are typically harmless to cats, while rue may cause an adverse reaction (as it can in humans). They are often used for garden solutions because these herbs and spices are highly disliked by cats making them an effective cat deterrent in your garden.

Mint, Wintergreen, and Menthol:

These plants come with a more pungent smell. Though mint comes from the same family as catnip, it’s not a favorite among cats. While they have a cooling effect for humans, especially in forms of candy, oil, and liniment, this herb is deemed abrasive by our cats, so keep them away. A small sniff will make cats madly run and hide in a corner until you have properly stored it away. Your cats will flee from the source of the foul smell, and ingesting mint can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

Pepper, curry, and cinnamon

Cats don’t like spicy food or scents with a “kick” to it. Fresh and ground peppers are disliked by cats. Nevertheless, cats can eat sweeter varieties of peppers, though like bell peppers.

More for you to read:

Video: Animals reacting to bad smells

Common Asked Questions about the kinds of smells cats dislike

What scent do cats hate the most?

Humans and cats share a common dislike for the smell of rotting fish. This tops the most revolting scent for your cat. Therefore, when you feed your cats, marine products, always ensure that it’s fresh and healthy. Firstly, it’s because your cat won’t clearly eat it. Secondly, if you force them to do so, it will make them vomit or be poisoned. 

Do cats dislike the scent of other cats?

Cats, in general, don’t mind the scent of other cats they are familiar with. But if you suddenly find yourself welcoming a new cat into your home without a proper introduction to your current pet, the scent of a new cat in the household can send your feline into a tizzy. Worse yet, the “new cat smell” might trigger territorial anxiety into your current feline and cause it to spray the house. That’s a smell no one likes, yikes!

What is the best cat repellent?

There exist a lot of tools and methods to keep either your not so friendly neighborhood cat away from your garden or only your own cat from some areas of your house. The ways vary and differ, as they range from electronics and tech-based solutions that utilize high pitched sound frequencies. Otherwise, you can use some mixture of the plants/herbs mentioned above this list to either plant them or spray them within the desired areas, and they will be an efficient deterrent to keep these furry creatures away.

Do cats hate the smell of vinegar?

Some cats do indeed hate the smell of vinegar. Even when the vinegar has dried a lot of cats strongly object to the smell that vinegar has. So vinegar might be a good way to keep a cat away from a specific area. You can try it as a repellent both indoor or outdoor.

What is a good homemade cat repellent?

You can make a great homemade cat repellent by mixing half vinegar with half water. Another good cat repellent is mixing water with essential oils with lavender, lemongrass, citronella or peppermint. Just spray the homemade repellent where you don’t want the cats to hang around.

Do cats hate the smell of bleach

Some cats might hate bleach, but most actually love the smell of bleach. So if you’re looking for a good cat repellent, your choice shouldn’t be bleach. If you’re looking for a smell that they hate, go for vinegar, lavender or citrus fruits like lemon or orange.

Does cayenne pepper stop cats from pooping in your yard?

Cayenne Pepper can be used to keep your cat out of your yard, but we do not recommend that you use cayenne pepper since it can potentially harm the cat. Instead, use other natural smells like citrus or herbs like rosemary or lavender.

Are essential oils safe for pets?

There is a lot of essential oils, that you should avoid if you have a cat or a dog, since they are toxic for them. In general you should never to essential oils directly on your cat since that can be dangerous for the pet.


Cats are full of perks, and they indeed know how to keep us intrigued. But sometimes cats could also be a tough nut for us to crack. That’s why understanding their behaviors, especially with how they react to certain scents and plants, allows us to better interact with our feline companions. Using this article as a guide will allow you the basic dos and don’ts of what kind of smell your cat likes or dislikes. Overall, having proper knowledge will help you lay a safer and more comfy place for your fluffy companion.

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