What smells do cats hate?

Par Pawtounes 7 Min de Lecture

Cats have a very refined sense of smell. What’s more, we know that they have rather peculiar behaviors and reactions when something upsets them. For example, when they smell something they don’t like. Do you know which smells cats hate? We reveal them to you!

A cat’s sense of smell

Felines like to be clean, which is why grooming is so important. But what’s more, they also want this property to permeate their entire environment.

Their sense of smell is highly developed. They are generally guided by scent to find their bearings, locate their belongings (such as their food bowl) and detect enemies to protect themselves in time. It’s a sense 14 times more developed than our own.

What’s more, a very interesting curiosity about cats’ sense of smell is that they have a sensitive organ located on the palate, called the Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal, which enables them to taste by smell, rather than by taste.

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Over time, these animals have developed certain olfactory preferences, but also odors that they reject. So it’s best to know the smells cats dislike, to avoid putting them under their noses.

Why do cats hate certain smells?

There are many reasons why cats dislike certain smells.

The first is derived from their highly developed olfactory system. As we said, they smell things more intensely than we do, so there are certain scents whose fragrance multiplies in their nostrils.

Another reason why there are certain smells that cats hate is that when they smell them, their survival instinct is activated. This happens, for example, in the case of certain plants that are toxic to them.

The third reason is that cats like to be clean. For this reason, living in a very dirty environment is not part of their plans, and neither are smells of feces or decay.

Smells cats hate

Let’s find out which smells cats can’t stand.

Dirty litter tray

One of the reasons cats don’t use the litter tray is because it’s dirty. As we explained earlier, felines are very hygienic animals and having to smell their own excrement doesn’t appeal to them.

For this reason, sand changes should not be neglected. Of course, scented sand should not be used as litter. These not only give off an odor that the animal doesn’t like, but also camouflage the smell of feces.

This can lead to the cat not knowing that this is where it needs to relieve itself, especially if it’s still in the potty training stage.

Citrus scents

Another scent cats hate is citrus: lemon, orange, lime…

In fact, they hate these scents so much that there are citrus-based cat repellents. You can prevent a cat from urinating in your garden by creating a homemade repellent with orange or lemon juice, or by spraying this mixture on the ground.

Spices such as pepper, mustard and curry

Spicy or highly seasoned foods are not good for cats’ health. Therefore, they should never taste them. However, there’s a good chance that they’ll reject them just from the smell alone.

Some plants

It’s not uncommon for cats to like certain plants, or even eat them (beware of plants that are toxic to cats!).

However, there are others, such as thyme, eucalyptus, geranium or lavender, which give off scents that cats don’t like at all.


Another of the smells that cats hate, and which usually comes as the biggest surprise, is that of bananas. However, this depends on the individual, as some cats don’t mind the smell as much as others.

Cleaning products

If certain cleaning product odors, like bleach, cause us to reject them, imagine cats. In general, very intense chemical odors tend to bother them a lot.

Damaged fish

You should never give your cat spoiled food, as this could make him ill. Even so, if the feline doesn’t have an atrophied sense of smell, it’s highly likely that he’ll reject it himself, as he can’t bear to have stale or rotten food nearby.


The smell of coffee is so strong that it acts as a repellent for many animals. So if your feline is one of those who enters the kitchen and wreaks havoc, you can place a few coffee beans on the counter or in other strategic places to keep him out.


Another smell cats hate is vinegar. Again, this can be used as a repellent. In fact, it is highly effective as a natural flea remedy for cats and dogs.

However, you have to bear in mind that its odor is highly distasteful to cats.

Soaps, perfumes and deodorants

As we’ve already said, cats don’t like chemical odors. That’s why putting our perfume near the cat is not a good idea. Let alone perfume it!

The same thing happens with soaps. If you bathe your cat, it’s best to do so with a neutral scent, as a synthetic smell can even stress your pet.

The smell of other cats and animals

Here, we have to be careful. It’s not that cats hate the smell of other animals (their own species or not). What happens to them is that felines are very territorial and the arrival of a new cat or other animal in their environment can be perceived as a threat.

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Par Pawtounes
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