List of 9 smells cats hate or do not enjoy

Cat smelling flowers

Although cats might not have the best smell in comparison to dogs, there are various smells that they do hate. Examples are lavender, tangy smells, Italian herbs, white vinegar, coffee, urine, spices, minty smells and banana (peel). These are just a few of the scents that cats do not like, or cannot stand at all. It is useful to know what smells might not be comfortable for cats, so you can prevent them in your home.

On the other hand, if there are specific places where you do not want your cat to move to, you can use these smells in your advantage. Of course, only do this with natural scents, so you do not do any damage to your cat. In this article, you will find a list of the various smells that cats do not enjoy or like. The second part of this article, lays out how you can use their dislike to your advantage, if you ever need to. So, want to know more about the different smells a cat hate? Tag along and read the article below!


List of 9 various smells that cats hate or do not enjoy

Here, you will find a list of various smells and scents that cats hate or do not enjoy. First of all, it is important to understand that cats encounter smells differently than us humans, or even dogs. Although a cat’s nose does help them with getting through their daily routine, they identify scents different. Rather than actually smelling particular scents and recognizing them as such, they differentiate scents based on danger.

So, a scent will either be seen as safe or dangerous. This way a cat prevents to take or sniff in any unsafe scents. Therefore, the scents listed below are smells that cats see as unsafe or threatening. If you are a cat owner, we therefore recommend you to prevent such smells, or use them carefully to lure your cat back from particular objects or spaces. Now, onto the list!

  • One of the first scents cats do not like is lavender or other familiar scents occurring in essential or aroma oils. While these scents on their own often do not cause much harm, once put into an essential oil they can actually become quite dangerous for cats. This has to do with the amount of chemicals, also known as VOCs, that are used in these oils. It is therefore advised to not put any diffusers of aroma therapy into your house. If your cat does come into contact with large quantities of essential oils, and starts having trouble with their breathing, a consultation with a veterinarian is necessary. Other signs that your cat has intensive contact with essential oils are having a runny nose, drooling and having a cough.
  • Another scent cats do not enjoy are tangy smells, such as those from lemons, grapefruits and oranges. A cat identifies these as dangerous due to their strong and sharp smell. In theory, cats can eat citrus fruits, except for their peels. It is therefore that citrus peels are used to repel cats from particular places. Whenever a cat does eat the peel from a citrus fruit, it can cause them to feel unwell, portraying in vomiting or having diarrhoea. If this holds on for longer periods of time, a vet can help out. Always make sure that your cat is drinking enough of water to stay hydrated until your appointment at the veterinarian.
  • The third smell cats hate are Italian herbs, like thyme, rosemary and oregano. In contrast to the smell of lavender, essential oils and citrus fruit, Italian herbs do not cause any danger to your cat. They just simply do not enjoy the strong scent that come with these herbs. So, if you do have a cat that likes to wander or cause a scene in your backyard, planting some of these Italian herbs in your garden can help prevent them from ruining your garden.
  • Fourthly, the smell of white vinegar, or other vinegar types (i.e. apple cider vinegar, white rice vinegar and red wine vinegar) is not enjoyed by cats. Again, this smell or the use of vinegar is not dangerous for the health of your furry friend. However, it is wise to be aware when you are using vinegar. Specifically, as vinegar is often used for cleaning. As the vinegar scent is very powerful, it can cause your cat to avoid particular areas, where you still want your cat to come. This is often the case for the space where the litterbox of your cat is placed. Vinegar is great at removing the smell of the litterbox, however can cause your cat to not come into this room anymore due to the unpleasant smell.
  • A fifth scent that cats tend to hate is coffee or coffee grounds. This smell is another example that prevents a cat to doing damage to themselves. As coffee, and even coffee grounds, contain caffeine this can be harmful to your cat. Sometimes, people use coffee grounds in their garden or backyard to prevent cats from entering. However, as coffee grounds are very small they can still stick to a cat’s fur or paws. If they then start grooming themselves, this can cause them to accidentally get coffee into their system. We therefore recommend to not use coffee or coffee grounds as a way to chase away cats. Rather, use vinegar or Italian herbs, which are safe for cats.
  • Urine is another smell that cats cannot handle very well. This is not because this causes danger to them, rather it is a way for cats to set their territory. Therefore, urine of cats contains hormones, called a pheromone, which sets off other cats. Whenever you have multiple cats, it is important to have multiple litterboxes so you prevent your cat littering in your house. This is caused whenever another cat has littered in a litterbox that is your cat’s. In turn, it is also of importance to clean a litterbox regularly, again, to prevent your cat from littering someplace different than their litterbox.
  • Spices, such as cinnamon, chili, hot peppers are also smells that cats classify as unsafe. Due to their strong, sharp and warm scent cats are uncomfortable around these scents. Cinnamon is a safe spice that you can use to prevent your cat from particular objects. You can for example put a cinnamon stick into a plant or plant pot that your cat finds extremely interesting. Chili and hot peppers are on the other not that safe to use. Whenever they ingest this, your cat can start to vomit or have the runs.
  • Eighth, minty smells, in example mint, eucalyptus and menthol are hated by cats. You can therefore use a minty scented room spray if your cat attacks your furniture. However, again, be way of the amount of room spray you use. As highlighted in the section on lavender and essential oils, whenever your cat inhales lots of these scents, this can be dangerous to them. You will also never see a cat eating mint, as this causes digestive issues for cats.
  • Lastly, cats also do not like the smell of bananas and their peels. According to research, this most likely has to do with the fact that bananas contain potassium. Although this has many health benefits for humans, it reminds cats of medication. Potassium is namely often used in cat medication. Especially if your cat has had medication in which potassium was used, you will not see them close to a banana or their peel. Others, however, argue that cats simply do not enjoy the scent of bananas, as they are very fragrant. There is no real danger in using bananas as a natural way to chase away a cat, however, make sure your cat does not eat a banana peel. Due to the fact that the peel of a banana is very tough, this can cause digestive issues or in a worst-case scenario choking.

Now that you know about nine scents and smells that cats hate, it might be useful to know how you can use some of these smells in your advantage. Just to briefly repeat, safe smells to use to chase away cats are: Italian herbs, vinegar, cinnamon, minty smells (to a certain extent) and bananas.

Cat outside

How to use the dislike of certain smells in your advantage

Perhaps known by many, cats can be very active and stubborn. This therefore can cause them to use your house or apartment in whatever way they desire. We have heard from many readers that their cats like to dig into plants, pots and potting soil. So, do not be surprised if you come home to potting soil all over the place.

They will also dig into potting soil outside. So, if you like to have a neat garden or prevent that a cat digs into your plants, using a scent cats hate can help. As already stated above, a very easy trick is to stick a cinnamon stick into the potting soil of your plants or garden. Also, simply planting some Italian herbs, like rosemary or thyme, into your garden or backyard can do the trick.

Cats also like to use scratching posts. They do so for different reasons. In their nature, they use a scratching post to sharpen their nails, which allows them to catch a prey easier. However, it also helps them to relax and release some tension. If you do not have scratching post, it could very well be the case that your cat starts using your furniture as such. This might not be horrific if you want a chance of furniture, however many people will not enjoy this.

Therefore, spraying your couch or chairs (or any object for that matter) with vinegar or a minty scented spray can help. These scents will set your cat off and will therefore decrease the chance of them using any furniture as their new scratching post. However, do not spray too much, as this may cause unwanted behaviour or (minimal) health risks.

Cat nose

Conclusive remarks on scents that cats do not like

As we have raised in this article, there are various different scents or smells that cats hate or do not like. This is caused by the fact that they use their nose to classify scents as either safe or unsafe. Just to refresh your mind, the various smells that that cats do not like are:

  • Lavender or other familiar scents occurring in essential or aroma oils
  • Tangy smells, such as lemon, grapefruit and orange.
  • Italian herbs, like thyme, rosemary and oregano.
  • White vinegar, or other vinegar types (i.e. apple cider vinegar, white rice vinegar and red wine vinegar).
  • Coffee or coffee grounds.
  • Spices, such as cinnamon, chili, hot peppers.
  • Minty smells, in example mint, eucalyptus and menthol.
  • Bananas and their peels.

It is worth noting, though, that some of these scents and smells are actually dangerous for your, or any, cat to ingest. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to only use the following smells as an agent to chase away a cat: Italian herbs, vinegar, cinnamon, minty smells (to a certain extent) and bananas.

Lastly, we also talked about the ways you might use these safe scents to your advantage. Specifically, cinnamon sticks and planting Italian herbs can help with preventing your cat ruining your backyard or plants. As these scents are not liked by a cat, they will be less likely to dig around in potting soil. Another tip is to spray vinegar or a minty scented room spray onto your furniture, if your cat tends to use them as a scratching post. For both vinegar and a minty scented room spray, it is important to not spray too much. This can still overwhelm your cat and cause unwanted behaviour.

After reading about the different smells that cats hate, and how you might use them in and around your house, we want to know more about your personal experiences. Are there any scents that we have not mentioned that your cat absolutely hates? Or are there any other safe ways to chase away your cat from certain spaces or objects? Please let us know in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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