8 Scents That Cats Hate

Mádi-Krezinger Cintia

2024. July 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

For your cat's comfort, here are the aromas you should avoid at home.


Unlike highly visual humans, cats primarily experience the world through their sense of smell. While we might find joy in the sight of a beautiful bouquet or a tastefully arranged fruit platter, with the scent merely enhancing the experience, our feline friends perceive home decorations primarily as sources of smell, which may not always be pleasant for them. Let’s see what smells cats hate.

There are certain odours cats cannot tolerate

Certain Smells Cats Hate

Cats have extremely sensitive noses — up to sixteen times more powerful than ours. While the human nasal lining covers about 4 square centimeters, a cat’s covers 20. Our modest 5 million olfactory receptors are dwarfed by a cat’s 200 million. Additionally, cats have the Jacobson’s organ, which further aids in their scent-based navigation.

Given the central role that scents play in a cat’s life, it’s important to note that a cat’s reaction to different smells can vary. The same scent can elicit different responses, and each cat’s unique personality and preferences also influence their behavior towards smells. Below is a list of aromas that most cats tend to dislike, though this doesn’t mean every cat hates them all.


He almost fell off the counter… #gaggingcat #funny #cat #scottishfold #scottishfoldcat #hercules

♬ original sound - Hercules the gagging cat

1.) Citrus fruits

Cats and dogs generally dislike citrus scents like orange, lemon, tangerine, lime, and grapefruit. They instinctively avoid them due to their overwhelming intensity, which can be shocking to them. Moreover, citrus fruits are toxic to cats, so most learn to stay away.

2.) Vinegar

Vinegar has a strong odor even for humans; imagine how intense it must be for a cat. While vinegar is not toxic, its strong acidic smell is off-putting to cats.

3.) Eucalyptus

Like citrus, cats also despise the scent of eucalyptus. This may be because ingesting the plant can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness in cats, leading them to instinctively avoid it.

The majority of cats do not like the smell of banana peel

4.) Banana

Bananas are not toxic, but most cats are repelled by them — especially the peel. This could be due to chemicals in the peel, like ethyl acetate extracts, which cats find repulsive.

5.) Mint and menthol

Despite mint being in the same botanical family as the beloved catnip, most cats hate mint. Mint is toxic to cats and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. While house cats typically dislike menthol (an organic compound found in various mint plants), interestingly, big cats are often attracted to its scent.

6.) Coffee

For many of us, the smell of morning coffee is a delightful part of our routine. However, cats instinctively dislike it because the caffeine in coffee is toxic to them. It can affect their gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system, and nervous system, potentially being fatal if not treated.


Morning coffee 🐱☕️💩🤷🏼‍♀️ #coffee #catsoftiktok

♬ original sound - Adrienne Good

7.) Red pepper, mustard and chilli

It’s no surprise that pungent spices are not popular with cats. Their instincts tell them that these are harmful, leading them to avoid areas where they can smell these spices.

8.) Detergents, disinfectants, deodorants and soaps

Cleaning agents, disinfectants, deodorants, air fresheners, and soaps contain many chemicals and strong fragrances that most cats dislike. Furthermore, many household products can be toxic if cats walk on treated surfaces and then ingest the chemicals while grooming. Always store these products safely out of your cat’s reach and keep your pet out of the area when cleaning.

cat sniffing smell unpleasant smells

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