What Smells Do Cats Hate? Here’s The Complete List [ Updated ]

Cats are known to have a highly developed sense of smell. They can identify odors that are not significantly distinguishable for humans.

Their sense of smell is even stronger than dogs. Therefore, they do not welcome all kinds of scents and are very selective about their preferences. Cats hate certain smells, and it makes them irritable and stressed.

What smells do cats hate?

Here is a list of the familiar scents available in almost every household that are disliked mainly by cats:

1. Citrus Smells


Cats are not the biggest fans of citric smells like oranges, lemons, etc. Although humans might find such aromas pleasant and helpful in calming the nerves, it is considered pungent by our feline friends.

If you are peeling lemons or an orange, you would often notice that your cat flees from the room and stays as far away as possible.

If the cat is exposed to citrus smells for a long time, it might upset their stomach and decrease appetite.

Vomiting and diarrhea are common conditions that occur if the cats ingest any acidic substance or inhale it in large quantities.

2. Spicy smells


Spices like pepper, cinnamon, chill, etc. have a powerful smell. Cats mostly dislike these smells as they irritate their sensitive noses.

It is essential to avoid using spices like freshly ground pepper and chilies near the cat, as they are sure to run away instantly.

Certain herbs like cinnamon are harmless to the cat, but spices like chili and pepper could burn their eyes and noses and have the potential to harm them.

3. Lavender


The sensitive noses of cats dislike strong floral scents, which are usually favored by people. Lavender is used by people to relieve stress and anxiety and to cure headaches.

But, this smell is not effective in the same way to cats as they detest the smell. Owners can use lavender scent on particular objects that they do not want the cat loitering around.

It should be used in a limited quantity as excessive inhalation of lavender can be toxic to the cat.

4. Banana

Cats do not like the smell of nutritious bananas. They dislike the taste as well as the scent of the fruit. They do not prefer anything that has a flavor of banana to it.

It acts as a natural cat repellant and can keep the cats away from specific areas.

The smell of bananas is not harmful to the cat in any way, except that it might annoy your beloved pet.

5. Eucalyptus

Cats dislike the smell of certain plants and plant-based products like eucalyptus. The chemical composition of eucalyptus contains certain substances that might be potentially dangerous to the cat.

They are well aware of the toxicity of these plants and stay away from them.

If your cat inhales such a smell in a large quantity, it can irritate their skin and make them nauseous.

6. Dirty litter box

Cats hate an unhygienic litter box as much as the owner hates having them in the house. They need a clean litter box every day for sanitary purposes.

They hate the smell of a dirty litter box and get very annoyed by it.

They will stay away from the box as much as possible and start to look for other places to drop their feces.

7. Common herbs

Most cats mainly dislike certain commonly available herbs like rosemary, thyme, wintergreen, and rue.

If you have such herbs growing in your garden, they stay away from the place as the odor irritates them. Rue can be toxic to the cat and should be kept away from it.

8. Disinfectants

If you use disinfectants and cleaners in your house with a powerful scent, your cat might hate it. As their smelling capacity is powerful, fragrant cleansers can be irritating to them.

It would help if you opted for cleaners with minimal odors to help the cat stay calm and happy.

You should also avoid using such disinfectants when your cat is present in the same room or close.

9. Essential Oils:

Essential oils are one of the products that you should keep far away from any cat. It is quite true that cats hate the smell of essential oils. A high quantity of aroma-inducing agents in the essential oils can easily overpower the sharp sense of the cat’s nose.

The smell of essential oil is too strong for cats, so cats do not like the smell of these products. However, there is a much bigger threat to essential oils than to smell them.

You should keep essential oils far away from any of your cats, as they can have severe poisoning due to them. Experts call it essential oil poisoning, as the absence of liver enzymes to digest essential oil makes it susceptible to cause liver diseases. Apart from that, cats can also have burn effects inside their mouth and tongue if they ingest it.

10. Spoiled Fish:

A cat detest towards spoiled fishes is much more ancestral than we would like to accept. If you bring a spoiled fish near a cat who hasn’t been exposed to such odor ever in its lifetime, the cat will run away instantly.

The household cats are descendants of the wild cats, who had to survive in the wild. There was a greater risk of their food getting bad due to heat and moisture. As a result, they developed a deep sense of recognition towards spoiled food. As fish is one of the primary sources of protein to these cats, they can recognize the smell of rotten or spoiled fish from far away.

As a result, your cat likely hates the smell of spoiled fish as well. It is quite true for any cat in your household or the wild.

11. Coffee and Tea Grounds:

Coffee and tea grounds can also have similar effects on the cat as the smell might seem too strong. While it is true for many cats, I have seen that some cats couldn’t care less about coffee or tea grounds.

12. Skunk:

Cats have a particularly strong disgust towards the smell of skunk spray. As cats were wild at some point in the past, they had to beware of potential sprays from a skunk.

Coleus Canina (Or, Scaredy Cat Plant”) secretes a special type of smell that is very close to a skunk’s spray. Many house owners use it as a means to steer cats and dogs away from their houses. However, the smell can even be stronger for any human being. So, think hard before using such smelly products.

13. Soaps and Fragrances:

Some cats can have strong reactions to the odor of soaps and different fragrances in general. If you use any soap with a chemical smell, you might have difficulty keeping your cat close to you.

The relation between fragrances and cats is quite complicated. It is hard to say whether your cat would like a particular fragrance or not. While I have seen many cats hate a particular fragrance, others love it. So, you can only try when it comes to fragrances.

Frequently asked Questions

1. Do cats hate the smell of vinegar?

Some people consider vinegar a natural cat repellant, but it does not substantially affect all cats.

Cats might dislike the smell of concentrated vinegar, but they are not usually bothered by diluted vinegar.

Full vinegar is pure acetic acid and should not be used near cats under any circumstances.

However, cats might get irritated if you keep using vinegar repetitively as the smell is certainly not it’s favorite.

2. Do cats hate the smell of tea tree oil?

Cats dislike certain essential oils like tea tree oil. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), cats are especially sensitive to essential oils’ smells and can be toxic.

Tea tree oil can cause kidney and liver damage in cats[1], and could also result in organ failures.

If you have cats in your home, you should not invest your money in diffusers and essential oils as they might harm your pet.

3. Do cats hate the smell of bleach?

No, cats do not hate the smell of bleach. Instead, some cats are crazy over the smell of bleach, and they cannot help sniffing and rolling all over it.

Some believe that cats love the smell of bleach because its smell is somewhat similar to cat pheromones or substances that the cat loves.

Hence, they cannot help getting attracted to the smell of bleach.

However, too much exposure to bleach can be harmful to the cat’s health. So better to keep away from bleach products as they tend to get addicted to the smell.


Since cats have a heightened sense of smell, the owner needs to be very careful in selecting scented products for the house.

You should be well aware of the scents that your cat likes or dislikes and choose your items of daily needs accordingly.

You should avoid perfumes, soaps, deodorants, etc. with a powerful smell as it might be stressful and irritating to the cat.

The odors that are disliked by cats can be used in a limited quantity as cat repellants to keep the animal away from particular furniture, gardens, etc.


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