Smells That Cats Hate

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If you are a pet parent, you might have noticed that pets such as cats and dogs have an undeniably strong sense of smell. However, the cat’s sense of smell is by far the strongest one. A cat’s smell sense is 200 times stronger than the human’s sense. In addition to that, their nasal cavity contains more than 200 million scent receptors, which is far more than the number of scent receptors which some breeds of dogs, for example, have in their nasal cavities.

Your little paw friend might have a cute nose, but the smelling sense which that nose provides is the one that leads it to prey, hunt, find its way back home, let your cat know where you have been, and find out whether the food in front of it is edible or toxic before digesting it. Therefore, if a cat’s sense of smell is that strong, they must be sensitive as well to certain scents, therefore, what are the scents that can repel a cat? Can cats be allergic to some odors? Moreover, what are the smells that cats hate?

NOTE: We want to inform our blog readers that before we publish any article, the team “Proudcatowners” does deep research based on experience and knowledge about cats and everything related to them, to guarantees reliable and precise information, satisfy the readers is our first priority.

What are the most common smells that cats hate?

As much as we love our cats and we wish they would resemble us and like the same things as us, cats do not like the same smells that humans do. Any strong smell would make your cat take a step back or even leave the room in a hurry, for example, a new perfume you got, which you love and wear too often, if this perfume’s smell is too strong, it will bother your cat. In addition to that, there are other smells in the kitchen or smells of products in your bathroom, which your cat cannot tolerate.

Here is a list of some familiar smells that cats hate, which you did not know about:

A dirty litter box

As you know, cats are very clean animals, they clean themselves regularly, and they make sure they maintain good hygiene, just like humans. As animals, however, one might think that they would not care about the litter box that much, but it is quite the opposite. Cats do not like the smell of a dirty litter box that has not been cleaned in a while. If this happens, and you forget to clean your cat’s litter box, the smell of it would repel your cat, and make it avoid it. Your cat will end up using the bathroom elsewhere, in places you would not appreciate.

What should I do if my cat is avoiding the litter box?

If your cat is avoiding the litter box, make sure you check if it is clean enough or not, and clean it for your cat again. If your cat still avoids its clean litter box, it might be an underlying medical problem such as an infection or an inflammation, or that the litter box is too small. If you notice any awkward symptoms or unusual behavior from your cat towards the litter box use, you should consult your veterinarian for proper medical advice.

The smell of a newcomer, or an outsider

When it comes to our feline friends, the unique scent of cats is what determines the relationship between them, and whether these little creatures will treat each other as strangers or recognize each other and act like friends. Most times, cats are okay with other cats they are familiar with, because they got used to their smell.

However, if you bring a new cat or even a new kitten to the house, with a distinct scent that your cat is not familiar with, it will act out because of that. The smell of a new cat around the house would make your cat worried and nervous, which will possibly make it remark its territory all over again. The original cat of the house could start leaking all over the house and spray the entire place, which creates another smell that no one likes, especially you.

Something is fishy!

cats hate the smell of bad fish

Although we said before that cats do not like the same smells that humans like, cats and humans can agree upon some bad odors, such as bad fish. Cats are like us, they can notice if a particular food does not smell right, and since their smelling sense is much higher and more reliable than the human one, they are even better at detecting lousy food than humans. Your cat will know if the food you are presenting to it is terrible or not.

If it is spoiled or expired, your cat will notice, and it will avoid eating it. However, if you manage to find a way to feel spoiled leftovers of fish or any other kind of meat to your cat, it will lead to severe health conditions.

Not a fan of this fruit nor that vegetable

Although humans might not love the smells of certain fruits and vegetables, cats hate the smell of certain ones. Such as onions and tomatoes. Here is a fun fact, tomatoes are considered a type of fruit! Unfortunately, it is a fruit that your cat does not like the smell of it.

One of the most distinct smells of fruits, which cats majorly dislike, is the smell of bananas. That could be due to the level of potassium in the banana. If you need to give your cat any medication, which contains potassium chloride, or you are taking it yourself, make sure you are careful with your cat around it, because it mimics the smell of bananas. A small trick through which this can come in handy in saving your furniture!

Some people rub the banana peel of their furniture to prevent their cat from biting or scratching it, which could save you a lot of trouble.

Another noticeable smell that cats hate, but humans tend to love, is citrus fruits smell, such as lemons, oranges, or even grapes. These latter are known to have an overpowering scent which can be too much for a cat to handle, because of its sensitive and powerful smelling sense.

Subjecting your cat to these smells constantly or up close will be an assault to its smelling sense. Despite the shared hate of these fruits’ aroma among the majority of cats, someones enjoy tasting it. However, be careful, grapes are toxic to cats. The citrus spray could also help you save your favorite couch from your cat.

 Are onions and tomatoes toxic to cats in addition to being smelly?

smells that cats hate in food

There are some toxic foods that you should not feed your cat, whether or not it likes the smell of these foods, such as onions, garlic, chocolate, and grapes.

Cats also do not like fruits in general, because they do not have many receptors for sweet stuff. However, some healthy fruits and vegetables would be a great addition to your cat’s diet, even if your cat were not a big fan of their smell. Here are some fruits and vegetables, which are beneficial for your cat, and could work as an excellent snack for it:

  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Green bell peppers

Do not take a mint, take a hint!

Fresh mint is one of the most refreshing smells that humans enjoy, whether as candy, menthol, ointment, or oil. Moreover, most of us take mints to keep a refreshing breath and expel lousy odor from our mouths. However, cats beg to differ.

Fresh mint is one of the most disliked smells that cats do not stand. If your cat inhales fresh mint or even takes a small sniff from it, it will cause a lot of irritation for the cat’s nose and make your cat run away and hide. In addition to that, mint can toxic to cats, especially if your cat consumes or ingests large amounts of it. Your cat does not enjoy mint at all, so try to avoid it ear your cat at all costs.

Spicy peppers

avoid spicy peppers in your cat's food

Even though some humans enjoy spicy food and variable spices in their cooking, some do not. Some people prefer to stay away from spicy food, and they avoid adding any spices to their cuisine, which is good luck for their cats, unlike the first category. Cats do not like spices, they do not like the smell of, the feeling of it, nor the taste of it. If you have anything with a small “kick” to it, your cat will not be pleased with it and will avoid it as much as possible.

Do not give your cats any spicy food in include spices in their diet. However, there are some cases in which cats enjoy spicy meals since they are usually meat-based meals. So if your cat approached you and tried to steal some of your spicy food, there is no harm in letting it try some, as long as does not has any health effects or causes any medical conditions on your cat.

Can I add hot sauce to my cat’s food?

Hot sauce is not necessarily toxic to cats as long as it is not given in large amounts, however, it is not really an appropriate food to give your cat or add to its diet. Hot sauce, as well as other spicy foods, can cause abdominal pain to your cay, and provoke an upset stomach.

What spices does my cat hate the most?

Your cat, as well as any other cat, does not like the scent of garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, onions, and chives. Not only that these ingredients irritate your cat’s sensitive nose, but they are also toxic and could lead to health issues if your cat ingests them.

Can spicy food kill my cat?

Even though most cats would avoid and run away from the chili scent, their taste buds are not as sensitive as their smelling senses. It can be harmful to them, however, so limit any spicy intake around them.

No cinnamon oil for me!

Cinnamon, although very pleasing for most humans, the smell of it is not tolerated by the feline creatures. You might feel tempted to use cinnamon or cinnamon oil around your cat to lighten up the mood, but that would only make your cat avoid it and run away.

It is the same thing for lavender oil, and many other essential oils. Cinnamon oil, although healthy for your skin, can be toxic for your cat. Therefore, avoid leaving it around your cat or using it when your cat is nearby.

Cats do not like hanging out around certain plants

Even though we all love to have some plants around the house for fresh oxygen and great smell, our cats might not agree with all the plants we put on our shelves. Cats are not big fans of some plants such as lavender, geranium, rue, lemon thyme, Rosemary, lilies, or absinthe.

These floral scents are massive irritators for your paw friend’s sensitive nose. Although lavender is pleasant for humans, it is quite unpleasant for cats, you could use it as a deterrent, however, you must be cautious about the amount you use, because too much of it can be toxic to your cat, which something that no cat parent would want.

Another plant that can be toxic to your cat is also the lilies, not only do cats dislike the smell, they can also have an allergic reaction to lilies, which could be lethal to your cat.

Your household bleach and other cleaners

Although these products help us kill bacteria and germs, their smell can be too intense for even humans, not to mention cats with their sensitive little noses and strong-smelling senses.

Cats dislike the odors of any standard cleaning product you use around the household, especially if it has a strong smell that stings the senses, these products include some kinds of soaps and even air fresheners.

So, if you want to get rid of some bad smell, even if your cat causes it, avoid using these products in your cat’s presence.

Try to use cleaning products with a gentler scent to them, so that your cat would not run away and avoid any place they are used or sprayed.

In addition to that, be careful about which product you use to clean your cat’s litter box, unless you want to make your brand-new rug their new comfort zone to take nature’s call because strong bleach smells, for example, would make your cat avoid its litter box.

In addition to being irritating to your cat’s sensitive nose, these chemical products are also extremely toxic for your cat if it comes to contact with them. If your cat ingests any of those cleaning products, it could lead to poisoning and put your cat in a critical medical condition, mover, they can provoke allergies in your cat’s skin.

Can my cat be allergic to smells?

Since cats have a much stronger smelling sense than we do, they are more sensitive to certain perfumes than we are, and this could manifest in the form of perfume allergy. If your cat is overly sensitive to a particular smell, it will eventually develop to an allergy.

What should I do?

Try to wear softer perfumes, fewer deodorants or less cologne to avoid irritating your cat, and if it has a strong allergy, it is best to avoid strong scents and strong perfume entirely.

How can I repel a cat without causing it any harm?

If you have too many stray cats in your backyard, or your indoor cat keeps getting into fights with other cats each time you let it out for some fresh air, there are ways to get rid of those cats nicely.

You can keep your cat indoors so that it will not be affected. However, in case you are not a cat person, but cats still annoy you and love to hang out near your house, here some effective natural cat repellents you can make at home, and use them anytime:

Garlic, Pepper, and Lemon

As the name suggests, garlic, pepper, and lemon are the main ingredients for the first natural cat repellent we will be talking about in this article. First, you start by adding one teaspoon of dry mustard, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of black pepper or cayenne into a 59 ml spray bottle.

After that, add a crushed garlic clove to the bottle, then add in 4 drops of lemon (you can substitute it with wild orange or grapefruit essential oil) essential oil. Then move the ingredients inside the bottle and add enough water, then mix the ingredients all together well in the spray bottle.


Add one part white vinegar and one part water into a spray bottle, and make sure you mix them well. After that, add one part liquid hand soap to the mix you got, and mix it all until you a consistent mixture. Once the repellent is ready, use it on the areas you want, you can either use it indoor or outdoor spots.

Citronella oil

First, you have to add water into a spray bottle (preferably a glass spray bottle), after that, add 20 drops of citronella oil to the spray bottle and make sure you shake it until it is well mixed. Once you are done preparing this natural product, spray it on whichever area you would like. This would keep cats away from your property since they dislike the scent of citronella. This natural repellent can also help you in keeping insects away.


To make this kind of kind repellent, you must first boil 2 cups of water, after that add one cup of orange peel, one cup of lemon peel, one cup of lime peel, and one cup of tangerine peel (the tangerine peel of optional). Once you add all of those into the pot of boiling water, turn down the heat to medium, and let sit in the water for 20 minutes.

After that, turn off the heat, let the mixture cool down for about 30 minutes, and then pour it into a spray bottle. The last step is to add two teaspoons of lemon juice, and two squirts of citrus-scented dish soap, and shake the spray bottle very well until all the ingredient are well mixed. Spray this formula on the key areas in your house, which you want to keep cats away from.

Essential oils

Add 2 drops of lemon essential oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 drops of orange essential oil to a 59 ml spray bottle. It is preferable to use a glass bottle instead of a plastic one because that would keep the essential oils from degrading fast. After adding the essential oils to the glass spray bottle, add enough water into it until it fills up, close it tightly, and shake it the ingredients very well until you make sure they give you a consistent mixture.


Cats have a powerful sense of smell, which is much stronger than the human one. Cats are more sensitive to odors, and there are many scents that they hate, which humans might enjoy. Some smells would come as a surprise to us, such as cinnamon, lavender, and tomatoes.

However, cats also agree with some humans on certain irritating smells, such as a dirty litter box, cleaning products, some plants, spices, and certain perfumes. These smells such as the ones mentioned, in addition to garlic, onions, chives, could also be toxic to your cat, in addition to being assaulted to their smelling senses.

If your cat’s small sensitive nose cannot handle a specific smell frequently, it can develop into an allergy, such as perfume allergies. Some allergies can be very toxic and even fatal to your cat, such as lilies.

If you are not a cat person, or there are too many stray cats that keep annoying you, or your cat keeps chewing on your favorite expensive furniture, here are some natural cat repellents you can make at home from common everyday ingredients, which cats do not like, such as Garlic, Pepper, and Lemon cat repellent.

You can also rub banana peels on your furniture since cats dislike the smell of banana, mostly because of the potassium levels in it. You must be cautious when using cleaning materials or spices around your cat, in addition to other ingredients that your cat dislikes because it can cause some medical conditions for your cat.

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