Keep Your Cat Happy by Avoiding These 20 Smells

Written By Jill Taylor

As any cat owner can tell you, our feline companions are sensitive creatures who can be pretty picky about their environment. Certain smells can make them uncomfortable, stressed, or even be dangerous for their health. To help you avoid any scents that may upset your kitty, we’ve compiled 20 smells that cats typically hate.


Photo Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Bleach has a strong smell that most cats can’t stand. What’s more, according to the MSD Veterinary Manuel, breathing in bleach fumes can cause significant health issues such as breathing problems. To avoid this, it’s better to use gentler cleaning products and keep bleach away from places your cat hangs out.

Citrus Fruits

Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Even some humans can find certain citrus fruits overpowering, so it’s no wonder our sensitive feline friends do too. Fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits give off a strong scent that many cats can’t stand. The acidic smell can be especially overwhelming for their sensitive noses, so it’s best to keep citrus-scented items as far away from them as possible.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

While some people love vinegar for its potent, sharp odor, the same can’t be said for cats, who find it utterly repulsive. Using vinegar as a cleaning agent or deodorizer around parts of your house can put  your cat off hanging out there. For this reason, it’s best to avoid using vinegar near their favorite spots.


Photo Credit: chemical industry/Shutterstock

If you’ve done a lot of cleaning around your pets, you may know that cats really dislike the strong, pungent smell of ammonia. Using ammonia-based cleaners can cause health issues or remind them of urine, which might stress them out or confuse them. To keep your home more comfortable and inviting for your furry friend, try using non-ammonia cleaning products instead.


Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Many of us love the refreshing smell of essential oils like eucalyptus oil. However, for cats, it’s simply too strong and menthol-like, and the scent can irritate their sensitive noses. To keep your cat relaxed and avoid any health issues, you should avoid storing anything eucalyptus-scented where they can reach them.


Photo Credit: AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Lavender may be calming for humans, but many cats find it way too intense. Its strong, floral scent can make them uncomfortable and irritate their eyes and noses. This is why it’s usually recommended to keep lavender-scented things far away from your feline friend.


Photo Credit: Madeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock

Most humans love the minty fresh smell of peppermint, so it’s easy to assume that cats do too. But in reality, the menthol in it can irritate their noses and cause significant discomfort. For this reason, it’s best to avoid using peppermint-scented products around your cat and opt for fragrances that are safe for pets instead.


Photo Credit: EKramar/Shutterstock

Cinnamon has a warm, spicy smell that many people enjoy, but it can be too strong for cats, often making them uncomfortable and irritated. Keeping cinnamon-scented items like candles or potpourri out of your cat’s favorite spots will help keep them happy and stress-free.


Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Pine scents, which can be found in many cleaning products and air fresheners, aren’t as pleasant to cats as they are to us. The sharp smell can be too much for their noses, making them hesitant to hang out nearby. To keep your cat comfortable, avoid using pine-scented products as much as possible.


Photo Credit: AmyLv/Shutterstock

It’s no secret that humans love menthol in many different products, especially cough drops and ointments. However, the strong scent that many humans love is actually very off putting to cats, irritating their noses and eyes. This is why it’s a good idea to keep  menthol products away from your cat’s favorite spots to help them feel more at ease.


Photo Credit: melei5/Shutterstock

The rich smell of coffee may be a human favorite, but the same definitely can’t be said for cats. The intense aroma might be overwhelming for them and cause discomfort. To give your cat a better chance of feeling content and at home, avoid leaving coffee grounds or beans within their reach.


Photo Credit: Emily Marie Wilson/Shutterstock

Cats really hate the smell of tobacco from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. The lingering smoke and strong odor stress them out and can cause breathing problems. Keeping your home smoke-free creates a healthier environment for your feline friend.


Photo Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock

Strong perfumes and colognes can really overwhelm cats with their intense smells. The mix of fragrances can easily irritate their sensitive noses, causing them discomfort or stress. To avoid upsetting your cat, try applying these scented products in rooms they don’t frequent or make sure there’s good ventilation.

Cleaning Chemicals

Photo Credit: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

Harsh cleaning chemicals have strong odors that cats find repulsive. Disinfectants and floor cleaners can be too intense. Opting for milder, pet-friendly cleaning solutions makes the atmosphere more pleasant for your cat.

Rotten Food

Photo Credit: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

The smell of rotten food is unpleasant for everyone, including cats. The decaying odor causes significant distress. Regularly disposing of garbage and removing spoiled food keeps your home comfortable for your cat.

Skunk Spray

Photo Credit: Jemini Joseph/Shutterstock

Skunk spray has a famously foul odor that is extremely offensive to cats. The pungent smell can cause severe discomfort. Keeping your cat away from areas where skunks are common protects them from this nasty experience.


Photo Credit: Olesya sh/Shutterstock

Garlic has a strong, lingering aroma that many cats find unbearable. The smell sticks to hands, breath, and cooking utensils. Handle garlic carefully and keep it away from your cat’s living spaces to avoid causing discomfort.


Photo Credit: rukxstockphoto/Shutterstock

The strong smell of onions can be really overwhelming for cats. That sharp odor can be uncomfortable and even cause irritation, just like they can for humans. To keep your cat happy and content, try to store and handle onions away from their favorite spots.

Spicy Foods

Photo Credit: Paul Brian Kiser/Shutterstock

Cats dislike the strong, pungent aromas of spicy foods, and combinations of spices can be especially overwhelming. Keeping spicy foods and their ingredients out of your cat’s reach helps maintain a more pleasant environment.

Certain Essential Oils

Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Some essential oils, like tea tree and clove oil, have strong odors cats dislike. These concentrated scents are too intense for their sensitive noses. We recommend using essential oils with caution and keeping them away from areas your cat frequents.

Up Next: Do You Know Your Rights? 17 Things You Don’t Have to Answer When Stopped by Police

Photo Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

The thought of getting stopped by the police is a nerve-wracking prospect for most people. It can be even worse if you’re not sure what you should and shouldn’t say, creating a sense of paranoia, anxiety, and confusion. If you’re worried about the potential for a confrontation with the cops, we’re here to help. This list covers 17 things you don’t have to answer when stopped by police officers.

Do You Know Your Rights? 17 Things You Don’t Have to Answer When Stopped by Police

18 Things That Say You Are Middle-Class and Not Rich

Photo Credit: BearFotos/Shutterstock

The difference between the rich and middle class can be confusing, but the two couldn’t be further from each other in reality. In this article, we look at 18 signs that someone is middle class but not at all rich or wealthy.

18 Things That Say You Are Middle-Class and Not Rich

18 Reasons You Feel Like You Don’t Belong Anywhere

Photo Credit: Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

Feeling like you don’t belong anywhere can feel incredibly isolating. We need companionship to keep us connected to the world, so if you’re struggling to form relationships and don’t feel that you don’t fit in, here are 18 reasons why that might be.