9 Scents That Cats Hate And How to Use Them

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Cats have some of the most sensitive olfactory systems of any mammal. Therefore, Thoroughly exploring scents that cats hate and how to use them can assist pet parents in monitoring their cats’ poor behavior.

Continue reading to learn more about the fragrances cats despise and how to utilize them to monitor cats’ behavior. 

Scents that cats hate and How to use Them?

scents that cats hate and how to use them

Cats have a heightened sense of smell. They can be very sensitive to certain scents and tend to stay away from them. This olfactory functioning can prove to your advantage.

Discovering the fragrances that cats dislike and how to use them can help keep track of cats’ bad behavior.

It can help control future behavioral issues or keep cats out of non-cat-friendly areas.

For instance, Planting particular herbs can help dissuade a cat from exploring certain areas of your garden if it is overly fond of them. 

Similarly, if your cat scratches areas in your home that you would prefer it didn’t, placing the correct type of smell on them may naturally deter it from doing so rather than using chemical-laden cat repellents.

Some of the most common scents that repel cats are citrus scents, thyme, lavender oil, rosemary, vinegar, peppermint, and pine are among the most effective.

Besides controlling the cats’ bad behavior, knowing which fragrances cats despise can help you better understand their habits and preferences.

If you are trying to train your cat or raise a happy feline, understanding the preferences can be a great assistance.

9 Scents That Cats Hate

Enlisted below are nine scents that cats thoroughly dislike:


mint plant and cat

Peppermint is a popular essential oil that has a variety of benefits. One of these benefits is that it can be used to change cat behavior.

If your cat has been exhibiting unwanted behavior, you can try using peppermint as a deterrent. You can put it in their food or water or spray it around the house.

When diffused, peppermint will help keep your cat away from certain areas or objects in your home.

However, it is important to be aware of the dangers of peppermint and use it in moderation.

Peppermint can be harmful to cats if they consume or inhale too much of it. It can induce vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity.

Lavender, geranium, and eucalyptus

Ginger cat smells a bright lilac flower. Cozy spring morning at home. Cute background.

Cats have incredible olfaction and dislike the smell of lavender, geranium, and eucalyptus plants.

This can be used as a deterrent when training them or trying to keep them away from certain areas of your home.

You can also use these scents in products like candles or diffusers to create a more pleasant environment for yourself without worrying about your cat’s reaction.


Christmas tree branch on white.

Cats find pine to be extremely strong and avoid it; this is because pine has a high terpene content, making it very potent to animals, including cats.

Thereby one of the best-known ways to keep cats away is by using pine needles. You can place bunches or piles of pine needles in areas where cats seem to enter, such as doorways, porches, and staircases.

As an added bonus, the smell of pine is refreshing and will make your home smell nice too!

Besides that, you can gain further benefits from pine by planting any variety of these trees or hedge bushes around your property; this will help to deter cats from visiting your yard.

Citrus: orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit

While citrus fruits are considered edible for cats, the skins and plant material may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or dermatitis.

Cats typically hate the smell of citrus fruits; this is likely due to the essential oils present in these fruits that can irritate cats’ noses.

Therefore, using these in your home as a deterrent is a good idea if you are trying to keep your cat away from a certain area, spritzing a citrus scent on indoor fabric that you don’t want your cat scratching up.

White Vinegar

White wine vinegar, in front of apple and red wine vinegar

White distilled vinegar is the best repellent for cats because of its pungent, sour smell. It effectively discourages cats from entering certain areas in your house.

Dilute the vinegar with water according to your product’s specifications, and apply it using a spray bottle.

Vinegar’s strong odor will overwhelm a cat’s senses, preserving any target areas near doorways, garbage cans, or flower beds.

It’s crucial to remember that apple cider vinegar should be avoided at all costs.

It will not work as a repellent for cats because the scent is sweet and may attract them instead.


Rosemary is a culinary herb that has proven to help keep cats away from gardens and other areas.

According to the studies, the smell of rosemary repels cats, so using it in your garden or around your home can be a helpful way to deter them.

You can also use rosemary essential oil as a natural cat repellent.

Mint, wintergreen, and menthol 

While mint leaves may smell refreshing to humans, they can be quite overwhelming and even dangerous to cats.

Wintergreen and menthol also belong to the mint family, and they have a very strong scent that most cats hate.

They are known to be effective at repelling cats and other animals. If you want to keep your cat away from certain areas of your home or property, try diffusing one of these scents.

Banana and mustard

Bananas and other strongly scented fruits can cause cats to avoid an area. The scent of a ripe banana is so potent that it can keep cats away from an entire room.

If you are trying to keep your cat away from something, spraying a little bit of banana oil on the object should do the trick.

Be sure to avoid getting any in their eyes.

House Plants

Cats aren’t appreciative of a majority of indoor plants. These plants may be strategically put throughout the house to keep your cat out of specific places. Hardier varieties can also be planted outside to keep stray cats from your garden and other areas.

Many of these plants, like citrus, are effective natural cat deterrents. The following is a list of plants species that cats dislike:

  • Pennyroyal
  • Rue
  • Lemon thyme
  • Marigolds
  • Coleus Canina

Why do cats hate some smells?

An Isolated Striped Cat Sitting and Smelling to Grass in Pot

The olfactory system of a cat is far more sensitive than that of a human. 

According to the studies, a cat’s nose has 200 million olfactories (smell) receptors compared to 5 million in a human’s nose.

Thereby, harsh, spicy, and acidic aromas are too much for cats’ noses to bear since their sense of smell is acute. 

Many of these strong-smelling compounds are detrimental to felines, so they know they should strictly avoid them when they sniff them.

This behavior comes from their sharp predatory skills. 

Cats use their olfactory system to keep themselves informed about potential threats (predators or harmful substances) and sustenance; therefore, their brain acutely responds to unpleasant scents. 

For instance, Capsaicin, the fiery ingredient in peppers, can cause mouth and skin irritation as well as stomach problems in cats, so they avoid them when they smell them. 

What are some of the most prevalent cat behavior issues?

Many common cat behavior issues can be traced back to the cats’ natural tendencies and instincts.

The different types of cat behavior issues include 

  • urinating in unwanted places to mark their territory
  • causing damage to plants or scratching furniture
  • bringing an unwanted presence of fleas into the home, jumping on counters
  • And chewing on materials.

In order to help mitigate these problems, it is important to understand why your cat may be doing this and then take steps to correct the behavior.

Besides this, a common problem for pet owners is stray cats. They can be a nuisance to your pets and can cause them to behave differently.

They may not have any vaccinations and can easily spread diseases.

Additionally, they can be disruptive to the environment and cause problems for people trying to enjoy their property.

To keep your pets safe from these strays, you may need to take some precautions, such as cat repellants.

How To Fix Bad Cat Behaviors?

A young male cat is playfully tearing up tissue in the bathroom.  He is relaxed, mischievous and has a crazy look in his eyes as he is making a mess!  Image taken in Ko Lanta, Krabi, Thailand.

Cats can be very selective creatures and often have specific behaviors that they like and don’t like.

There are many different ways to try and deter bad cat behavior, but using scents that cats hate is one of the most effective methods.

Scents like citrus, vinegar, and peppermint can be used to keep cats away from certain areas or objects.

For example, Citrus smells like lemon or orange effectively keep cats away from furniture and other surfaces that they might scratch or jump on.

You can place a few drops of citrus oil on a cotton ball and put it near the areas where your cat likes to scratch.

However, another easy way to deter them from doing something is by using a sudden noise.

Loud noises can scare cats away since they have extremely sensitive hearing and are often startled by abrupt and loud noises.

Ultrasonic repellers are quite successful in keeping cats away from your home. Other loud noises, such as bells, clapping, and unexpected noises, will dissuade a cat from misbehaving.

Natural Remedies to Keep Cats Away

Aside from employing smells to deter cats, you have a few additional options based on your needs and requirements. 

While employing cat-repelling smells to keep cats away or halt unpleasant cat behavior is popular and successful, there are a few additional choices to consider.

Motion Sensor Lights

Cats hate loud noises and startle easily, so using lights or noise to keep them away from your property can be effective.

Some popular methods include installing a motion sensor light outside of your home or playing loud music near the areas where you don’t want the cats to go.

Secured Trash

One way to keep away neighborhood strays is to ensure your trash is well secured.

You can do this by using sturdy containers with tightly closed lids so that no smells can escape.

Additionally, administer scents that cats hate to keep them away from your trash. Lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus are all effective in deterring cats.

You can try spraying some of your favorite scents around your yard to deter them from coming near.


Cat pheromones are chemicals that cats use to communicate with each other. It also helps to calm cats.

One of the reasons cats misbehave is due to stress.

One way to help reduce unwanted behaviors in cats, such as spraying, scratching, and fighting, is by using devices that emit pheromones, which only cats can smell; this will help make them feel more comfortable and reduce their stress levels.

Several different pheromones are available, including collars, sprays, diffusers, sprays, and wipes.

Water Sprinklers

Using water sprinklers, you can protect your garden from your cat’s visits.

There are different types of sprinkler systems that exist to meet different needs. For example, there are lawn sprinklers, garden sprinklers, shrub sprinklers, and tree sprinklers.

Each system has a unique way of watering plants and keeping landscapes healthy.

This is done through an automatic setting or a manual one – you need to make sure that the sprinkler is pointed in the right direction!


Cats can be excellent pets, but if they are habitually exhibiting poor behavior, you can take precautions to prevent the same. The acute sense of smell that cats have comes in handy in this situation. 

You can use fragrances cat dislikes as a deterrent to keep your cat out of your garden or away from your furniture. 

The best approach is to use multiple methods to help keep unpleasant cat behaviors or presence at bay.







About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.