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Cats are known for their obsession with grooming and often spend up to 30% of the day licking their fur to keep it clean and shiny. They also demand a clean environment and if they find areas they consider stinky, they quickly avoid them. So what are the smells cats hate?

Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. Their noses, although small, are equipped with a bony material that traps air – and therefore odours – that then comes into contact with their olfactory cells. It gives them all kinds of information about their surroundings.

Cats are very good at identifying smells and they find some especially unpleasant.


A classic example is the litter box, dirty ones are particularly offensive to them. And who can blame them! So beware! If the litter box is dirty the cat may abandon it and use some other part of the house – a bed or flower box – for its needs.


Some flowers we humans think smell great are anathema to cats, they hate them. Like eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and rue. These are sometimes even used as a natural, non-toxic repellent by those who are allergic to cats or simply want to keep them out of their gardens.


Cats do not like spicy smells. Their noses sense them as being toxic. So unless you want to see your cat run away, avoid using pepper, chilli peppers, mustard and curry.


The pungent aroma and taste of citrus fruit – whether it’s a lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit – are repugnant to cats. While for us they are clean and refreshing smells, it has a completely different effect on cats. If you are peeling a lemon in the kitchen, you can be sure your cat will be elsewhere!

Have you noticed that your cat is repulsed by these smells? Or are they so special they love them?

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