What scents do cats like? Do they like the same scents we do; could fresh laundry, roast chicken and cut roses be their ultimate purr-fume? Or do they like something else entirely unexpected, like dog poop (for argument’s sake)?
Cats have up to 200 million scent cells in their noses, whereas humans have just five million. That means cats have a sense of smell that’s 16 times stronger than ours. This puts their nose in the same smell-sensitive league as woman who’s pregnant!
Knowing what scents cats like and dislike can help you encourage good behaviour and discourage bad. For example, you can keep your cat from peeing on the sofa with a scent that keeps them away. Or you can promote them spending stimulating time in the garden by planting their favourites.
What scents do cats like and dislike? Let’s find out!
What scents do cats like (and love)?
As with peeps, cats have individual preferences. You might love the smell of freshly baked rolls while your friend loves the smell of dirt roads. Each to their own. That said, some safe bets will satisfy most cats. After all – most of us agree that the fresh coffee smells great, while rotten eggs are beyond the pale.
Here are cat scents your cat might like:
Herbs (catnip – you guessed it)
Catnip is a firm favourite among two-thirds of cats. It’s in their DNA (literally). That’s to say the cats who love the stuff have a hereditary tendency toward it that makes them genetically predisposed to it. Cats go stir crazy from a mere whiff. Or they don’t bat an eyelid.
Catnip is part of the mint family, so you could say cats have a fancy for herbs. Read what does catnip do to cats to get the full scoop on why your cat likes it.
If you want your cat to spend more time in your garden, here are some herbs cats love:
- Cat Thyme (see, it also has ‘cat’ in its name)
These herbs have lots of human uses too, not to mention they’ll make your garden smell heavenly.
What spicy scents do cats like?
Ever noticed your cat come to watch while you cook? You might assume they’re there out of interest for the chicken, fish or meat. This is probably true, but there’s more than meets the eye. While cats love a good protein fix you may be surprised to discover they’re in the kitchen to smell your cooking spices.
What’s more, it’s not just house cats who love the smell of certain spices, big cats like them too! Both our little cats and lions and tigers tend to like the smell of ginger and cinnamon. Again though, this is down to your cat’s individual olfactory preference. Even though cats can like these scents, some will steer clear.
Flower and plant scents that cats like
If you love spending time in the garden, you’ll be pleased to know there are many rewarding scents to get your cat to spend more time there too. While they won’t put on the gloves and start weeding, they’ll love smelling certain flowers and plants.
Like humans, cats love the smell of roses. Not only are these old favourites nice for a cat’s sense of smell, they’re even edible. So from time to time, you can give your cat BFF a rose or two. Valentine’s Day can also be ‘Felinetine’s Day’!
Other garden scents cats like include:
- Olive trees, oils and leaves (which can produce a similar effect to catnip)
While looking at what scents do cats like, an important consideration is avoiding plants that are toxic to pets. Also note that while aromatherapy smells good to us humans, find out are essential oils bad for dogs and cats.
Scents that cats don’t like
Maybe you have a neighbour cat you’d like to keep away from your cat or dog. Or an area of your garden you don’t want your cat to dig up. Whatever the reason, some smells can be used to safely repel cats.
- Coleus Canina
- Lemon Thyme
Cats tend to dislike all citrus smells, from oranges and grapefruit to lemon and limes. Let’s say your cat keeps jumping up to explore your cupboards. You’re worried about them falling off or knocking down your wine glasses.
Keep an orange or two on the shelf. Hey presto, everything’s safe and you get a zesty aromatic kitchen.
Cat insurance for a soft landing
They say cats have nine lives and always land on their feet. We now also know they can probably smell danger from a mile away. That said, accidents do happen and it’s wise to have pet insurance. That way, whether it’s a minor scrape or a major break, you can think about your cat rather than the cost.