A cat’s sense of smell is about fourteen times as powerful as that of a human. The domestic cat owes that sensitivity to its simply having far more scent receptors than do humans.
According to the “Cats International” website, a cat’s nose contains 200 million cells that are sensitive to odors, while humans have a meager five million. Cats use their keen noses to identify people, animals, and objects in their area.
That sensitivity can lead to some surprising behaviors. For example, a cat owner who has visited a friend with a very affectionate cat may be greeted by hissing from their own cat – which can smell the other cat and isn’t happy.
Cats also don’t always like the smell of scented cat litter and may thus stop using the litter box – at least until their owner replaces the litter with something that smells less offensive.
Not only do cats have a stronger sense of smell than do humans, but they also strongly dislike certain scents – including some scents people find attractive.
How important is a cat’s sense of smell to it?
Very. According to a staff writer for the “Cat Training” website, cats use their keen sense of smell for a variety of purposes.
In addition to their nose, cats have another olfactory organ called the Jacobson’s organ or the vomeronasal organ that enables them to detect pheromones that serve as chemical forms of communication.
Cats use their sense of smell to detect predators, potential mates, and rivals. They also use it to detect prey while hunting. Even newborn kittens can use their sense of smell to locate their mother and the teat they will nurse from.
Cats also use their sense of smell to detect messages left by other cats. A female in heat will produce pheromones that will draw males to her.
Similarly, a male cat will spray and thus alert other cats in the area of his presence and physical condition; cats can smell the difference between a healthy cat and a sick one.
Why is it important to know what smells cats hate?
A staff writer for the website “Easyology Pets” notes that many of the odors that cats dislike fall into two categories.
They are either things like mint or lavender that are poisonous to cats, or they are non-toxic items that can be used to repel cats.
Anybody who has gotten frustrated with the local feral cats using their flower garden as a litterbox would probably want a harmless method of keeping them away.
The writer also notes that most essential oils are toxic to cats, and many essential oils have aromas that cats dislike.
Which smells do cats hate?
Kelly Roper, a writer for the website “Love To Know,” lists ten smells that cats hate. First off, they dislike the smell of unfamiliar cats. While cats can tolerate the smell of other cats in the household, they really dislike the smell of strangers.
Josie Turner, who writes for “Animal Wised,” notes that cats are extremely territorial and thus get upset when unfamiliar cats intrude on their territory.
Cats hate the smell of a dirty litterbox. If her owner doesn’t clean the litterbox, a cat will eventually decide to do her business somewhere else – like on the new carpet.
Cats also dislike the smell of rotten meat, especially rotten fish. While they happily eat fresh fish, rotten fish can make them ill or even kill them.
Cats hate the smell of citrus fruit to the point that people can use the juice or peels as a cat repellent. They also dislike the scent of certain vegetables like onions and tomatoes.
Cats hate the smell of spicy foods, including the stronger pepper varieties. To them, strong spices like curry, mustard, and pepper all smell like poisons.
Cats will thus avoid strong peppers, whether they are fresh or ground. By contrast, some cats will actually eat sweeter peppers like bell peppers.
Cats hate the smell of bananas, possibly because they can detect the potassium in them, and potassium chloride is an ingredient used in many feline medications. To a cat, a banana could have an unpleasant “medicine” smell.
Some people will rub banana peels on their furniture to keep their cat from scratching it.
Cats dislike many floral scents, including that of lavender, which can also be used to repel cats and keep them away from certain pieces of furniture. They also dislike the smell of mint, for the menthol in it irritates their noses.
Mint is poisonous to cats, but a cat would have to eat a lot of it for the mint to harm it. Eucalyptus is another toxic plant with aroma cats find offensive.
Cats hate the smell of many household cleaners, such as air fresheners and soaps. The odors from such products tend to be too strong for a cat’s sensitive nose.
What things are poisonous to cats?
The staff writer for “WebMD” lists a variety of items that are toxic to cats.
First off, many human medicines like antidepressants, cold medications, vitamins, and pain relievers are toxic to cats.
While a few medications can be shared by humans and cats, it’s best to discuss the matter with the vet first. Remember, cats are a lot smaller than people, so they need smaller doses of medicine than a human will.
Human foods that can poison a cat include caffeine, alcohol, grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, garlic, and yeast dough. Some of these items also smell bad for cats.
Various house and garden plants are also poisonous to cats. Examples include tulips, poinsettias, lilies, and hyacinths.
Many household chemicals including insecticide, bleach, antifreeze, and fertilizers. While some of these have odors cats find objectionable, others actually smell or taste attractive to cats. For example, cats think antifreeze tastes delicious – but even a small dose can kill.
What should you do if your cat has been poisoned?
In most cases, a cat has that been poisoned will show symptoms very quickly. In other cases, the symptoms will develop gradually.
Such symptoms can include seizures, vomiting, trouble breathing, tremors, dilated pupils, drooling, and weakness.
A poisoned cat needs to be taken to the vet immediately. The owner should also bring the suspected poison plus the cat’s vomit or stool, so the vet can verify the cat was poisoned and decide on the appropriate treatment.
Do cats like scented cat litter?
According to Jason Nicholas, a veterinarian who writes for “Preventive Vet,” cats prefer unscented cat litter.
The perfumes used in scented litters are often too powerful for a cat’s sensitive nose. They appeal more to the humans who don’t like the smell of cat urine and stools.
Dr. Nicholas notes that cats have two main criteria for acceptable litter: It has to be odorless and it has to have smaller particles. He uses an analogy to explain cats’ preferences for litters with small particles.
Walking on the litter with large particles like pellets or crystals would be similar to walking on a rocky beach while walking on a litter with smaller particles would be comparable to walking on a sandy beach. It is simply more comfortable for the cat to use a litter with smaller particles.
In addition, cats’ ancestors used to live in the desert and were used to burying their waste in the sand.
A litter with small particles thus has the added advantage of resembling the sand cats prefer. Cat also prefer litter that clumps.
Fortunately, there are many types of cat litter available, so an owner shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that will please both feline and human.
Many cat litters absorb odors at least to some degree. People can also add activated charcoal or baking soda to cat litter to lessen the smell.
Dr. Nicholas also recommends several brands of litters to suit the needs of cats and humans. He even includes litters for cats and humans with special needs.
For example, both species can develop asthma, and litter dust can irritate the lungs and trigger an attack. Fortunately, there are low-dust litters available.
There are also litter attractants that make the cat litter smell more attractive to cats and encourage them to use it.
It’s particularly helpful for kittens that are just learning how to use a litter box. It can also help senior cats that sometimes forget they are supposed to be housebroken.