close up of ginger cat's nose to enjoy scents they like!

Scents Cats Like: Not Just Catnip!

There are scents cats like and scents they don’t. And just like you might use the ones they dislike to discourage them from peeing on your couch or scratching your furniture, you can use scents cats like for training, reward, and pure spoiling. Or is that purr spoiling?

So to get on your kitty’s good side, here are some of their favourite scents. Some might help them feel relaxed, happy, or even playful.

Some of the different scents cats like (or love!)

Just like humans, cats have individual preferences. You might love the smell of fresh bread baking while your friend loves the smell of petrol. Each to their own. But there are still some fairly safe bets. After all – most of us agree that cookies smell great, and rotten eggs smell bad.

Here are some popular scents for cats.


This one should come as no surprise. Catnip, part of the mint family, can send your cat into seventh heaven with just a sniff. In fact, it’s so well known as a scent cats like, it’s even named after them.

Read more about why cats love catnip to find out how it works and why one cat might go mad for it while another seems completely ambivalent. Hint: it’s not that one of your cats is fussy, it’s all in the genetics!

Spicy scents cats like

When you think of scents cats like, you might think of flowers or fish. And to be sure, they love those. But you may be surprised to learn some of them actually like certain aromatics and spices too.

Some of the firm favourites include ginger, cinnamon. But because cats like to assert their individuality, they’re a bit divisive; while some cats love these smells, others actively avoid them.

Interestingly, it’s not just small cats who respond well to the smell of certain spices. Some scents cats like are shared by their bigger, wilder counterparts – lions and tigers love the smell of spices too, especially ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamon.

Flower power scents and smells

Cats are often fascinated by plants and flowers. If you’ve ever had a cat and a Christmas tree (whether real or not) in the same room, you probably already know this.

And cats tend to love the smell of flowers and plants too. Roses are cat-safe and even edible, so pick a couple of roses for them from time to time. Obviously, remove the thorns. But it’s a great way to share the love and to help your cat…well….wake up and smell the roses.

On top of roses, other plant and flower scents cats like include sunflowers, grass, chamomile, valerian and olive trees, oils, or leaves. Keep in mind olive can produce similar effects to catnip.

Before you go wild in the garden or home, remember to read up on poisonous plants. Your cat might love the smell of fiddle leaf fig or lillies, for example, but it definitely doesn’t mean you should let them sniff it.

cat sniffing tulip because cats like flower scents

Herby scents cats like

Catnip deserved its own section despite being a herb. But it’s not the only herb cats enjoy the scent of. And if you’ve ever picked fresh herbs and smelled them, it isn’t hard to understand why.

As mentioned earlier, catnip is part of the mint family. Cats often like the scent of normal mint too, as well as basil, oregano, and rosemary. Finally, something humans and cats can agree on!

Essential oils and scents for cats

While popular, essential oils can be dangerous for cats. If you use the wrong ones, or in the wrong forms, essential oils could poison your pet. Only a few are considered safe for cats.

Read more on this in our article Are Essential Oils Dangerous for Dogs And Cats? Here you’ll find out about non-toxic and toxic essential oils, as well as how to use diffusers and other aromatherapy accessories safely around your cats.

How to help cats enjoy smells and scent

While dogs are often allowed to go on walks or outings where they can sniff and roll, many cats don’t have this opportunity. Especially if they’re indoor cats and you haven’t tried to train your cat to walk on a lead.

But even if your cat stays indoors, you can enrich their environment by using scent as stimulation.

  • Open windows. If you have an indoor cat, they might not get much access to the great outdoors. If you don’t have a catio or similar, try to leave some windows open to create a slight breeze. They’ll get a whiff of the outside air, and they’ll love the smell of dust, rain, grass, flowers, and all the other scents we often take for granted.
  • Tokens from outside. Ever noticed your cat hanging around the fireplace or Christmas tree? Cats often love the scent of things like natural wood, dried leaves, or branches. So try keeping your firewood stash inside, or treat your cat to a box filled with dried leaves or twigs to play in.
  • Takeaway treats. Ever come home with fish and chips and had your cat begging for a bite? While you can’t feed them greasy foods, what you can do is let them sniff and play with an empty cardboard container or paper bag. Just make sure there’s no potential for them to get stuck or suffocate – cut handles or holes if need be.

Cat insurance

It’s true cats are curious about all kinds of things, from scents to sights. And that curiosity can sometimes get them in trouble. But with pet insurance, you have peace of mind that you’re financially protected against their antics.

Check out our three cat insurance plans and optional wellness package add-on for cover for vet bills, hospitalisation, vaccinations, and much more.

Share on :

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email