Close-up of a gray cat with striking green eyes and prominent whiskers, focusing on its nose reacting to scents cats like.

Do You Know About These Scents Cats Like?


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There are scents cats like and scents they don’t. And while some are obvious (who does like the smell of vinegar, really?) others might surprise you. Do cats like ginger, for instance? What about the smell of cinnamon? Do they enjoy fresh orange smells? Cats have super sensitive noses and are quite particular about the smells they like.

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 common smells and scents cats like, from spicy aromatics like ginger through to lovely herbs and of course – food-inspired smells.


Before we go into any details, check out this video of a cat who simply can’t get enough catnip:

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

cinnamon and ginger are scents that some 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. Sugar, spice, and all things nice – as they say.

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Do cats like the smell of ginger? Cinnamon?

Perhaps you’ve noticed your cat eyeing up your gingerbread men over Christmas and wondered if cats like the smell of ginger. Or even if they like the taste of cinnamon.

Some of the firm favourites include ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. But because cats like to assert their individuality, they’re a bit divisive. While some cats love the smell of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg others actively avoid them. Just to keep you on your toes!

Interestingly, it’s not just small cats who respond well to the smell of certain spices. Many big cats like the same scents that domestic cats like. For example, lions and tigers love the smell of spices too, especially ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom.

And if you’re wondering if your cat can eat ginger, nutmeg, and other aromatics, the answer depends on the particular spice. Ginger can be given in small amounts and may even be useful for nausea, just like in humans. Some people even use it for cats who get car sick. Cinnamon is technically not toxic but isn’t generally well tolerated. Nutmeg is toxic to cats, so shouldn’t be fed. Here are some homemade cat treats you might want to tempt kitty with instead.

Flower power scents and smells

cat sniffing tulip because cats like flower scents

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.

Herby scents cats like

mint is one of the scents that cats often 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

Whereas dogs tend to go for walks, cats on the other hand generally don’t go on outings. 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? You might not be able to share your greasy treats, but 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.

If you want to let your kitty have some treats at the same time, read our article on National Pet Obesity Day for healthy alternatives. And even better, find out what cats like to eat for breakfast. Hint: it isn’t milk!

What smells do cats hate?

Sometimes, you might be interested in a smell cats don’t like. Or even a smell or scent that repels cats. Especially if you have roaming neighbourhood cats who you need to keep out of your garden or house for some reason. Or just to keep your cat from rolling around on your good velvet armchair!

Some smells cats don’t like include:

  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Pepper (but know that peppers include capsaicin, which is toxic to cats. So don’t use cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes as a deterrent for any cat.)
  • Vinegar
  • Coffee

Cat insurance smells good too

It’s true cats are curious about all kinds of things, from scents to sights. And that curiosity can sometimes get them in trouble – accidents can happen easily, just like illnesses. Buy your favourite feline quality and affordable award-winning cat insurance.

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This includes blood work, X-rays, surgery, hospital stay overs, prescription medication and more. You get to choose the level of cover for your paw-pal, from accident only, to accident and illness or that plus dental cover.

With PD Insurance you get one or more months of pet insurance FREE. Click below to get a quick quote today.

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