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What Smells Do Cats Like? 9 Scents They Can’t Resist

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

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What Smells Do Cats Like? 9 Scents They Can’t Resist


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats’ noses are powerful, and if they come across a scent that they enjoy, they can give themselves over to it wholeheartedly. They’ll rub up against it, roll in it, or do anything to get closer to it, and they lose all sense of the outside world in the process.

If you enjoy watching your cat savor a smell that they love, each odor on this list is sure to drive your cat wild, and they’ll no doubt be incredibly appreciative that you’ve filled your home with things that they love to face divider 2

The 9 Smells That Cats Love

1. Catnip

Image Credit: Kassel95, Pixabay

Catnip’s association with felines is so strong the plant is named after cats. Of course, it may not be the smell of catnip that felines enjoy as much as the powerful effect it can have on them. In fact, catnip has diverse effects on cats depending on how it’s ingested and the cat’s age and genetics.

The effects can be as a stimulant or a sedative and can even make a cat hyper-excited. Catnip can also produce a narcotic effect on cats, like a psychoactive substance. If your cat seems high after sniffing catnip, they probably are. Still, the plant is entirely safe for cats and can be used as a training aid. Interestingly, some cats do not feel any effect or attraction to catnip.

2. Valerian Root

Image Credit: gokalpiscan, Pixabay

Valerian root works much the same as catnip, creating a euphoric effect in most cats. After a few minutes, the effect wears off, and the herb acts as a sedative, causing the cat to become drowsy. As a result, valerian root can keep your cat calm and placid before road trips or visits to the vet.

It’s also perfect for cats who don’t respond to catnip, as it has a different active ingredient. You can even take it yourself if you’re looking for an all-natural sleep aid, but don’t let your cat see you raiding their private stash.

3. Olive

olive oil
Image Credit: Ulrike Leone, Pixabay

Surprisingly, olives are another alternative to catnip. However, instead of riling your cat up, it should leave them feeling relaxed and laid back. It may even leave them in a nearly trance-like state.

That’s because olive leaves contain a compound called “oleuropein,” which produces a narcotic effect in cats. It’s a great way to calm a skittish cat, but you may find that even your most relaxed kitties also enjoy munching on olive leaves.

4. Honeysuckle

Image Credit: analogicus, Pixabay

If you plant honeysuckle in your garden, you can watch as your cat slowly weaves in and out of the leaves, stopping occasionally to rub up against them. That’s because the scent relaxes cats, so they love to hang out in the leaves.

Just be careful not to let your cat eat honeysuckle berries, as they’re toxic to felines. It’s best if you don’t let them eat any part of the plant, so make sure they’re just enjoying it for the smell.

5. Cat Thyme

cat thyme,
image Credit: TAGSTOCK1, Shutterstock

Cat thyme (Teucrium marum) is not the herb you would use for cooking, although it resembles it. Cat thyme has similar soothing effects as catnip. Cats seem euphoric and experience feelings of contentment after smelling cat thyme.

It has a different chemical than catnip to attract felines. Catnip smells musky, while cat thyme has a minty camphor odor.

6. Flowers

kitty flowers
Image Credit: Ilona Ilyés, Pixabay

Many flowers can appeal to cats, and they’ll spend much time sniffing their petals. Roses, daisies, and lilies seem especially inviting, but be careful about which bouquets you bring home, as some flowers are highly toxic to cats.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to the toxicity that you’ll receive from your partner if you explain that the dozen roses that you brought home on Valentine’s Day are actually for the cat.

7. Fruits

fruit tray_pixabay
Image By: bijutoha, Pixabay

Not all fruit scents are attractive to cats; they seem to hate citrus. Other fruits are more appealing, such as watermelon, peach, and strawberry. Some cats are content to sniff and rub up against the fruit, while others will be tempted to take a bite or two.

Make sure that whatever fruit you have out is safe for cats. Never leave unattended grapes or raisins where your cat can reach them as they are toxic to cats.

8. Basil

Image Credit: cocoparisienne, Pixabay

If you’ve noticed that your cat spends more time in the kitchen when you’re cooking with basil, you’re not imagining things. Basil is in the same family as catnip, and it has a similar activation effect on them.

However, while many cats enjoy the smell of basil, few seem to like the taste. As a result, it’s unlikely that your cat will go as wild for basil as they do for catnip, but they still might appreciate you keeping some around (especially if it’s sprinkled on baked chicken).

9. You

cat with owner_tray_pixabay
Image Credit: Deedee86, Pixabay

It may not seem like it all the time, but chances are you’re one of your cat’s absolute favorite things. They love your smell, as it reminds them of you. That’s why they’re constantly rubbing up against you; not only does this mark you as their personal property, but it also allows them to experience your scent in all its glory.

You may even catch your cat curling up in your dirty laundry occasionally. Knowing that your cat is snuggling with your dirty socks may be a little gross, but it’s also heartwarming.

The Nose Knows

If you want to show your cat how much you love them, surrounding them with some of their favorite scents is a great way to do it. Not only will that make their environment much more pleasant, but in some cases, it will also profoundly affect their well-being. Of course, you need to be careful with plants and herbs as several of them can be toxic to your cat, and others, like catnip, can be toxic to your valuables if your cat starts racing around like an animal possessed.

Featured Image Credit: islam zarat, Shutterstock

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