cat sniffing

What Effect Do Certain Scents Have on Cats?

Your house cat reacts to special aromas. The odeur of catnip entices the domestic feline predator to excited play. Valerian and branches of the Tartar hedge cherry also have a strong attracting effect on the animals. The aroma of tea tree oil can effectively drive away the quadruped.

You can find out how scents affect cats in our guide.

What scents do cats particularly like?

Cats have a highly developed sense of smell and are not unlike dogs. Cats also communicate with conspecifics via scent marks and mark their territory. There are about 200 million olfactory cells in the dog’s nose. Humans have about 5 million. The cat is in between with about 65 million olfactory cells.

Cats like to smell some herbal and floral scents. Some of the plants even have a special effect on the house tigers, such as catnip and valerian. They are among the most soothing scents for cats.
What does the labiates catnip do to cats?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) smells lightly of lemon and magically attracts many cats. In some of the domestic tigers, catnip has a euphoric effect and triggers the play instinct in them. If you add the aroma to your cat’s favorite object, the object of desire will become even more interesting.

Why mint has a beguiling effect on some velvet paws and not on others is not fully understood. Presumably, the substance nepetalactone in the essential oil of the plant species is the reason why cats get excited. The alkaloid actinidine is also said to be involved in the attractive effect. The scent of mint is said to help calm nervous animals. In addition, the lemony aroma is said to motivate overweight pussycats to exercise.

If your furry nose is magically attracted to the herb, you can use it in the following cases:

If a visit to the vet is in the offing, make the transport box more attractive with the scent of catnip. If your cat has always refused the scratching post, put a few drops of the odeur on the claw sharpener. Unpopular toys can quickly become a hit with a positive reaction to Nepeta cataria. In stressful situations, the aroma of the labiatae will distract your pet.


Carefully test how mint affects your cat. Some animals react aggressively to the scent. If your cat is anything but pleasantly stimulated and happily excited, it is better not to offer mint. A wash cycle in the machine removes the odors of stuffed animals and other toys again.


You can find toys for cats in stores that are pre-treated with catnip. They are labeled “catnip” – the English word for Nepeta cataria. There are also ground plant parts or corresponding herbal mixtures of catnip. With this you make cat toys or scratching posts interesting again. In our guide about intelligence toys for cats you will learn how to keep your cat fit and healthy with fun and games.

What does valerian do to cats?

Many cats like the scent of valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Pets have a relaxed reaction to the medicinal plant, and some seem to be on drugs. A few drops of valerian on the cat’s toy already shows effect. The animal is completely infatuated with the object and may romp around the apartment with it.

The valeric acid in valerian, a secondary plant substance, is said to resemble the pheromones secreted by cats during mating season. If your pet is very young or already old, it is likely to react less strongly to the scent. The beguiling alkaloid actinidine, which is found in catnip, contributes to the delightful valerian scent.


It is advisable to expose the animal to the scent of valerian only temporarily. Overstimulation can cause negative side effects or trigger a general disinterest in the aroma.

NOTE: Specialty stores offer valerian play spray to cat owners. You spray the plant extract on cat toys or cuddle blankets. With the scent you increase the well-being of your pet and make objects more interesting. In most cases, the four-legged friends lose interest in the treated toy after a while.

Which scents do cats also react positively to?

The Japanese Ray Pencil (Actinidia polygama) is said to cause an even stronger reaction in some cats than catnip. The Japanese ray-grass is also known as silver vine. It grows in mountainous parts of Japan, China, eastern Siberia, and Korea. The iridoid active ingredient of ray-grass strongly attracts cats.

Under the name Matatabi, pet stores present the attractant as small sticks made from the plant wood. Since the cat’s interest wanes after a short time, you should give your pet Matatabi only for a while.

There are also matatabi chew sticks with the active ingredients of Japanese ray pencil. If your pet is very nervous, you can use it to calm him down if necessary. Scientists suspect that the reaction to matatabi in cats is genetically determined. Only a few of the four-legged friends show no interest in the Japanese ray pen.

Other plants also trigger an attraction in cats

Tartar hedge cherry: The wood of the Tartar hedge cherry is also attractive to many cats. Give your pet only the leaves and branches of the plant. The berries are poisonous to humans and animals. The harmless parts of the shrub contain essential oils that your cat will find stimulating. The deciduous shrub from Asia emits a slightly sweet scent when in bloom.

Cat Gamander (Teucrium marum): The strongly aromatic foliage of cat’s gamander has ingredients that seem irresistible to house cats. The leaves of the medicinal plant serve as a spice in Oriental cuisine. Grapevine: Some cats like vine wood. You can get products made from the plant material for other types of pets.

Feverfew (Menyanthes trifoliata): Feverfew clover grows in fens and wet meadows. It secretes a pleasant aroma for cats. In the past, it was used to reduce fever. However, scientists could not prove this effect.

What scent do cats not like?

While some specific scents are popular with velvet paws, many intense aromas are off-putting to cats. You can use these scents to keep cats away.

Scents that cats don’t like include:

Tea tree oil and menthol: Odeurs that are less attractive include the smell of tea tree oil, menthol, eucalyptus, and the aroma of coffee.

Onions and Garlic: The scent of onions and of garlic also seem to be turn-offs to cats. If master or mistress has eaten a few cloves of garlic, the pet avoids the person because he or she exhales the odor.

Household cleaners and vinegar: The smell of household cleaners and of vinegar does not go down well with cats living with humans. The acrid smell is unpleasant to the pet’s nose and drives the velvet paw away.

Litter box: When it comes to litter boxes, four-legged friends are critical. It must smell clean and fresh. If you have not removed it already longer excrement and urine, the cat probably does her business elsewhere.

Conclusion – Scents cats

Scents cause a wide variety of reactions in cats. If you know your cat and its reactions to the smells well, you can use the smells purposefully. You influence the behavior of your four-legged friend. The best way is to try different scents and get to know his preferences. However, do not cause too strong a reaction of your animal.

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