What Smell Do Cats Like The Most?

If someone were to start a question on Quora or Reddit: "What is your favorite smell?", we would probably get a variety of answers, from coffee to grass to sun-dried clothes, or maybe it's a new newspaper or the odd smell of paint.

For humans, smell may not be as important as sight and hearing, but that doesn't mean we don't like wonderful scents.

Cats have a sense of smell 14 times stronger than humans and, unlike us, they rely on scent for everything from warning them of danger to saying hello to their new kitten friends. So, what scents do these talented sniffers find most appealing? Here are 12 scents cats love and a few extras they can't stand!

12 kinds of cats like the smell

Intimate Master

Your scent makes your cat feel safe and content, and they certainly like it. Even if you think that your cat doesn't care about your presence as long as the food bowl is filled, rest assured that they still love your scent. This is one reason your cat may enjoy sleeping with you, head-butting you, or dozing off in the laundry basket in the middle of your laundry.


When you think of popular cat scents, this is probably the first one that comes to mind. The scent of catnip can have a range of effects on your cat, from making them hyperactive to putting them in a state of euphoria. This response comes from a chemical called thorny lactone, which triggers a scent-based response in the cat's brain. Catnip is a favorite scent for most cats and is everywhere, from cat toys to training products. However, only 50-70% of cats respond to the scent of catnip, so your cat is probably one of them.


Your food, their food, or the smells coming from your neighbor's summer picnic, your cat probably loves them all! Not surprisingly, cats seem to be particularly fond of the smell of fish and meat. Enjoying the smell of human food is not a problem for your cat, but for their health and well-being, please be careful how much you let them eat.


Thyme is not only one of the scents that attracts cats, but it is also one of the most beneficial scents for cats. Due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps treat irritated and inflamed eyes in cats when prepared in the form of an infusion or tea. This means that it may help relieve symptoms caused by things like conjunctivitis, or specific allergies. On the other hand, its aroma can act as a natural relaxant and can therefore promote calmness in cats. To do this, it is best to use the essential oil of thyme or to buy this aromatic plant. However, as with lavender, thyme may not be as effective because not all cats are attracted to its scent.


Honeysuckle is a common wild and cultivated plant with over 180 species. One of these species, honeysuckle tartare, has a scent that many cats enjoy. This honeysuckle scent has a similar effect on some cats as catnip, often calming and relaxing them. Some parts of the honeysuckle plant can be toxic to cats if consumed, so be careful when allowing your kitten to enjoy this scent.


This may seem strange, but many cats love the smell of olives and olive oil. Like honeysuckle, olives contain a chemical similar to the thorny lactone found in catnip. This scent usually causes cats to react with excitement or euphoria, which they may demonstrate by rolling around excitedly on the floor. If your cat likes the smell of olives, they will probably like the taste as well, but be careful not to let them eat too many because of the high salt and fat content of olives.

Silver Vine

Silver vine, a climbing plant in the kiwi family found in the mountains of Asia, has been known for centuries for its attraction to cats. The smell of this plant causes a similar reaction to catnip in many cats. In fact, some cats that do not like catnip enjoy the scent of silver vine.

Valerian root

Valerian root is part of an herb commonly used in humans to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. For cats, the smell of valerian can be exciting, as can their more intense reaction to catnip. Valerian root has been studied as an alternative to catnip along with silver vine and honeysuckle, and does seem to appeal to cats who do not like the more commonly used cat scent.


A favorite scent that many cats and humans agree on is the smell of roses. While many flowers are not safe for cats, roses not only smell great to cats, but are safe to chew. Do them a favor and cut the thorns first!

Fresh Air

Maintain an Airy Environment Cats who live indoors only especially enjoy the smell of fresh air wafting in through an open window. The outdoors is a whole new world, and the ever-changing wind currents bring with them the smells of the other animals, people and plants that inhabit it. Opening windows is a great way to enrich the lives of indoor cats while allowing them to live in the safest place possible.


This is another odor that seems a bit strange to cats. However, many cat owners have noticed that their cats seem to enjoy eating cantaloupe, and the scent is the main attraction of this fruit. It is thought that for cats, cantaloupe smells similar to meat, as small amounts of many of the compounds that give meat its scent are also found in cantaloupe.


If you enjoy growing herbs outdoors or indoors on a sunny countertop, your cat will love it if basil is one of them. Basil is closely related to catnip, and many cats enjoy sniffing and chewing on the leaves of this plant. Thankfully, basil not only smells great to cats, but it is also non-toxic, but you shouldn't let your cat eat too much of it in case she has an upset stomach.

Final Summary

Cats' noses are not as sensitive as dogs', but cats still rely heavily on their sense of smell to help them find their way in their world. Like humans, cats have specific scents they like and dislike, and some even produce strong chemical reactions. Surrounding your cat with the different scents they like is a great way to make their lives more interesting and enjoyable.

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