10 Smells that Attract Cats

By Alice Tapiol Breeze, AnimalWised Editor. Updated: April 9, 2019
10 Smells that Attract Cats

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A cat's sense of smell is 14 times better than a human's, so it's much more developed and allows them to perceive scents more intensely. This advantage is very useful to detect those smells that they worship easily but also to quickly identify those they hate.

If you are one of those people who keep the home well scented, or commonly use essential oils for natural therapies, and want to use those scents that do not disturb your furry companion, keep reading! In this AnimalWised article, we share 10 smells that attract cats. However, we already anticipate that not all smells cause the same effect in all cats, since some may have the opposite effect and we'll explain why.

You may also be interested in: 10 Smells that Cats Hate


Nepeta cataria, better known as catnip, exerts an powerful narcotic effect on the animal. The active ingredient found in the composition of the plant, nepetalactona produces a psychoactive impact on cats that lead them to stimulate their mind and will make them to play and move. In this way, when a cat smells the aroma given off by catnip they tend to rub against it, lick it, eat it, and show unusual behavior, such as jumping, and even non-existent animal hunting.

As it stimulates the mind of the animal and keeps them active, catnip is one of the most beneficial for them, as well as the smell that attracts cats the most. More information in our article about "the properties of catnip".

10 Smells that Attract Cats - Catnip


Considered as another of the smells cats adore, the olive tree also produces a narcotic effect that alters a cat's behavior. This is so because one of the most active components in the olive tree's leaves and trunk is a substance called oleuropein. As with catnip, when a cat perceives this smell, they tend to rub, lick, eat its leaves and show a more active attitude, a behavior similar to the attitude they have in times of mating.

Some cats have this attraction to just leaves, while others are attracted by all the parts the olive tree, from olives to olive oil. Likewise, it has still not been scientifically proven that this smell exerts a relaxing effect on cats so we can't say this fact is real, but it certainly does affect their central nervous system and makes them more active and playful.

10 Smells that Attract Cats - Olive


Honeysuckle is part of the popular Bach flowers and, as such, they act on the cat's body exerting a powerful soothing and calming effect. In this way, we can say that the scent given off by this plant represents one of the scents that relaxes cats. So much so, that currently such plants are used in cats and other animals for therapeutic purposes, such as dealing with insomnia, stress or anxiety.

As with the previous plants, the composition of honeysuckle attracts cats and makes them want to rub themselves against the floor, licking it and eat it. But, beware! Honeysuckle berries are toxic for cats, so it is essential not to let them eat this plant, just sniff it and enjoy its aroma.


As with us humans, the aroma given off by lavender attracts cats by drawing them towards it to sniff it and rub against it. However, its power of attraction is not as powerful as the previous plant and, therefore, it is possible that some cats will not display equal interest and even reject the plant.

If your furry companion is one of these cats that love this smell, you can use it to encourage a state of relaxation. Especially in cases of anxiety and a small degree of aggressiveness, it has been shown that the use of this natural therapy, along with other relaxing factors and the discovery of the cause of the problem, help the animal feel much calmer.

Cats do not like essential oils. As their sense of smell is so strong, any essential oil can be too overpowering. If used in a diffuser or heavily diluted, it might mimic the enjoyable scent of fresh lavender.

10 Smells that Attract Cats - Lavender


Thyme is not only part of the smells that attract cats, but is also one of the most beneficial for them. Thanks to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, when prepared in the form of infusion or tea, it helps treat irritated and inflamed eyes in cats, so it relieves symptoms caused by conjunctivitis, for example, or a particular allergy.

On the other hand, its aroma acts as a natural relaxer and therefore promotes calmness in the cat. To do so, you should ideally use the essential oil of thyme or purchase this aromatic plant. However, as with lavender, thyme may not be as effective, since not all cats are attracted by its smell.

Mint, Basil and Peppermint

Mint, basil, and Peppermint are part of the same family as catnip, the family of the Lamiaceae. This is why it is not surprising that the aroma of these plants that are so often used for cooking are also one of the smells that cats love. Thus, cats that are attracted by them show the same symptoms described in the section dedicated to catnip, activation, and mental stimulation.

Floral aromas

Many cats feel trapped by the intense smell of some flowers like roses, daisies and lilies. But if this is the case of your cat, you should know that some of them are highly toxic if they ingest them, such as the last two mentioned. In this way, it is better to keep cats away from the actual plant to avoid a possible intoxication.

10 Smells that Attract Cats - Floral aromas

Fruit scents

Fruits such as strawberries, peach or watermelon, emit very distinctive and intense aromas that capture the attention of cats quickly. In this sense, certain scents can certainly attract cats and encourage them to try the food. Many of them, even have multiple benefits for their body, such as antioxidant, cleansing and diuretic properties, as well as fiber and lots of vitamins. However, not all fruits are attractive to these animals, since citrus fruit emits a really unpleasant scent for them.

If you notice that your cat is attracted by the smell of some fruits, don't miss our article with the list of fruits most recommended for cats and start to offer them as a reward.

10 Smells that Attract Cats - Fruit scents

What is your cat's favorite smell?

After reviewing the list of smells that attract cats the most, tell us, what the smell your cat loves the most is! We are sure that you have identified that there is a certain plant, food or object that has an attracting effect on your furry friend and whenever they identify it they quickly run towards it with enthusiasm.

Likewise, and as we have already been indicating throughout the article, not all mentioned odors are welcome for all cats, since each animal is a world and has their own tastes. In this way, it is possible that a feline adores the smell that thyme gives but rejects lavender completely. In this regard, we encourage you to check the post to explain "10 smells that cats hate".

If you want to read similar articles to 10 Smells that Attract Cats, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

  • Goznalez Garcia, A.; Herranz Vega, M. S.; Sanchez - Fortun Herrero, a. does catnip deserve that name? Revista Complutense de Ciencias Veterinarias. 2017.ISSN: 1988-2688.
  • Alabort Amundarain, S.; Pineda González, S.; Olivares Moreno, A.; Ibáñez Talegón, M. generalized anxiety and intraspecific aggression in cats. Revista Complutense de Ciencias Veterinarias. 2017 ISSN: 1988-2688.

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What did you think of this article?
Geoff Rickles
Great article!
How can you train your cat to not come and drink or try to when you have a drink out?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shirley,

A healthy cat will be able to self-regulate their water intake. We shouldn't sop them if they want to have a drink. If they are drinking out of our own glass, we can try to dissuade them not to by removing the glass and giving them positive reinforcement when they leave it alone. However, this is very difficult and you will practically be better suited to placing a coaster or something else on top of the glass.

To encourage them to drink water in general, check out this article:
Cat (its my real name)
My kitten goes craaazy for men’s cologne. I recently bought a magazine which had an intensely smelling ad with a sample of a men’s cologne. My kitten raced over and lay on my magazine. She began to sniff it quickly and almost obsessively. She began to roll around on the magazine and rub her head on it! Now she’s fallen asleep on the magazine..
my cat goes bonkers at the smell of my pomade. i haven't been able to wear it since i got him because he won't leave me alone when i do.
Vincent Trombetta
Hi - I understand that certain varieties of Thyme are actually toxic to cats, e..g,, Spanish Thyme. You can check out the ASPCA website to learn more. I have two cats and I also use a lot of essential oils. Thyme contains phenols, which can be dangerous to cats. Other plants and oils that are high in phenols include Anise, Clove and Tea Tree. Hope this helps. Sincerely, Vince
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Vince,

Thank you for the comment. Although there is a herb which is sometimes called ‘Spanish thyme’ in the US, it is not a common name for it elsewhere. While it is true that both are part of the same family, they do not have the same properties. When we discuss thyme, we are talking about ‘Thymus vulgaris’ which is known simply as Thyme, garden thyme or common thyme. This is known to be non-toxic for both cats and dogs, something corroborated on the ASPCA website. Thank you again for helping us to clear up this issue in case anybody was unsure to which we were referring.
Do cats like the smell of ginger ale? Second I put my glass down he goes after it but nothing else. I've never let him have it he just likes the smell.
Administrador AnimalWised

It's quite possible that your cat like the smell of ginger ale and this is why he comes over to smell it. However, cats also just like to drink, especially if the drink is fresh and inviting. He may simply be coming over to investigate it? Do you drink ginger ale a lot? Does he come over for other drinks?
Marilyn Youman
Today I purchased two large coreopsis plants to add to a couple I had already in my garden. My cat Jaspurr went nuts sniffing the new plant. He was never attracted to the one growing in my garden. I also have a cat "friend"--a Maine Coon--that comes daily, eats breakfast and dinner and often sleeps in my bedroom all day (stays out all night). She plays with Jaspurr all the time. She, too, went nuts over the same new plant. What's going on here? Neither is eating the plant--just sniffing like crazy. I also grow catnip that both cats love but the plants are not related.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Marilyn

This is the first time here at AnimalWised we have heard of this cat obsession. However, all cats are different and many new smells can easily grab their attention! In this situation that might be the case!
This plant however is non-toxic to cats. If this phenomenon does carry on please let us know here at AnimalWised and we can take a deeper look into this, but so far we have no solid information on why this might be happening!

We hope this helps


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