Even long-time cat parents can be surprised to learn that some innocent-sounding chemicals are harmful to cats. If not harmful, some chemicals are simply unpleasant or offensive to cats.

If your cats have suddenly begun to pee everywhere, consider this: have you recently added new smells to your home (such as air fresheners or perfumes), or to your cat’s litter box area (such as using a new cleaning product)?

It’s no secret that cats have very sensitive noses. With about 16x the number of olfactory receptors as humans, they may take offense at things you can’t even smell.

If you want to safely neutralize cat urine smell, we recommend:

Chemicals and Scents Offensive or Harmful to Cats

We researched the web to find which chemicals are regarded to be dangerous, toxic, or offensive to cats.

Note that we obviously didn’t test to make sure cats really hate these smells and we found various opinions online, so we can’t say how dangerous or offensive these chemicals actually are to cats. We just believe it’s sensible to avoid them in your home if you share it with cats.

Caution: this is not a complete list of harmful chemicals. We focused on chemicals that are safe for humans, but potentially dangerous to cats. If you have any concern about a specific chemical, we recommend you do your own web research and consult your local vet.

  • Absinthe plants
  • Alcohol (any kind)
  • Aloe
  • Azalea plants
  • Bananas
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cedar oil
  • Chrysanthemum plants
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Geranium plants
  • Lavender plants
  • Lemon plants
  • Lily plants
  • Marijuana plants
  • Menthol
  • Mistletoe plants
  • Nearly all perfumes
  • Pine oil
  • Poinsettia plants
  • Rhododendron plants
  • Rosemary plants
  • Rue plants
  • Solid air fresheners
  • Some Soaps & Deodorants
  • Thyme plants
  • Tulip plants
  • Wintergreen oil

Other Harmful Chemicals to Cats

It may be obvious these are hazardous, but these are particularly dangerous because cats may be in frequent contact with them.

Not a complete list: consult a vet and do your own research on specific chemicals of concern.

  • Antifreeze
  • Bleach
  • De-icing salts (which pets may walk through, then lick from their pads)
  • Detergents
  • Dog flea and tick medication (pills, collars, sprays, shampoos)
  • Fertilizers
  • Herbicides
  • Insect and rodent bait

Medicines Harmful to Cats

Not a complete list: consult a vet and do your own research on specific chemicals of concern.

  • Antidepressants
  • Cancer medicines
  • Cold medicines
  • Diet pills
  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Vitamins and other supplements

Essential Oils Harmful to Cats

Not a complete list: consult a vet and do your own research on specific chemicals of concern.

  • Any oils containing phenols
  • Bergamot
  • Birch
  • Cinnamon (cassia)
  • Citrus oils
  • Clove
  • Lavender (cheap perfume and camphorous types)
  • Melaleuca (tea tree oil)
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sage
  • Spruce
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen