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Why Do Cats Hate Oranges? (Does it keep them Away?)

If you have ever witnessed a cat around an orange, you may be shocked or left scratching your head, to understand why this weird reaction could be happening. Let me explain why this weird reaction happens…

Why do cats hate oranges? It’s because of the citrus scent. This is also seen with other citrus fruit such as lemon, lime, grapefruits, etc. If your cat has experienced the smell before, there is a chance their reaction will be even greater than before, because they know what to expect. 

Now that you know why they hate oranges so much, stick around while I go a few steps deeper. In particular: Explaining exactly what an orange is, how the power of a cat’s nose (Click here to see if you should pick your cat’s nose) is a massive factor for this repulsive reaction, how you can benefit from this and more. Keep reading.

What is an Orange Fruit?

A fresh orange cut in half.

A fresh orange cut in half.

Before we move on, let me explain exactly what an orange is. This may seem obvious, but there is a chance that you are not aware of the detail around this. And, it is relevant for other key points I plan to discuss later in this article.

According to Wikipedia, the orange is a fruit of the Citrus × Sinensis species, which belongs to the Rutaceae family. It is a native to China and is also known as the “sweet Orange”.

The power of a Cat’s nose (Root cause their weird reaction)

Earlier I hinted that I would explain how a cat’s sense of smell plays a big factor in their adverse reaction to Oranges. For that reason, in this section, I will explain further.

Cats have a powerful sense of smell. It is far superior to us humans. However, I must say, it is not as powerful as a dog’s, but that’s another story 😉

To put this into perspective, our human noses have up to about 5 million olfactory receptors. Whereas a cat’s nose has been reported to have over 50 million (Somewhere between 45 & 80 million).  Impressive, right?

What is an olfactory receptor?

You may be thinking, well that sounds good but what is an olfactory receptor? Right? Good question. Let me explain…

Olfactory receptors (OR), are also known as odorant receptors. Why? Because they are responsible for detecting the odors that we smell each day, are you with me? They are the key element that gives us the sense of smell.

What is the benefit of these receptors?

You may be thinking, this is all well and good, but what is the point of all this, right? Well, in this section I will explain why it’s so beneficial for them.

These receptors help them a lot. And is actually key to their survival. Their sense of smell allows them to hunt and find their prey. Obviously this is more relevant in the wild.

There smell also gives them an idea of the quality of the food (Click here to see if cats can eat Graham crackers) before they consume it. How? Well, believe it or not, but their nose is so powerful and can indicate to them if the food is potentially toxic or safe to eat.

What has this got to do with Oranges?

So, by now you may be wondering where I am going with this, right? Well, let me tie this back to my argument…

Cats hate the strong smell of citrus, in particular oranges. This is because their smell is so powerful that this citrus smell is many times stronger to them than us. To us humans, it is detectable, obviously.

But, to a cat, it ssmells unbelievably strong. Which causes them to feel repulsed by it. Think of it this way, ever heard of high pitched dog sounds? The ones us humans can’t hear? But freaks dogs out? Same concept.

How can you benefit from this?

As weird as this may sound, this weird reaction from your cat, to oranges, can be used to your advantage. And, no, I don’t mean hurting your cat, but instead protecting some of your valuables. Let me explain…

Keeping your garden in check

Ever spent hours weeding and planting some treasured flowers or vegetables in your back garden only to find your cat (or a neighbors cat) has destroyed it? Annoying, right? Let me explain how this can be avoided.

Using these same oranges that your cat dislikes, you can use them as a guard for your vegetable patch. This will help to scare off your cat and make them avoid your valuable plants (Is cat pee bad for them? Click here). Simple as that.

But how? Simple, you can cut up some orange peel and lay it around the “no-go” area. This will, in theory, repel your cat from straying into this area, are you with me?

Do all cats hate citrus?

So far I have explained why cats hate citrus, how you can repel them using oranges and how the power of their noses is the reason behind this. But, there are exceptions to this rule. Let me explain…

Like most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule. It’s like Marmite, heard of that before? Well, if you haven’t its a food spread that envokes harsh reactions in some of us, while others love it. So much so, there as a whole advertising campaign in the UK focused on this angle, lol!

Anyway… My point is, oranges are similar, in a way. Well, maybe not as divided as marmite lovers vs haters. But exceptions never the less. Basically, don’t be alarmed if you have a cat that actually doesn’t respond negatively to oranges. Why? Because there are reports of happy cat owners that say their cat is fine with it.

However, with that being said, this is more of an exception more than anything. Most cats will not like oranges.

Can cats eat oranges?

No. Cats should not eat oranges. Although cats do not typically like them, they are not necessarily afraid of them. So, unlike cucumbers, which freak them out, they just do not find them pleasant.

Oranges, like other citrus fruit, are not ideal for cats. And, this is why some people use them as a repellent. Including citrus sprays that are designed to protect home surfaces or objects.

What should I do if my cat eats an orange?

If your cat has accidentally, or intentionally eaten an orange, it’s best to take them to your vet for a check. This is because these oranges, like other citrus fruits, are deemed toxic for cats.

You may feel that this is over the top and may wish to save the money and avoid the vet visit. But, it’s not worth the risk. Your vet will at the very least put your mind at rest.

Why does my cat love oranges?

If you have a cat that seems to appreciate oranges then it is rare and a concern. This is because most cats do not like it, and therefore avoid it. And, it is deemed as toxic and i a concern if it has willingly consumed it.

It’s best to consult your vet for help with the orange it has consumed. And, for further advice going forward.

Does orange peel stop cats scratching?

Orange peel placed in the correct location may help your cat scratching. However, it may save that specific location, because they often dispose the smell. But, it does not prevent them scratching another location.

Apart from orange peel you can also get citrus spray that is designed to repel cats from objects or surfaces around your home.

Do orange peels attract bugs?

No. Orange peel will not attract bugs. But, the orange flesh will. So, its important to only use the peelings and separate it from the flesh. One tactic is to rub the peel against a surface where you want to repell insects from, to avoid them searching for the orange flesh.

This is why you may have seen ants, or other bugs congregating around an old orange peel and assumed they were after the peel incorrectly.

Related Questions:

In this section, I will be answering some questions related to cats, oranges, and smells they dislike. Of you have another specific question that has not been answered here please feel free to drop me a comment below.

Q: Do cats Hate Human hair smells?

Yes, according to this site, there is a theory that they do not like humans here. I do have a certain level of skepticism with this though, as I have not witnessed this personally. The reality is, it is very easy to prove if it works for your cat right away, right?

If it does cause a strong reaction then, similar to my section earlier, about using the hate for oranges to your advantage, you could do the same with human hair. By collecting your hair clippings as to deter your cat from areas of your home that are deemed as “off-limits”, are you with me?

Q: Do cats hate the smell of vinegar?

The short answer is No, they do not like the smell. You may have wondered about vinegar for a while because if oranges cause a reaction, it’s logical to assume vinegar would cause a similar reaction.

What is vinegar?

According to Wikipedia, it is a water-based solution that contains acetic acid, this acidic concentration is typically between 5 & 20%.

Apart from being used as a condiment on the traditional English dish of “fish & chips” (yum!), it can also be used to clean objects around the house, in an attempt to avoid using chemical-based cleaners.

Q: Do cats hate the smell of lavender?

No, they do not. This is a weird one, I say this because as humans we generally love the smell of lavender, including other flowers like rosemary, etc. However, for cats, they feel quite the opposite.

Again, this can be used to your advantage by using Lavender to protect areas that you want to remain untouched.

What is Lavender?

According to Wikipedia, Lavender also known as “Lavandula” is a genus of many different flowering plants (47 in total). And, is part of the mint family Lamiaceae. And, is found in many locations including Europe, Eastern Africa, Asia, and India.

Lindsey Browlingdon