Why Do Cats Hate Oranges?


One of the many reasons we love cats so much is their wide range of often unexpected reactions. Whether that’s the love of chewing cardboard, crawling under the covers, or just zooming around the house for fun cats can certainly be a little weird.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that cat owners have tried to present just about every type of food they can find to their cat and excited waited to see their reaction and while there’s also unique preferences across different cats, it’s pretty typical to find that cats don’t like oranges.

So why do cats hate oranges? Cats are carnivorous creatures with an extremely powerful sense of smell (up to 16 times stronger than humans) so it should come as no surprise that the powerful citrus smell of an orange is completely unappealing to the senses of your meat-eating cat. 

But let’s dive a little deeper into why cats hate oranges.

Cats Are Carnivores Without A Sweet Tooth

Why do humans like oranges?

Well, a bit part of the appeal for most people is that oranges are sweet!

But according to Scientific American cats can’t actually taste sweet flavors so the main appeal of an orange is pretty much non-existent for your cat! This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since cats are what’s called obligate carnivores.

Obligate carnivores are species that require meat (and only meat) to get all their essential nutrients. One of the best examples of this for cats is vitamin A. While humans and many other species can convert the beta carotene found in carrots cats lack the required enzymes to make this conversion. In other to get vitamin A, cats need to turn to animal sources like liver!

In other words, your cat has no need for an orange!

Do Oranges Keep Cats Away?

Because cats seem to generally hate the smell of oranges, using orange essential oil, orange-scented cleaners, orange rinds, or other orange scented products may keep cats away from certain areas of off countertops. This true of not just oranges but most citrus, too!

I actually wrote an entire guide to use essential oils to keep cats off counters (and other areas) that you can read here.

Why Are Cats Afraid Of Oranges?

While cats certainly don’t like oranges, most cats probably aren’t really afraid of them. They’d just prefer to not be around them. It’s safe to say that oranges smell unpleasant to most cats and it might be similar to a human that’s avoiding smells like sulfur or other unpleasant scents.

So I don’t think you’re really scaring your cat by letting them smell oranges (like the person in the video at the top of this page). Instead, your cat just doesn’t want anymore and decides to leave the room instead!

Are Oranges Safe For Cats To Eat?

Never let your cat eat an orange. The ASPCA gives a brief breakdown of the impact that eating an orange could have a cat but it has to do with the essential oils in oranges. Essential oils are metabolized in the liver and cats simply don’t metabolize these substances the way that humans cans. That makes oranges toxic to cats and you learn more about what to look for if your cat has eaten an orange here.

Can I Let My Cat Smell An Orange?

It’s generally considered safe to let your cat get a whiff of an orange. However, don’t do anything your cat doesn’t want or force them to smell it! Simply extend it out and let your cat’s natural curiosity take over! There’s a good chance they’ll decide to give it a sniff and maybe your feline is one of the rare few that actually likes the smell of an orange! Just remember, never let your cat actually eat the orange.

Logan M.

Logan has always loved everything about cats! Growing up with a family full of pets and a lifelong passion for animals he pursued work in the veterinary industry. After 10 years, he started BetterWithCats.net to help cat owners learn more about their feline friends.

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