Why Do Cats Hate Oranges?

Cats are picky eaters and prefer meat and other protein-rich foods in their diet. When you introduce different foods to a cat that it has never eaten before, it certainly will have peculiar reactions. Oranges are one such food. But why do cats hate oranges so much?

Cats hate oranges because their heightened sense of smell cannot stand the citrus scent of oranges. They also hate other citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, and limes. 

Oranges are one of the tastiest fruits to many people. While it may be your favourite fruit, a cat might hate it because of its scent. Cats are mainly carnivorous and prefer protein-based foods like meat and milk.

They have extremely heightened senses, and their sense of smell is more sensitive than an average human’s. Because of this sensitive nose, cats find the scent of citrus hugely unappealing.

When you give them an orange a second time, they’ll react even worse as they’ve already smelt it, so they know how bad it is. Cats hate other citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, and react similarly to them.

Are Oranges Toxic to Cats?

You may love oranges for their sweet and juicy flavour, and oranges are also very healthy for us. But, the same cannot be said about cats. Oranges aren’t healthy for cats, and the essential oils present in oranges can hurt a cat.

This is because we can process the oils in oranges, but cats do not know how to. 

A cat’s body is designed only to have a protein-based diet to survive, so foreign food items such as oranges and other food groups can’t be processed the same way we process them.

These essential oils can’t be processed or metabolized, so they sit in a cat’s body. If too many oils are in the cat’s body, the body will start to shut down. 

The oils will act as toxins in the body. This is why oranges are considered a toxic food item for cats. Keep in mind that toxins aren’t necessarily poisonous, and they won’t have immediate effects.

A toxin is something your body doesn’t understand how to process, so it stays in your body.

Enough of a material considered a toxin to your body will build up and have nasty effects, making it a toxic material. 

The fruit is toxic to cats because a cat’s body cannot process the essential oils in oranges. Other citrus fruits will have the same effects as oranges on cats, so ensure cats stay away from citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and limes.

Fed Up With Cats In Your Garden?

We’ve Put Together a Complete and Free Guide on How to STOP Cats From Pooping In Your Garden – Including 9 Deterrents to Try:

Does the Smell of Oranges Hurt Cats?

Cats have heightened senses, and their sense of smell is particularly strong. Because of their excellent sense of smell, they cannot stand being around oranges due to their odour.

Even for people, oranges have strong scents. You can easily smell someone eating an orange from across the room. Now cats have stronger noses than you and can smell things you might not even be aware of. 

Because cats have a sense of smell greater than yours, the citrusy scent of oranges is unbearable to them. Cats smelling an orange that is very close to their faces is the same as us smelling something very unpleasant that is close to our faces.

We will get away from the smell as it’s unbearable to us. Cats will have the same reaction to oranges. 

Are Cats Afraid of Oranges?

Cats don’t like oranges but aren’t exactly afraid of them. Cats avoid going near oranges because of their strong citrusy smell, which is unbearable to cats. An orange’s smell is unpleasant to cats and is the same as how the scent of sulfur feels revolting to you. 

Do Cats Hate Lemons and Limes Too?

Yes, cats seem to hate any form of citrus fruit. They all emit a strong, citrus scent which is what puts cats off. This is why they hate oranges, lemons and limes!

Can You Use Oranges to Deter Cats?

Because of their intense smell, most cats dislike being around oranges and other citrus fruits like lemons and grapefruits. Because of this, orange-scented products such as orange-scented oils have become popular ways to deter cats. 

As a gardener trying to deter cats, you can use the hate cats have against citrus fruit to your advantage. There are several ways you use oranges as a deterrent.

The simplest way is to spread orange peels around your garden for a cat to stumble across. Unfortunately, the smell won’t last very long as the peels become stale and the weather will wash them off their scent, so this isn’t the best long-term solution.

The other option is to use orange oil in a homemade cat repellent spray (we have a few recipes here). This can then be sprayed around your garden where a cat often enters your garden – thick places like gaps in fences or under gates.


A cat will mainly eat meat and other protein-rich foods. Cats don’t like fruits, especially citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. A cat despises oranges not because of the fruit but because of the smell it emits.

Cats have heightened senses that are greater than our senses, so if a scent is strong to us, it will be 10 times stronger to a cat, and this is why a cat cannot stand being near oranges, as its smell is unbearable – almost like sulphur is to a human! 

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