What smell makes a cat gag?

As a cat lover, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up with your furry feline friend. But, unfortunately, sometimes things can take a turn for the worse when your cat starts gagging due to an unpleasant odor. Have you ever experienced this situation? If so, you know how distressing it can be to see your pet in discomfort.

Cats have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, which means what we find mildly unpleasant could be unbearable to them. So, what exactly is the smell that makes a cat gag? It’s essential to understand this if we want to keep our cats healthy and happy.

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In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of cat behavior and explore the various factors that can cause cats to gag. From unpalatable smells to their body’s natural reaction, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this mysterious phenomenon. We’ll also reveal why cats have such an acute sense of smell and provide tips on preventing your furry friend from experiencing this unpleasant reaction.

So buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through the fascinating world of cats. By the end of this post, you’ll know precisely what smells to avoid and how to keep your feline friend purring contentedly by your side.

What is Ammonia and Why Does it Make Cats Gag?

One way to do this is by being aware of the smells that can make your cat gag, including ammonia. But what exactly is ammonia, and why does it make cats gag?

Ammonia is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that is commonly found in cleaning products, fertilizers, and animal waste. This highly toxic substance can be harmful to both humans and pets and is one of the most common household toxins.

Cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, which means they are more sensitive to ammonia’s strong odor. When cats smell ammonia, they may start to gag, cough, or sneeze. This is because ammonia irritates their respiratory system, which can lead to more severe health problems if they are exposed to it for prolonged periods.

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Cats are particularly sensitive to ammonia because their liver has a harder time breaking down the toxic substance compared to other animals. As a result, when cats are exposed to high levels of ammonia, it can lead to serious health problems such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or lung damage.

To keep your cat safe from ammonia, it’s crucial to avoid using harsh chemical cleaners that contain ammonia and instead opt for natural cleaning solutions. Regularly cleaning litter boxes and any other areas where cat urine or feces may accumulate is also essential. If you notice a strong smell of ammonia in your home, open the windows and doors to ventilate the area.

In addition to ammonia, there are other smells that can make cats gag, such as cigarette smoke, cleaning products, and spoiled food. Being aware of these smells and taking necessary precautions to keep your cat healthy and safe is crucial.

The Dangers of Cigarette Smoke for Cats

Cigarette smoke is not just harmful to humans but also poses a severe threat to cats. The chemicals present in cigarette smoke can be particularly dangerous to felines, causing them to develop respiratory problems. Cats have a more sensitive respiratory system than humans, making them more prone to the dangers of secondhand smoke.

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Cigarette smoke can cause irritation in a cat’s eyes, nose, and throat, leading to coughing and gagging. Long-term exposure can also result in chronic bronchitis and asthma, which can cause breathing difficulties and even death in extreme cases. Furthermore, cats living with smokers are more likely to develop cancer, especially lymphoma, which directly attacks their immune system.

As a responsible cat owner, it is crucial to recognize the dangers of cigarette smoke and take necessary steps to protect your pet from it. Quitting smoking altogether is the best option; however, if it is not possible, smoking outdoors away from your cat is an excellent alternative. This reduces their exposure to smoke and toxins and minimizes the risk of respiratory problems.

In addition, ensuring proper ventilation in your home is essential in preventing the accumulation of smoke and harmful toxins in the air. Regular cleaning of carpets, curtains, and furniture where smoke residue can accumulate is also vital for maintaining your cat’s health.

Cleaning Products That Can Make Cats Gag

However, some cleaning products can be hazardous to our furry friends. Cats have a heightened sense of smell, making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of certain cleaning agents. So, what cleaning products make cats gag? Here are some essential things to keep in mind.

Ammonia-based cleaners are a common household cleaning product that can make your cat gag. The strong odor of ammonia can irritate your cat’s sensitive nose, leading to coughing, sneezing, and even vomiting. It’s worth noting that ammonia is also present in cat urine, so using ammonia-based cleaners can confuse your cat and lead to inappropriate elimination. This makes it essential to avoid these types of cleaners altogether.

Bleach is another popular cleaner that can cause discomfort for cats. While it’s great for disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens, the strong odor of bleach can irritate a cat’s respiratory system and cause coughing and gagging. Ingesting bleach can also be toxic to cats, so it is crucial to keep it out of their reach.

Furniture polish is another cleaning product that can make cats gag. The chemicals in furniture polish have a strong odor that can trigger coughing and sneezing in cats. Ingesting furniture polish can also be toxic to cats, so keeping it away from them is essential.

Lastly, air fresheners and scented candles are often used to add pleasant fragrances to our homes. However, these products contain synthetic fragrances that can irritate a cat’s respiratory system and trigger coughing or sneezing. Some scented candles even contain essential oils that are toxic to cats when ingested.

Spoiled Food and Strong-Smelling Foods That Can Make Cats Gag

This means that certain odors can make them gag or even vomit, including spoiled food and strong-smelling foods. Let’s explore how these smells can be problematic for your furry companion.

Spoiled food is one of the most common culprits when it comes to making cats gag. When food goes bad, it produces a foul odor that can be overwhelming for cats. Their sensitive sense of smell can detect even the slightest changes in the odor of their food. Giving your cat spoiled food can cause them to refuse to eat it or even vomit after eating it.

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Another type of food that can make cats gag is strong-smelling foods like onions or garlic. While not all cats are affected by these smells, some are very sensitive to them and can have a reaction that causes them to gag or vomit. If you notice that your cat is having a reaction to certain foods, it’s best to avoid giving them those foods in the future.

It’s not just food that can cause problems for your cat’s sensitive nose. Some cleaning products produce strong odors that can be overwhelming for cats too. Using cleaning products with mild odors or those that are unscented and avoiding exposing your cat to them as much as possible is essential.

In addition to spoiled food and strong-smelling foods, there are other types of odors that can make cats gag. For example, cigarette smoke or air fresheners with strong fragrances can be problematic for some cats. It’s important to be mindful of the products you use around your cat and try to choose ones that are unscented or have mild odors.

Tips to Keep Your Cat Safe From Unpleasant Smells

These smells can trigger a gag reflex in your feline friend, causing them to become anxious and distressed. Therefore, it is crucial to take steps to keep your cat safe from unpleasant odors.

Keep the litter box clean

Dirty litter boxes are a significant source of unpleasant smells for cats. It is essential to clean your cat’s litter box regularly, preferably once a day, to prevent odors and keep your cat healthy. A dirty litter box can lead to urinary tract infections, which can cause unpleasant odors and pain for your cat.

Avoid strong-smelling cleaning products

Cats are sensitive to strong-smelling cleaning products, and these products’ chemicals can be harmful to their health. Instead, use natural cleaning products that are safe for cats. You can use baking soda or vinegar to clean surfaces and eliminate odors.

Keep food and garbage covered

Cats are attracted to the smell of food and garbage, which can cause them to gag if the odor is too strong. Keep your cat safe by keeping food and garbage covered and out of reach of your feline friend. You can use sealed containers or trash cans with lids to keep the odors contained.

Use air purifiers

Air purifiers can help eliminate unpleasant smells in your home, making it a safer environment for your cat. Look for air purifiers that are specifically designed for pets and have filters that can trap pet hair, dander, and odors. These filters can remove allergens and pollutants from the air and improve the air quality in your home.

Pay attention to your cat’s behavior

Cats have different reactions to different smells. Some cats may be more sensitive than others, so it is essential to pay attention to your cat’s behavior and reactions to certain smells. If you notice that your cat is becoming distressed or gagging in response to a particular smell, take steps to remove the source of the odor or move your cat away from the area.

Common Signs of Respiratory Problems in Cats

Respiratory problems can occur in cats just like in humans. Respiratory problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, infections, and environmental irritants. It’s important to recognize the common signs of respiratory problems in cats so that you can seek veterinary attention promptly.

Coughing, Sneezing, and Wheezing

Cats with respiratory issues may cough, sneeze or wheeze frequently. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be caused by several factors. If you notice your cat coughing or wheezing persistently, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.

Difficulty Breathing

If your cat is experiencing difficulty breathing or shows signs of labored breathing, seek immediate veterinary attention. Difficulty breathing can be an indicator of a medical emergency and could be caused by various conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, or bronchitis.

Nasal Discharge

Nasal discharge is another common sign of respiratory problems in cats. It can range from clear to colored and may be accompanied by sneezing or coughing. Nasal discharge may indicate various conditions such as upper respiratory infections or sinusitis.

Potential Triggers for Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems in cats can be triggered by various factors, including allergens, irritants, infections, and diseases. Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or certain foods can cause respiratory symptoms in cats. Strong odors from cleaning products, perfumes, smoke, or air fresheners can also irritate a cat’s respiratory system. Infections caused by viruses or bacteria can lead to upper respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing. Diseases such as asthma or heart disease can also cause respiratory distress in cats.

It’s important to minimize your cat’s exposure to these potential triggers by avoiding the use of strong-smelling cleaning products or air fresheners near your cat. Additionally, keeping your cat’s litter box clean can help prevent respiratory issues.

How to Treat Respiratory Problems in Cats

There are several ways to treat respiratory problems in cats, and below are five sub-sections that delve deeper into these methods.

Veterinary Care

If you notice your cat exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and possibly conduct diagnostic tests to identify the underlying cause of the respiratory problem. Once diagnosed, the vet will prescribe medication to help manage the condition.


The type of medication prescribed will depend on the underlying cause of the respiratory problem. For example, if your cat has asthma, they may be given bronchodilators or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the airways and improve breathing. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the issue is due to an infection.

Clean Environment

Keeping your cat’s living environment clean and free from irritants is essential in managing respiratory problems. Use low-dust litter and keep the litter box clean, avoid smoking around your cat, and use air purifiers to filter out any airborne pollutants that may exacerbate their symptoms.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for cats with respiratory issues as excess weight can put additional strain on their lungs, making it harder for them to breathe. Feeding your cat a healthy diet and providing plenty of exercise can help them maintain an optimal weight.

Clean Air

Keeping the air as clean and dust-free as possible can help alleviate respiratory symptoms. Regularly cleaning your cat’s bedding and vacuuming your home can help reduce dust and other irritants in the air. Using a humidifier can also help keep the air moist, reducing irritation to your cat’s respiratory system.

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In conclusion, cats have an extraordinary sense of smell that can be both a blessing and a curse. While their acute sense of smell helps them navigate the world around them, it also makes them more susceptible to unpleasant odors that can make them gag.

Ammonia, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, spoiled food, and strong-smelling foods are just a few examples of smells that can make your cat’s nose curl. To keep your feline friend safe from these offensive odors, there are several precautions you can take.

Firstly, keeping the litter box clean is essential to preventing any unwanted smells from lingering in your home. Avoid using strong-smelling cleaning products or air fresheners near your cat as they can trigger respiratory problems. Keeping food and garbage covered is also crucial in preventing any unpleasant odors from wafting through the house.

Air purifiers are another great tool to filter out any airborne pollutants that may exacerbate your cat’s symptoms. Paying attention to your cat’s behavior is also key; if you notice any coughing, sneezing, wheezing or difficulty breathing, seek veterinary care immediately.