Why Are Cats Attracted to the Scent of Bleach? 3 Likely Reasons & FAQ

cat sniffs detergent in a measuring cup

If you’ve ever caught your cat showing a peculiar fondness for the smell of bleach, you may be wondering what could be triggering this behavior. Perhaps you’ve witnessed your cat rubbing against surfaces recently treated with bleach, and it’s left you curious. Well, fear not! This article aims to shed light on the most likely explanations behind your cat’s affinity for the smell of bleach.

The 3 Reasons Cats Like the Smell of Bleach:

1. Chlorine Pheromones

Pheromones play a crucial role in feline bonding, territory marking, and mating. In this context, the smell of chlorine can act as a pheromone, which entices cats to roll and sniff areas where bleach has been used. Some cats may simply be instinctively drawn to the scent of bleach due to their hormones, perceiving it as a potential mate or triggering a mating response.

Beautiful cat with bright orange eyes rolling, staring, playing with catnip on white background
Image Credit: Scalia Media, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Interprets the Smell as an Intruder

Because chlorine in bleach releases pheromones, your cat may mistake this unfamiliar scent for an intruder in their territory. They may investigate the area and continuously sniff it to detect any potential threat, such as another cat they are not acquainted with. These chemical pheromones trick their brain into perceiving the scent as that of an unknown feline.

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Additionally, your cat might roll onto the bleached area in an attempt to replace the foreign smell with their own, marking it as part of their territory.

3. Chemical Interaction

Chlorine appears to have a drug-like effect on cats, similar to catnip. Researchers believe that chlorine can activate the happy receptors in a cat’s brain, just like catnip does. Nepetalactone, an oil found in catnip, binds to receptors in a cat’s nasal tissue, stimulating sensory neurons that activate various sensory regions in the brain. This reaction resembles how a cat behaves after prolonged exposure to bleach, hence the “drug-like” response.

Happy cat
Image Credit: islam zarat, Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Let Your Cat Smell Bleach?

While bleach is an irritant and harsh cleaning product, occasional exposure to the smell in a well-ventilated environment should not adversely affect your cat’s health. However, constant inhalation of bleach can be potentially harmful. When cleaning with bleach around cats, it’s advisable to dilute the mixture to reduce its concentration when it dries. Alternatively, you can opt for pet-friendly cleaning agents if your cat exhibits a strong negative reaction to bleach.

Why Don’t All Cats Like the Smell of Bleach?

Not all cats pay attention to the smell of bleach, and some may even find it unappealing, turning their noses up at the scent. Heritable traits within the feline species, combined with individual cat differences, influence their reactions to bleach and its chemical components.

It’s important to note that a cat’s behavior is not solely determined by genetics. Certain cat breeds, such as the Ragdoll, may be more prone to reacting to the smell of bleach, especially due to their sensitivity to pheromones.

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Why Do Cats Seem to Like the Smell of Bleach?

Cats possess a remarkable ability to detect intriguing chemical components through their heightened sense of smell. As solitary hunters, they rely heavily on their senses, which explains their keen olfactory and auditory perception. While bleach might not appeal to your senses, it might hold an interesting aroma for your feline friend.

The sniffing and rolling behaviors exhibited by some cats when exposed to bleach can indicate their approval of the scent. It can also serve as a way for them to claim the smell of bleach as their own, particularly if they are enticed by the pheromones released by the chlorine.


The primary reason cats are drawn to the smell of bleach lies in the presence of chlorine and the pheromones it produces, which can confuse your cat’s senses. Their reactions to bleach can vary depending on their breed, individual personality, and tolerance to chemicals.


  • Featured Image Credit: TShaKopy, Shutterstock *

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