Are Air Fresheners Bad For Cats? 7 Best Cat-Friendly Air Fresheners

We have all had times when we come back to a home that reeks of bad odor and we wish we could turn that around at the snap of our fingers. Well, solving odor problems by simply using an air freshener is a no-brainer but this can become a cause for concern when you have a feline friend at home. Plus, sometimes your cat might contribute significantly to this unpleasant smell.

Humans have developed various deodorizing solutions such as plug-ins, air fans, diffusers, and aroma beads but in general, are air fresheners bad for cats to inhale? 

Most air fresheners are toxic for cats due to the presence of volatile and semi-volatile compounds in them. Study reveals that the chemicals present in these fresheners are the major cause of allergies in cats. In the long run, they may cause asthma and in severe cases may result in cancer, liver and kidney failure, and even the death of your cat.

To correct the common misconception, not all fresheners are harmful, as a matter of fact, experts at ASPCA consider a widely used air freshener, Febreeze, safe for all pets except birds. Regardless, using air fresheners in any pet-inhabited environment should be done with utmost caution.

Let’s talk a bit more about how toxic most commercially sold air fresheners for cats are, alongside some recommended cat-friendly air fresheners available.

Toxicity Of Air Fresheners For Cats

Deodorizers are toxic for cats as they contain a heavy amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, etc. Phthalates ( a semi-volatile compound) are also one of the most active and dangerous ingredients present in air fresheners. Inhaling phthalates can lead to adverse reactions or reproductive disorders in cats.

These primary volatile compounds can easily bind to the ozone and make secondary chemicals like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are mostly carcinogens and are not only lethal for pets but also for humans as well. Unfortunately, most harmful ingredients in air fresheners are not disclosed because manufacturing companies are not bound by law to do so.

VOCs can easily come in contact with your cat through licking, touching, and inhaling, as they get easily absorbed in carpets, walls, furniture, and other surfaces and have a tendency to re-enter the environment, even when the air freshener is not in use. 

Symptoms Of Air Freshener Poisoning In Cats

The sharp scent of essential oil can distress cats, they may feel a tingling sensation and itching in the nose and eyes. 

After spraying deodorizer, if your cat licks the floor, furniture, or any leaky bottle of freshener, she may suffer from some mild reactions like sneezing, dizziness, coughing attacks, difficulty in breathing, etc.

The situation becomes even worst when your cat accidentally ingests this toxic chemical, and may show some symptoms of gastrointestinal poisoning like vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, excessive salivation, depression, lethargy, and diarrhea. If you notice blood in vomiting or stool then you are dealing with an emergency. 

Some long-term effects of air fresheners are also possible, owners who use air fresheners very often in their surroundings, after a few years their lovely kitty may become the victim of asthma, with severe respiratory distress.

Most plugin air fresheners release a chemical called phthalate, which is extremely poisonous to cats. Upon regular inhaling, it may cause hormonal imbalance, cancer, and birth issues in cats. If ingested by chance may cause lung, liver, and kidney damage even leading to death.

Do Cats Like The Smell Of Air Fresheners?

No, cats don’t like the smell of air fresheners at all, because they contain essential oils in them. Felines are more sensitive to smells than humans, hence, air fresheners and other strong aromas are very repellent to them.

As a human, we love the sweet scents of essential oils like lavender, tea tree, citrus, and eucalyptus around us, but compare to humans, a cat’s nose may find them 14 times more pungent due to the presence of 200 million smell receptors in their nose as opposed to humans with only 5 million. They also have highly developed olfactory lobes.

Are There Any Cat-Safe Air Fresheners? Best Cat-Friendly Options

Yes, there are still some cat-friendly air fresheners that will not only add a fragrant boost to your living area and eliminate the unpleasant pet odor from your house but are also safe for your pet’s health. Below is a reviewed list of the 7 best cat-friendly air fresheners for your home.

1. Febreze Pet Odor Eliminator

Febreze Pet Odor Eliminator, 27 Oz (Pack of 2)
  • Doesn't just mask, cleans away odors with OdorClear Technology
  • Ceans away odors embedded in fabrics and other soft surfaces, leaving a light, fresh scent
  • Perfect for hard-to-wash fabrics such as clothing, upholstery, carpets, and window treatments
  • Eliminates pet odors and leaves behind a light, just-cleaned scent
  • Doesn't contain phthalates, formaldehyde or flammable propellants
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Febreze Small Space Pet Odor Fighter can be a great option for your small houses and cat litter boxes. They are easy to handle, long-lasting, and can easily tuck in small corners. Simply activate them and leave, they will gradually release the scent and last for up to 40 days. Besides its continuous freshness and wholesome fragrance, it is the only deodorizer that ASPCA regards as safe for dogs and cats, making it very sought-after.

It has a great advantage in that it eliminates the pet odor from my house, it doesn’t contain any allergic ingredients, and completely safe for my cat’s health. Still, I would suggest you keep it away from your cat’s reach. 


  • Pet friendly
  • Last more than 40 days
  • Suitable for small homes
  • Eliminate pet odor instead of masking 


  • Not suitable for large spaces.

2. Air Wick Plug-in Scented Oil

Air Wick Plug In Scented Oil Starter Kit, 2 Warmers + 6 Refills, Vanilla & Pink Papaya, Essential Oils, Air Freshener
  • FRAGRANCE: Pink Papaya and juicy, exotic red fruits add a modern twist to this vanilla fragrance for a harmonious fusion
  • Provides up to 360 days of continuous and long-lasting fragrance based on low setting
  • Infused with natural essential oils for a better fragrance experience
  • Easy adjust warmer with 5X fragrance settings. Refills are compatible with all versions of Air Wick plug in warmers
  • USE IN ANY ROOM: living room, bathroom, bedroom, hallways, kitchens and office
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It’s an amazing product with a wonderful fragrance of lavender and a gentle scent of chamomile. This kit comes up with 2 warmers and 6 refills. Its fragrance is heavenly and long-lasting, one can use refills for 360 days. 

Luckily, Air Wick Plug-in fresheners don’t contain phthalates and acetone, hence are safe for my kitty to inhale. My favorite feature is that refills can rotate upwards and downwards and provide better dispersion in every corner of my home.


  • Beautiful refreshing fragrance
  • Long lasting till 360 days
  • Better dispersion of scent
  • Pet friendly


  • The scent might be faded for some people

3. Maui Wowie Mango Air Freshener

Maui Wowi Auto Automobile Room Office Perfume Scented Hanging Paper Air Freshener (6 Qty)
  • Tropical Scent!
  • 10 Day Scent Guarantee!
  • Hang in auto, office or home!
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This air freshener bottle will bring you to yards of Huawei with a fruity combination of mango, pineapple, and fresh peaches. Maui Wowie Mango air fresheners are long-lasting and your house will smell fantastic, this spray releases strong enzymes that attack and eliminate the unpleasant pet odor, just give a short burst and breathe easy. 

This is entirely safe for pets and does not contain carcinogens. It comes in an attractive and small size bottle of 7 oz. What I like about this product you can spray it into the circulatory vent. 


  • Fruity, long-lasting, and circulatory vent 
  • Great for pet households
  • Doesn’t include carcinogens
  • The enzymatic formula that kills the bad smell


  • Small size bottle

4. Pet Scents Deodorizing Gel Beads

Arm & Hammer for Pets Air Care Pet Scents Deodorizing Gel Beads in Fresh Breeze
  • Combat pet odors to keep your home smelling fresh
  • Infused with baking soda to naturally tackle pet smells and odors
  • Perfect for pet odor elimination of all kinds. It's even great as a bathroom freshener
  • FRESH BREEZE FRAGRANCE EVERYONE CAN ENJOY – Everyone will enjoy the refreshing fresh breeze scent left behind by these fragrance beads
  • 12 OZ FRAGRANCE BEADS – The Arm & Hammer Air Care Pet Scents Deodorizing Gel beads come in a 12 oz for long lasting freshness
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Arm and Hammer offer odor-masking gel pearls, just open the lid, remove the sealing, and cover it again and you can enjoy its gentle scent for up to 2-3 months.

This product is cat-friendly and is non-toxic and non-allergic because they contain natural ingredient baking soda that can absorb the bad scents around your living area. 

It is not recommended to display these deodorizing gel beads on the table or counter, as they are deadly for cats and children upon ingestion.


  • It contains natural ingredients, baking soda
  • Suitable for pets to inhale
  • Fight against pet stench
  • Reliable till 3 months


  • Mask the scent, do not exterminate it 
  • Risk of pet and children ingestion

5. Febreze Unstoppable Touch Fabric Spray and Odor Fighter

Febreze Fabric Spray

Unstopable Touch Fabric Refresher Spray, Odor Fighter for Strong Odor, Fresh & Paradise, 16.9 Oz (2 Packs)

  • Get a burst of freshness with every touch thanks to Febreze Unstopables Touch Fabric Spray
  • Breakthrough touch-activated technology stores scent in your fabrics so you can fight odors and enjoy on-demand freshness​
  • Use Febreze Touch on your couch, carpets, pillows, blankets, or even try it on your favorite clothes​
  • Gives fabrics a kick of long-lasting freshness you'll want to sniff over and over again ​
  • Bring the vacation vibes home with the fruity, beachy scent of Febreze Touch Paradise
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If you love strong scents for your home then you can choose Febreze Unstoppable Touch Fabric Spray and Odor Fighter which effectively fights against pet and laundry odors. You can simply spray them on pet couches, cushions, blankets, and carpets to remove the stink and even you can use it on your clothes to get good results. 

It doesn’t create a spray mist, rather it comes out in the form of tiny droplets, so accidentally if falls on the floor, it can be slippery for you and your pets as well.


  • Suitable to use when your pets are around  
  • Can effectively remove bad odors
  • Long-lasting
  • Multiple uses


  • Strong and overbearing scent
  • A slippery floor can cause pet accidents 

6. iPettie Cat Litter Box Odor Genie

iPettie Cat Litter Box Odor Genie
  • Eliminates litter smell by using ozone (3mg/h), which oxidizes and decomposes the pesky odors. And negative ion which reduces litter dust.
  • Odorless & 100% Cat Friendly
  • Auto On/Off & 100% Safe – When the cat approaches, the Odor Genie will turn off through the built-in infrared sensor, but once no other movement is detected, the Odor Genie will reactivate.
  • Long-Term Use & USB Powered
  • 1 x Adhesive-Backed Sticker as Bonus – Thanks to the sticker, the Odor Genie can be placed wherever it is needed, but also can easily be removed if needed.This sticker uses an anti-scratch design, so there is no need to worry about the device falling off due to your cat's scratching.

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This fragrance-free product works quite differently from others and especially targets the smell of cat litter boxes. Instead of spray, it releases negative ions that react with smell causing ammonia and producing odorless oxygen, nitrogen, and water. Moreover, it kills 99% of bacteria as well. 

Most importantly it does not contain any VOCs or any other harmful ingredient and is safe for cats. It holds its USB charging cable

( without adapter) and you can recharge it after 10 days.


  • Save for cats
  • Neutralizes smell with ions
  • Re-chargeable with 10 days battery life
  • Odor less


  • Holds only a USB cable, no adapter

7. Fresh wave Air Freshener

Fresh Wave Lemon Odor Removing Gel, 15 oz. | Pack of 2
  • A 15 oz Gel Jar usually lasts 30-60 days. Running low? Top off your jar with our convenient refills.
  • Does not contain any parabens, sulfates, phthalates, perfumes, or harsh chemicals.
  • Plant-based and powerful—like lemon, lime, pine, clove, anise, and cedarwood—for effective odor elimination.
  • Reduce odors and restore balance in kitchens, kids' rooms, closets, offices, and anywhere with strong smells.
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Fresh wave is one of my favorite air fresheners, as it is made up of all-natural ingredients like lime, clove, and pine. It leaves a perfect refreshing aroma around you. The best thing is that this product is EPA approved. 

They are perfectly safe to use for pets, children, and even for the planet, as they do not contain any harmful phthalates, alcohol, synthetic perfumes, etc.

Fresh waves genuinely mask the bad cat odors and can be used as a fabric deodorizer.


  • Multiple uses
  • 100% natural ingredients
  • Pet and planet friendly
  • EPA labeled


  • Just masks and does not eliminate the smell
  • Comes in small size bottle

Alternative Ways Cat Owners Can Eliminate Odors At Home

Are you fed up with spending so much money on expensive air fresheners and still you are afraid of their hidden toxic ingredients, that can cause mild to serve breathing issues in your lovely cat?  

Let’s try your own all-natural DIY air fresheners to get rid of nasty pet odors from your house.

1. Baking Soda

This natural bicarb soda is at the top of the list, with odor-absorbent abilities. Most deodorizers prefer to add baking soda as a natural ingredient in their products.

As a pet owner, you can simply sprinkle it on affected spots and let it sit for 20-30 minutes until baking soda performs its magical duty. You can also mix it with vinegar and spray it all around your house. It is not only budget-friendly but also effective against pesky pet odors and of course, it is chemical-free.

However, later on, a pet parent should vacuum properly to remove the powder.

2. Lemon juice and Hydrogen peroxide

One of the most popular house-based chemical compounds and smell exterminators is hydrogen peroxide. Smart pet owners use the mixture of lemon and hydrogen peroxide to kill the bacteria and it oxidizes ammonia, present in the cat’s urine, while citrus will add a nice scent to your home. 

Simply pour it on the affected area for 5 minutes and wipe it off immediately, one can also add a small amount of dishwasher for fragrance. 

Do not leave it on carpets and other fabrics for more than 5 minutes, because they possess bleaching properties. 

3. Vinegar

One of the best alternatives to synthetic air freshener is white and apple cider vinegar, this DIY home-based acidic remedy has excellent properties to fight against pungent pet odors and neutralizes bacteria.

Make a cleaning solution of apple cider and white vinegar and spray it on pee or poop areas, wipe it off with a cloth, and repeat until the smell goes away. You can make a strong mixture by adding baking soda and using it likewise. 

Vinegar is all-natural and safe for pets, but it contains a strong tingling scent as well. 

4. Enzymatic Cleaners

One of the best ways to deal with bad pet odors is through the breakdown of ammonia whether it is in the cat’s urine, feces, or vomit. Enzymatic cleaners work best for this. They are easily available in stores and their strong chemicals release certain enzymes that react with ammonia and washes away all unpleasant smell from your home. 

Maui Wowie Mango Air Freshener and Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray are great options for this solution.

However, they should be kept away from the reach of pets and children due to hazardous chemicals. 

5. Keep Your Home, Including Litter Boxes, Clean.

If you want your home to bloom with fragrances then cleaning your house and most importantly litter box of your cat on daily basis is important, you must vacuum the carpeted areas of your house and try to remove the pee or poop of your feline immediately. 

You should wash your cat’s bed and blankets and litter boxes to make them smell good, after that you can sprinkle baking soda to get rid of any leftover smell. 

6. Seek Professional Help

Most of the time despite all your efforts your house is still blowing with pet smell. To get rid of this irritation you can seek help from professional house cleaners. They have special equipment and the expertise to rid your house of any offensive smell.

Welcoming cleaning professionals to your house can be expensive but it’s definitely a good value for your money.

What To Do If Your cat Is Poisoned By Air Fresheners

Usually, severe poisoning can be seen in cats when they accidentally ingest air fresheners, the condition may become even worse when these toxic chemicals are digested by the small intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream.

As a first aid, you should not try to induce vomit in your cat, rather immediately try to wash her paws, skin, and face with soap, next keep the specific air freshener with you and rush to the vet.  

Upon ingestion quick and prompt medical attention can mask the effect of poisoning and can save your pet’s life.

Your vet may take blood tests to confirm liver and kidney conditions and may prescribe intravenous fluids to combat dehydration due to kidney dysfunctioning and may recommend a special nutritional diet if they find any liver damage. 

Anti-vomiting medication, stomach protectants, painkillers, and antibiotics can also be given for faster recovery. 

Final Thoughts

Everybody loves a house full of sweet and fruity fragrances, but if you have stinky cat litter at your home, then most owners prefer a quick and short burst of air fresheners to mask the effects of irritating and embarrassing pet odor, but most of us are unaware of noxious hidden ingredients of air fresheners that are making your feline sick. 

The presence of VOCs and other active chemicals like phthalate are extremely poisonous for cats and may pose serious health issues like asthma, irritation in the respiratory tract, diarrhea, vomiting, and in severe conditions kidney and liver failure, etc. 

As a pet owner, one can use pet-friendly options and DIY home remedies to freshen up your home. 

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