Do cats like the smell of mint is the question and the answer appears to be yes but there is quite a lot of confusion surrounding a discussion about cats and mint. I was drawn into the subject because Japan’s leading cat doctor, Dr Yuki Hattori, writes that “many cats like the minty smell of cat-friendly toothpaste”. So domestic cats like the smell of mint when it comes in the form of toothpaste for cats (of course).
They say, the experts that is, that domestic cats like the smell of mint because it’s quite close to catnip and we know how a lot of domestic cats react favourably when smelling catnip. The problem is that the herb which is called mint (Menthe sp) is toxic to dogs and toxic to cats and horses. The clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhoea if a lot of it is ingested. This is according to ASPCA. Cats can safely eat small amount of the catnip plant, it seems but cats rarely eat it.
To confuse the matter a bit more, you can buy “cat dental mints”. These appear to be like sweets and they are described as treats for cats with a fresh mint scent which gives your cat fresh breath. The flavours are nothing to do with mint but to do with the usual flavours that a carnivore might like such as chicken.
To further add to the confusion, peppermint is a smell which some cats find uncomfortable. Peppermint contains salicylate which is an ingredient of aspirin and aspirin can be poisonous to cats unless given in very small doses under a veterinarian’s supervision.
But I’m told that other cats might be attracted to peppermint because it contains some compounds which are similar to the compound in catnip which is nepetalactone. The experts don’t really know why all cats, domestic and wild, react to catnip as they do.
The majority of cats like catnip but not all of them. The point I’m getting at is that in answer to the question as to whether cats like the smell of mint, you would have to say that, yes, some of them are attracted to it but others aren’t. Importantly, I don’t think there is anything meaningful that can came out of this discussion except to beware of the herb mint. I am responding to the question because it is asked online.
I wouldn’t get involved with it if I were you. It’s a meaningless item of information except that if the Japanese veterinarian I refer to above is correct and if you want to clean your cat’s teeth you might consider trying a cat-friendly toothpaste which has a minty smell. The trouble is I can’t find any online! Like I said this is a pretty meaningless topic.