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Why Are Cats Afraid of Bananas?

Sometimes cats can be even stranger than we realize, and sometimes, some of the most mundane things can bring the weird out of the cat– even bananas. So, why are cats afraid of bananas?

Cats are afraid of bananas because of the smell. There’s just something about the smell of banana, particularly the banana peel, that drives cats away from the fruit. Studies have shown that the chemical “ethylene” is responsible for cats exhibiting a fearful behavior toward bananas.

Are All Cats Afraid of Bananas?

4 kittens on the lawn

No, not really. Most cats will be repulsed by the smell of bananas, but some might show disdain rather than being fearful.

Much like people, dogs, and other animals, cats are all different in their own way. They don’t all respond with a cookie-cutter response to different things.

For example, some cats will behave themselves and tolerate being bathed, towel-dried, and then blow-dried. But most of the time when it comes down to baths, cats will fight from the second they’re aware that they’re about to get wet, all the way through till the blow-drying is complete.

They’ll fight as if you’re trying to kill them because as far as they’re concerned, you are! But the cats that will tolerate it wouldn’t choose to take the bath but will go along with it because of their nature or conditioning. Two separate reactions from the same type of animal.

Similarly, some cats will respond fearfully at the scent of bananas and tear away, others might recoil at the smell, then simply pass it by and get away casually.

What is Ethylene?

Ethylene compound molecules illustration

As stated above, the chemical in question that is reported to create the “fearful” reaction from cats is called ethylene. Ethylene gas behaves like a plant hormone that assists in the ripening of fruit.

The more production of this chemical, the faster the fruit will ripen, and the faster it will over-ripen. Apples and pears won’t seem to keep as long as bananas. That’s because the ethylene content is stronger in apples, melons, and pears than it is in bananas.

When it comes to cats, the more ripened the fruit (in this case bananas), the stronger the ethylene will hit the cat’s sensitive nostrils. This is why softer bananas will repel cats easier with a more external response than unripen bananas.

Are Banana Peels Harmful to Cats?

banana peel on white background

Are banana peels toxic for cats? In the past, it was widely believed that cats were fearful, or in the least resistant, toward banana peels, because they knew that peels were harmful to them if chewed on or consumed.

Though bananas or their peels aren’t that great for cats, they aren’t toxic or damaging. If anything, there’s no healthy reason why they would want to eat them at all.

Cats are full-on carnivores by nature, and if they wind up eating anything else, they have our influence to thank for it. What they eat by introduction rather than by nature is often things they shouldn’t eat for a variety of reasons.

In the case of bananas, the sugars in the fruit can cause the cat to develop diabetes or become obese. But in reality, there would have to already be something wrong with the cat’s diet if they wound up being driven to eat something that should rather repel them like bananas.

Using Bananas to your Advantage with Cats

cat afraid of a banana

Since we know how cats typically react to the scent of ripened bananas, we can use this reaction to our advantage. That overall advantage would be to keep cats out of areas that we don’t want them to dwell in.

Keeping a Cat out of the Garden

One of these types of places might be a garden. Some cats find that the tilled soil in a garden makes for a great litter box substitute. It doesn’t take much of an imagination why this could create a problem.

Some people use chopped, ripened bananas with peels strategically placed about the garden to keep the cats out of the area. This will save your vedges from being contaminated by cat urine, and prevent gardeners from stepping into something that they would rather have avoided.

Keeping Cats Away from Flowers

Bananas and peels that are ripened or even beginning to over ripen are a great way to keep cats away from flowers- either potted, cut, and put into a vase, or decorative yard flowers.

Though cats wouldn’t normally be interested in eating the flowers, they’ll be more likely to want to just chew on stems, or pull petals off of the flowers in play or, well, just because they feel like it. Unfortunately, some types of flowers can be toxic to cats.

The banana trick can keep cats from damaging outdoor or potted flowers, and even keep them from dumping over a well-flowered vase. The banana chopped up and stored nearby will likely make them want to stay away.

Keeping a Cat out of a Room

If you want to keep a cat out of a particular room in the house, leave some chopped bananas around the room to prevent it from wanting to hang around that space.

Remember, it’s the scent that the cats have an issue with, not necessarily the tangible fruit itself. This means that the smell will reach the cat’s sense of smell in a decent radius, rather than just immediately around the fruit.

The more ripened the banana, the more pungent it will be to the cat’s senses. If you do use this as a form of cat control, make sure that no fruit flies catch wind of your plan; and it also may be a good idea to keep your dog in check, as it may foil your plan by eating the banana.

Finally, always make sure that you’re using the peel along with the fruit, as it’s the peel that emits more of the ethylene gas than the fruit alone would.

Final Thoughts

cat looking at banana

When it comes to manipulating a cat’s behavior, we often need all the help that we can get. If chopping up a simple banana and leaving it out somewhere we don’t want cats to go, it’s an easy fix, albeit a short-lived one (bananas don’t last too long after the air hits it).

They’re plentiful, cheap enough, as well as being a safe method of a deterrent. If our cats are going to be frightened of a banana, we might as well be able to use this as a tool when we need to, not to make the cats miserable.


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