Why Do Cats Go Crazy Over the Smell of Bengay?

It’s funny what cats will find interesting and go crazy for. Some people believe that cats are just nuts, in general. They have their own little quirky behaviors that no one can really explain, but one that is really interesting, is why cats would go crazy over something like a medication, one known as Bengay, a topical pain relief ointment you rub on your skin.

One cat owner noticed that when she used it, her cat would go bonkers over it, attaching himself to her leg and not letting go. So she wrote into a cat expert to get some help. This is what the cat owner was told.

Most topical ointments humans use, contain wintergreen or menthol in their pain medicine formula, and Bengay and Icy Hot, both contain the menthol, and a lot of it. It helps soothe pain. Cats can be attracted to the smell for the exact reason they’re attracted to cat mint. These things run in the same family. Because of this, cat owners need to be really careful and not expose their cat to the actual ointment because there are some that can be harmful to felines. And some, even fatal. Bengay and Icy Hot both contain salicylates, which is the generic name for aspirin. Both dogs and cats can be sensitive to aspirin and especially cats.

The FDA put out a warning regarding topical ointments, for those that contain one particular drug, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug flurbiprofen. This medication is commonly used to treat arthritis and dental and eye pain, although it is not one of the active ingredients in either Icy Hot or Bengay. But there have been several deaths in cats due to having come in contact with the Flurbiprofen.

The expert told the writer that it will be difficult to keep your cat away from your knee where you put the medication because yes, he is obsessed with the smell, but if you let your cat latch onto your bum leg where the medication is, just be sure to keep it covered at all times when he’s around, and be sure to always wash your hands thoroughly.


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