Help! My Cat Smells Like Poop!

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Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

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cat smells like poop

“My Cat Smells Like Poop,” an expression that we sometimes hear from other furparents.   

Cats are known for being fastidiously clean animals, so it can be shocking when you sit down to cuddle with your furry friend only to find that she suddenly smells like an outhouse in the middle of summer. You find this smell disgusting of course and chances are your cat doesn't like being smelly either.

Your first instinct may be to bathe Kitty, which she may or may not agree to. (There is a way to clean your cat and still keep all your fingers.) This may be all that's needed, but you want to find the underlying cause to keep it from happening again. Read on to find out what may be causing your cat's bad odor and how to fix it.

There is a problem behind this

It is not normal at all for a cat to smell like this. As a pet parent, it is your job to find out why Kitty smells bad and come up with a viable solution to the problem.

Fortunately, this situation is fairly easy to troubleshoot. Worst case scenario: Your cat may have to go to the vet to get her anal glands drained or removed.

Best case scenario: Kitty just needs to change her diet a little. All you have to do is observe your cat's habits and do a little investigation.

Why does my cat smells like poop?

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There are many reasons why a cat may suddenly develop a disagreeable odor. A poor diet resulting in diarrhea and/or flatulence is a common culprit as is a dirty litter box. A cat that goes outdoors a lot may get dirty by rooting through garbage or chasing prey into someone's compost heap.

Infected anal glands is the most serious cause, but fortunately the least common. If you have a long haired cat like a Persian, Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat, their fur might be matted by fecal matter.

There is also the possibility that Kitty tried to tangle with a skunk or other musky wild life. A good old fashioned dip in tomato juice might clear things up. If this doesn't work, try a mix of one quart hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of mild dish detergent.

Keep in mind that skunks can carry rabies, so that's two good reasons to keep your cat nice and far away from Pepe Le Pew.

Change of diet

Kitty has a very sensitive stomach. Even a small change can cause big problems. If you recently changed your cat's diet, a bad smell is a good reason to change it back. Check the litter box for signs of diarrhea.

If your cat has diarrhea stains on her fur, you can clean her off with baby wipes or wipes specifically for cleaning pets.

If you must change your cat's diet, always make it a slow, gradual process and do not feed her grainy fillers.

Dirty litter

Have you been changing the litter as often as you should? A dirty litter box can lead to a smelly kitty. Clean your cat's litter box out regularly.

Some cats, especially young kittens who are still getting used to the litter box, might think kitty litter is fun to play with, getting dirty litter all over themselves.

If you see a cat having a little too much fun in her litter box, coax her out by offering her a toy to play with. You may also want to research for a brand of cat litter that doesn't stick easily to fur.

Dirty cat

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Outdoor cats aren't as strict about hygiene as indoor cats. You have not only general dirtiness to worry about, but parasites as well. If Kitty really hates the water you can rub her down with pet wipes. A good brushing also helps.

Infected anal glands

Has Kitty been scooting on the carpet or scratching, licking and biting at her backside a lot? Could be the anal glands got infected. Time to take Kitty to the veterinarian to get them drained or removed plus a dose of antibiotics.

Matted Bum Hair

Long haired cats sometimes get their fur matted with fecal matter and urine. A cat with injuries that make grooming difficult makes it even worse. Make sure your cat is well groomed. Sometimes, shaving Kitty's bum might be the easiest way about it. Ask your veterinarian or groomer to show you how to do this safely.

Causes due to medical conditions 

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1. Mats Can Cause Rear End Odor in Cats

Check your cat's fur for fecal or urine stains. If she doesn't like baths, there's wipes and combs that might do the trick. The cat's rear end might have to be shaved every once in a while to keep it from matting.

2. Urinary Tract Infection Can Cause a Smelly Cat

The bacteria that causes urinary tract infection causes cat urine to smell even worse. A urinary tract infection needs to be treated by a veterinarian. If you have a tomcat, he could have urinary blockage and needs to be rushed to the vet.

3. Arthritis Can Cause a Stinky Kitty

Arthritis can make it difficult or even painful for a cat to groom herself as well as she used to. Take her to a veterinarian to have this treated. Do not give your cat arthritis medication meant for humans as they could be fatal.

4. Chronic Illness Can Result in Stinky Kitties

Is Kitty overweight? This can make it hard for her to groom herself, plus create skin rolls that are difficult to clean. All the more reason to watch Kitty's weight. Any long lasting illness can result in greasy fur, dandruff and unpleasant odors. To make matters worse, a sick cat may lose interest in grooming.

Follow your vet's instructions to nurse your cat back to health and give her a gentle but thorough grooming to make her smell better. She'll feel a little better too.

My cat stinks like poop?

While stools do not normally have a pleasant smell, sometimes stools or feces can smell extremely strong and putrid. The cause for foul smelling stools in cats or humans can be very similar. In kittens, foul fecal odors are often associated with the introduction of new foods or with inflammation from parasites.

How can I stop my cat from smelling?

Scoop Daily. The best way to reduce litter box smells is to get rid of the stuff that's smelly. Wash Thoroughly. Replace the Boxes. Add More Well-Sized Boxes. Ventilate. Baking Soda. Clean Messes Quickly and Thoroughly.

Is it normal for a cat's bum to smell?

Cats have two anal glands, one on either side of the anus, that produce a musky or fishy smelling material. Under normal circumstances, pet parents are barely aware that these glands exist, but if your cat becomes scared or excited, he or she may release their contents.

Why does my cat stink?

Halitosis is the most common cause of obvious foul odor in cats. Dental disease, oral cancer, and kidney failure are the most common causes of foul breath seen in my feline practice. Also, many cats are unable to groom their anal and genital region due to obesity.

  • Updated September 7, 2023
Sheena Paredes

Sheena is a graduate of BS Psychology. While her course is not related to her new-found role, her time at the university helped her develop the skills and attitude she needs to write high-quality content.