Why Does My Cat Smell Like Poop?

Kitty jumps up into your lap and WOW -- it smells like she forgot to wipe! Later, when she jumps back down to go about other business, your clothing smells just like she did.

"Why does my cat smell like poop?" you might be wondering... 

Your cat’s awful odor may be caused by one or more factors, such as diet, infection, illness, or a physical condition that affects your cat’s ability to groom itself. To treat your cat’s odor, you will have to look for indications of one or more specific causes included in the list below.

You Cat's Diet

A cat’s digestive system is sensitive, making your cat prone to food allergies and food intolerance. When a cat is allergic or intolerant to something in its food, it may stop eating altogether, vomit, and/or develop diarrhea.

Cats are also highly sensitive to sudden changes in diet. If you recently switched to a new cat food brand, or you switched from dry kibble to wet canned food (or vice versa), this very well may have caused your cat’s diarrhea.

One of the first things to check is to see if your cat has diarrhea. Look at its rear end to see if it has any feces dried on around its anus and fur. If it does, look in the litter box to see if you can find any puddles of feces. If you have kitty litter that clumps, then you may need to cut the clumps apart to determine if you are actually looking at feces or urine. It may be a bit off-putting, but this will help you to determine if your cat has diarrhea.

If your cat has diarrhea, and you think it is due to a food allergy or food intolerance, you may want to have your cat examined by a veterinarian to learn what your cat has grown allergic or intolerant to.

If you recently switched your cat’s food without gradually introducing it, go back to feeding your cat the food it was eating before. Introduce the new food over a week or two, gradually increasing the ratio of new food until your cat is able to eat the new food without getting diarrhea.

Physical Conditions

  • Obesity
    Overweight cats have difficulty reaching all the places they need to in order to clean themselves. When your cat cannot adequately clean its genital and anal areas, you may find that your cat begins to smell like urine and feces.

  • Arthritis
    As cats age, they may develop arthritis, just like us humans. This can make it painful and difficult for a cat to groom itself.

  • Injury
    If your cat has ever been injured, this may make it difficult or impossible for your cat to groom itself. Certain types of injuries may limit its range of motion such that your cat can no longer reach all the areas it needs to in order to clean itself.

  • Surgery
    If your cat has had an operation, it may not be able to groom itself while healing. In some cases, the surgery may leave your cat unable to clean itself thoroughly.

Infections

  • Parasitic
    Cats are susceptible to parasites which may be worm-like, such as stomach worms, roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, or single-celled micro-organisms like Isospora, Giardia, and Toxoplasma. Symptoms are non-specific and may include dull fur, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, mucoid or bloody feces, loss of appetite, pale mucous membranes, or a pot-bellied appearance.

    Such infections will weaken a cat, making it susceptible to other viral and bacterial infections. If you think your cat has a parasite infection, have it examined by your veterinarian. Parasite infections are treatable with oral medication.

  • Bacterial
    The most common infections cats experience are Upper Respiratory infections (URI), Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), and anal gland infections.

    Cats with a URI may show symptoms of a runny nose, discharge from the nose, difficulty breathing. If your cat has a UTI, you may observe it urinating often. You may also find urine stains on the floor and furniture where it sits. In some cases, your cat may smell strongly of urine.

    Anal gland infection may happen as a result of soft stools or diarrhea. Firm feces help keep the anal glands healthy by regularly emptying them of fluid. When anal glands aren’t emptied frequently enough, they may become inflamed and infected.

    If you think your cat has a bacterial infection, get it to your veterinarian for examination. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat infections. If your cat has weeping anal glands or if they are infected, set an appointment for your vet to drain the glands.
WHY DOES MY CAT SMELL LIKE POOP?

Other Reasons Why Your Cat Smells Like Poop

  • Fur Mats
    When a long-haired cat is unable to groom itself, its fur becomes matted quickly. These mats are painful for your cat, pulling on its fur. If your cat develops mats, and won’t let you remove them, you may need to take it to your veterinarian and have them removed. If you have an aging or obese cat, you can be proactive and help by grooming it.

  • Grooming Your Cat
    When your cat cannot adequately groom itself, you can help by brushing your cat’s fur once a day and using pet wipes to clean its fur.

    Pet wipes are safe for pets, so if your cat elects to groom itself where it can't reach, the wipes won’t make it sick. You may also want to bathe your cat once a week. This isn’t necessary, but may help to get rid of the awful odor your cat currently has.

Taking Care of Business

When dealing with a stinky cat, you must look at diet, physical condition, and it your cat has any infections or other issues causing that odor. Taking care to gradually introduce a different kind of cat food will help your cat to adjust to it, preventing diarrhea and all its unpleasant issues.

Having your cat examined for parasitic and bacterial infections will help determine which ones to treat, if any. By methodically ruling out various causes, you will narrow it down to one or two causes which are almost always treatable.

When you have ruled out diet and infections, you are left with a cat that may be overweight or aging, needing some help with keeping clean. Brushing and wiping your cat down daily will help keep your kitty happy, healthy, and odor-free.

After reading this article and taking the necessary steps to fix the issue, hopefully you can stop wondering: "Why does my cat smell like poop?"

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