Why Does My Cat Smell Like Urine?

It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but a lot of cat owners run into this problem on a regular basis. I’m talking about why your cat possibly smells like cat urine.

There can be many issues that may pertain to the unpleasant smell coming from your feline, and we’ll talk about each of them. Some can be cleared up with a simple bath, and others may require a trip to the vet and further tests to determine the cause.

So, why does my cat smell like urine? Let's find out! Causes of Urine Smells on Cats:


Let’s start with the easily treatable causes of the urine smell. If your cat is on the heavy side, and has trouble bathing her back end, you may start to notice an unpleasant odor coming from her hind quarters. There are a few ways to treat this issue.

Change the diet of your cat. Talk to your vet about the best way to help your cat drop a few pounds, and what the ideal weight is for your particular cat. This will help your furry friend bathe their back end regularly, which can help with the odor. Since cats are normally extremely hygienic on their own, your cat should start bathing when their body type allows them to do so. If they do not return to bathing regularly, talk to your vet about the causes of this issue.

A heavier cat may also have skin and fat folds around her back end. These folds can be the perfect place for urine to get trapped when your cat uses her litter box. These areas are incredibly difficult for your cat to clean, and the urine smell may grow stronger due to lack of bathing.

Remember – urine that sits on the skin of your pet that isn’t cleaned by your cat himself, or with a little assistance from you, can be the breeding ground for bacteria… which can eventually lead to more odors, and sometimes even a skin infection.

Before changing the diet of your cat, be sure to talk to your vet to plan out the healthiest way to help your feline go on a kitty diet.


  • Not bathing themselves in certain areas can lead to matting in the fur of your cat. If this happens, when your cat uses the litter box, the waste may get caught in his or her fur, and cause an odor as it clings to their body. Mats can occur for reasons other than not bathing as well.
  • Some cats are just prone to mats. Long haired breeds are more likely to have mats in their fur, and if this is a chronic issue, make sure to regularly brush your pet to help them keep their fur from matting. Make sure to pay close attention to your cat’s back end, as this can be where painful and unhygienic mats will form.
  • A wound may be present in a specific area that caused your pet’s fur to mat. If a cut or scrape is present, the fur may stick to the injury, which can cause a mat to form.

If you notice mats on your feline’s fur, the odor may be due to urine collecting in the fur. Mats can be shaved by a vet or an experienced cat groomer, and if this is the cause of the urine odor in your cat, the smell should dissipate once the mats are removed.

You may also try to brush the mats our yourself and clean the area with cat wipes (found at local pet stores!), but sometimes the smell may be so embedded in the fur that a shave is the best way to ensure the smell is removed completely.

Urinary Tract Infections

A urine smell may be something more serious than not bathing or mats on your cat’s fur. The smell of urine may be caused by a urinary tract infection. The bacteria that is living in your cat’s urinary tract can cause their urine to smell incredibly strong, and may even increase the frequency of which your cat uses the litter box. This can increase the urine smell as well!

If you notice that your cat is having accidents, or trouble making it to the litter box before urinating on the floor, this can also be a symptom of a UTI. These infections can be incredibly painful for cats, and can cause emergency situations if not treated properly – so be sure to get your pet to a vet right away!

Anal Glands

These glands are inside the rectum of your cat. They are normally expressed when your cat uses their litter box, however, sometimes your cat may express their anal glands due to fear or wanting to mark their territory. Anal glands have an extremely foul smell. It is strong, and easily detectible.

If you notice this smell regularly, there may be a bigger issue at play. Anal glands can become infected, abscessed, or even regularly leak. If you believe your cat may have an issue with their anal glands, be sure to take them to the vet right away for treatment.

Chronic Illness

While it isn’t fun to think of our beloved kitties having a chronic illness, sometimes it does happen. We treat these as best we can, and try to catch them in time for treatment.

If you notice an increase in urine smell from your cat, this may be a warning sign of a chronic issue. This could be the onset of kidney problems, liver issues, and other health concerns that your vet can help with after running some tests.


While the urine smell is not pleasant, there are ways to treat this. A simple bath may be one option, if you don’t suspect the issue is illness related. While cats may not be the easiest to bathe, there are options if you visit a pet store to make this job easier. Wipes, sprays, and dry shampoos are all options to try to remove the smell from your pet.

As there are several different reasons for the urine smell to be present on your pet, hopefully this list will help you narrow down a few causes, and decide if a trip to the vet is necessary.

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