What To Do When Your Cat Smells Bad – Causes Of Cat Odors & Solutions

You probably settled on having cats as pets because they are generally clean. Now, the kitten is stinky, and you start wondering how to make your furry friend smell better. Some odors are pretty simple to deal with, while you must find a vet for others. To tackle the problem correctly, it is essential to identify the source, so let’s now see the main reasons for cat odors and learn some easy yet effective tricks to prevent them.

Why Does My Cat Smell Bad?

There are several reasons why your cat may be smelling bad, and figuring out where the odor is coming from is the first step toward finding a solution.

Usually, some kind of dirt is responsible for the smells, but it can also happen that your kitten suffers from a health issue, so you should not neglect such situations. Here is a list and explanations of the common causes of cat odors:

Dirt And Debris

Cats are self-groomers, so they usually clean themselves, but they can still get dirty and smelly because they interact with garbage when outdoors or roll into something stinky.

cat with dirty face

Luckily, such cases are easily detectable since dirt leaves visible signs on the coat and goes away after cleaning.

Anal Gland Issues

Cats have two anal glands that make a stinky liquid they use for territory marking. Under normal circumstances, this should not be the reason for pet odors in your home, but if your cat has health conditions, tumors, and/or infections, these glands may produce a fishy-smelling odor.

You can empty the glands at home, too, but visiting a vet who can handle the problem professionally is better.

Skin Problems

If your cat is constantly scratching themself and smelling bad all over, it may be an issue with the skin. Skin infections are uncommon in cats but can still occur due to allergies or parasites.

cat scratching himself

The odor might be coming from wounds or abscesses, which, if ruptured, discharge a foul-smelling secretion. These issues usually do not cause alarms but require further attention and care.

Compromised Oral Health

If your cat ate something smelly, that may be enough reason for foul odors, but it is not normal for cats to have persistent bad breath. Lasting unpleasant smells from your kitten’s mouth may indicate dental disease, oral wounds, or ulcers.

cat with open mouth

Mouth odors may be a warning sign for diseases, too. For diabetes mellitus, you may notice a sweet smell that may evolve into a bordering nail polish aroma if the case worsens. For intestinal blockage, your cat may have a fecal smell throughout. For kidney disease, you may notice an ammonia-like odor from the mouth. If you notice such odors, it is best to consult with your vet as soon as possible.

Ear Infections

Inflammation in the ear is another cause of horrible cat odors. When the ears become irritated, excess wax production creates an ideal environment for yeast to grow, resulting in musty smells. Additionally, tumors, polyps, allergies, ear mites, or foreign objects can also lead to foul odors.

white cat with big ears

Tips To Make Your Cat Smell Good

Now that we know the most common reasons for odors let’s summarize how you can get rid of them so your cat and home both smell pleasant and fresh!

Practice Regular Grooming

Under normal circumstances, a cat is good with self-grooming, but if your furry friend is in poor health, a helping hand may be necessary. Also, the cat may be avoiding proper self-grooming because of long and sharp nails that can be painful on soft parts of the body, so trim the nails from time to time.

Brush your cat’s fur regularly. This will allow you to detect fleas, ticks, wounds, and skin infections early enough.

woman brushing a cat

Also, ensure the hair around your cat’s rear end is short enough. Long hair around the rear end can make removing the trapped fecal matter difficult for the cat. Short hair minimizes the trapping and makes it easy for self-grooming.

Bathe your cat

Generally, healthy adult cats don’t require bathing, but you can still bathe them if they have gotten something sticky or smelly on the fur that can’t be removed with brushing. Bathing will help make your cat smell nicer and reduce shedding; make sure to use a shampoo made specifically for cats.

bathing a cat

If bathing in water seems out of the question, you can also use antiallergen, non-scented wipes or waterless cat shampoo to refresh the fur quickly.

Keep The Litter Box Clean

Ensuring that your cat’s litter box is always clean can go a long way in sustaining a good smell in your home. The best way of doing this is to develop a routine. Try to scoop your cat’s poop at least once every day and clean the entire box once a week.

While cleaning the box, use hot water and soap. Avoid scenting the box, as this may make your cat find alternative places to litter their waste.

If the smell remains after cleaning, you can always add vinegar or hydrogen peroxide in the next wash; this will help remove smell-causing bacteria.

If you need to scrub the litter box, use disposable gloves and a dust mask. After the cleaning, fully dry the box before filling it with fresh litter. If it still smells, sprinkle a little baking soda on it. This trick naturally deodorizes the box by absorbing odors.

Visit Your Vet

Foul odor, as discussed above, can be a symptom of many health problems, so if your cat is battling a disease, the first step is to treat it. If smells seem to last, it is time to see a vet who will conduct a physical examination to identify the source and nature of the smell and actual health issues, if any. The correct diagnosis will not only help to stop the odors but can save your cat’s life.


A stinky cat can be disappointing. Although it is normal for pets to have a temporary unpleasant smell, persistent odors should raise concern. If the smell is not from dirt or debris, it is time to check your cat’s health. Learning the signs and symptoms of diseases can be vital in knowing when to book an appointment with the vet to investigate why your furry friend stinks and how to stop it.

how to make my cat smell better - Pinterest image