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Do Cats Smell Bad? (Odor/Foul/Breath/Fur/Skin/Dander)

If you are considering getting a cat or just curious you may be interested to know if cats smell. If they do, there are obvious solutions such as air purifiers (Click here for my best air purifiers for cats), but do they really smell?

Do cats smell bad? No, not usually, especially if they are domesticated. However, I agree that this is quite subjective. There are instances when a cat really does smell bad, for example, if you have a male unneutered cat that wants to mark territory or if your cat has health issues (more on this later).

Now that you know understand that they can smell sometimes, I will now move on to explain what causes these smells, how you can prevent these smells and much more.

Why do cats smell bad?

You may be wondering what actually causes a cat to smell bad, as you now know there are instances where it definitely does smell.

The reality is there are a number of different reasons why your cat could be smelling. For that reason, I’m going to break down a number of different issues that can cause this to happen.

Mouth smells.

cat mouth smells

cat mouth smells

If you notice that your cat has really bad breath this is usually linked to an issue with dental hygiene. Similar to human beings, if there is inflammation in their gums this can cause the gum to not sit against the tooth correctly.

You may wonder what this has got to do with the bad-smelling mouth, but give me a second to explain. This inflammation causes crevices in the gum which allows excess food to gather there.

The food will then decay and cause a really bad smell. This is usually the smell that you can identify as a bad mouth odor.

Male un-neutered cats

As discussed earlier, un-neutered male cats are likely to spray in your house. But why is this happening? Because a male unneutered cat will typically want to spray and mark its territory.

This is so other intruders know not to mess. Weirdly, this smell is not disgusting to cats. However, for humans, it is a really bad smell which is hard to get rid of.

Skin odor

Another issue that causes cats to smell is their actual skin. This is not always that easy to diagnose because their skin is covered by layers of fur.

However, simple parasites, diseases or other ailments can contribute to odors. The smell will elevate beyond the skin and make you believe that the fur is smelling.

Weird Smell in their Ear.

Another common issue is the smell in your cat’s ear. Granted this is not as common as mouth or skin odors but it is a factor that we need to discuss. Let’s be frank, any smell that you notice needs to be discussed and understood, right?

These are orders are usually to do with mites that can collect in the cat ear. These mites look like little raisins that collect around their ear and unleash a really powerful odor.

Smells from behind

When I say “behind”, I mean around their rectal area. These smells can be attributed to a number of different problems.

However, a common issue that is noticed, particularly if you have a long-haired cat, is diarrhea. As you may know, diarrhea makes their bowel movements almost impossible to control.

Therefore, this can end with feces being caught on your cat’s fur. This can then get dried into the fur and leave a really bad smell about the house.

Other related issues can include urinary tract infections which could also lead to bad odor in this area.

How to stop your cat smelling out the house

So, right now we have discussed some of the reasons why your cat may be smelling. However, we haven’t discussed how you can proactively stop these things happening (click here to see how this pine pellet litter box can help to make a better smell in your home).

Therefore, in this section, I will go through a number of different ways that you can use to prevent this smell in your house.

The litter box area.

Smells around the litter box area are quite common. This can be caused by a badly managed box (Click here to see the best cat door to help hide away a stinky litter box). The litter box may not have been cleaned out frequently enough or in some cases, it is just a genuine accident, such as the cat stepping in the mess as it leaves the litter box, are you with me?

Some cat owners use hooded cat litter boxes to get around this issue (Click here to see why I choose this as my best one).

Another technique that can be used, which a lot of cat keepers swear by, is mixing baking soda with the litter to reduce the smell. But, if you use a good scented litter, regardless of it being clay or crystal litter (Click here to see why I rated this one best) it will really help.

However, nothing beats keeping it clean in the first instance to eliminate the chances of the smells. Therefore, you should be cleaning the cat litter box out daily and a follow up with a deeper clean at least two or three times a week.

You need to use some common sense as well. Even though I say a daily clean is enough, if it is unexpectedly full up it is a good idea to clean it anyway, know what I mean? Basically, on an ad-hoc basis as and when it is needed.

If you find that you are not keeping on top of it there are other considerations that may help you This could be as simple as investing in a device that does some of the cleaning for you automatically.

Mess outside of the litter box

In some cases, you may discover that there is some mess outside of the litter box. Sometimes this is down to general mistakes by your cat maybe they are stepped in it and walked it outside of the litter box.

However, there are some instances where this is clearly not an accident and could actually be the result of a medical issue.

If this is the case you need to consult your vet to get your cat checked out because using or pooping outside of the litter box (Click here to see the best clumping cat litter) is not standard practice for cats and cause for alarm.

If we assume it was a genuine accident there are ways to clean this up and to make it smell better. One of them is to use an enzymatic cleaner to clean up some of the mess. Or, if it’s an item that is not of high value you could even consider just throwing the item away.

Cleaning up regularly around the house.

Apart from using direct methods, such as cleaning up the litter box, it is recommended to have a general tidy-up of the house on a regular basis.

In particular, you should vacuum as much as possible. Why? because this will clean up some unseen flecks of dander (Click here to see if hairless cats have this) from your cat and, other small particles of mess which can, in time, contribute to bad smells. You can even consider using baking soda to sprinkle around the carpets and other areas in the house.

Cat grooming.

Another technique that you can use to reduce bad smells is to keep your cat regularly groomed.

Yes, they do naturally groom themselves by licking themselves. However, there are certain instances where they may not be able to clear all of the mess which will need your help.

Grooming their fur and using tools such as de-matting combs (Click here to see my best Dematting Combs) will help to keep them clean and reduce the smell.

Cat air purifiers.

Cat air purifiers (click here to see my best Air Purifiers for cats)  are a very good technique to help to reduce the odor in the air. Apart from purifying the air, they also help to reduce allergens in the air as well as this.

Furnace filters.

Furnace filters are used in many houses and are a magnet for collecting cat fur, dander, and other related matter which will contribute to bad odor.

Therefore, regularly maintaining and changing these filters will help to reduce the odor in your house.

Lindsey Browlingdon

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