smelly cat

Does Your Cat Smell Like Poop? This Could Be The Reason Why

Do you notice a foul, poo-like smell when your feline friend is around? Believe it or not, this is a common issue for cats that can have several causes. In this article, we discuss the most common reasons why cats might smell like poop and what cat owners can do to fix the problem. We also answer some frequently asked questions about cat odour.

Key Takeaways
  • A cat's diet can cause it to smell bad. Feed your cat a high-quality diet that's enhanced as needed with nutriceutical and joint supplements.

  • Poor hygiene can also cause a cat to stink. Make sure your cat cleans itself properly, and bathe it if necessary. Also, use pet wipes to clean the cat's bum and scoop the litter box regularly.

  • Certain medical conditions can lead to odour problems in cats. Contact the vet if you think your cat's smell is due to a medical issue.

Why Does My Cat Smell Like Poo?

There are a number of potential explanations for why a cat smells like poop, including:

Dirty Litter Box

If you notice that your kitty smells like poop, the first thing you should do is check its litter box. If it is full or dirty, this could be the reason for the poop smell. Dirty litter boxes mean your cat is exposed to poop, which may stick to the cat's fur. It's also a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to health problems.

Try scooping out the box more frequently or changing the type of litter you use. A self-cleaning litter box may benefit people who often forget to clean the litter box or don't have the time. If your cat is resistant to using a clean litter box, there may be an underlying health issue at play.

Poor Quality Cat Litter

Another common reason cats might have a poop-like smell is low-quality cat litter. Low-quality litter often performs poorly at absorbing cat urine, loose stool and odours. Odours and residue from the litter box may cling to your cat.

Try switching to a higher quality litter that does a better job soaking up odours and preventing a messy litter box.

Infected Anal Glands

A potential explanation for why your cat smells like poop is an issue with the anal glands. Cats have two anal glands that secrete a foul-smelling substance. If the anal glands become full or infected, they can cause your cat to smell bad.

A veterinarian or professional groomer should perform anal gland expression to release full anal glands.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues are another common reason for an off-putting feline smell. If your cat is having trouble digesting its food, you may notice a poop odour due to runny stool clinging to the cat's fur or flatulence.

Digestive issues can occur for various reasons, including food allergies, parasites and diseases. If you think your cat's digestive issue is the cause of the foul smell, check the cat's litter box to see if it has runny poop and reach out to the vet.

A nutraceutical supplement that promotes better digestion, like in-sideout Cat Formula, may be the perfect solution for digestive disturbances.

Diet Problems

Cats have sensitive stomachs, and a poor diet can cause stomach upset that results in an unpleasant smell. If you feed your cat processed food, it may be time to switch to a more natural diet. However, a sudden change in the type of cat food can also lead to digestive problems, so be cautious with meal adjustments.

Change your cat's food slowly to avoid stomach upset. Start by mixing the new food in with the old food and gradually increasing the amount of new food over time. Also, check the fibre content of your cat's diet. Cats with loose stool may need lower fibre, while constipated cats may need more fibre. See also our article on cat dental health.

Matted Fur

Matted fur can also cause a bad smell. Poop and other debris can get trapped in the mats and create an unpleasant odour. Additionally, matted fur can cause skin irritation and potential infections.

If you notice mats on your cat's coat, try to brush them out with a wide-toothed comb. If the mats are too tight or your cat won't let you brush its coat, contact the groomer or vet for help.


cat with matted fur

Dirty Rear End

Another possible cause for a poop smell is a dirty rear end. If your cat's anus is not clean, the animal may smell like poop. When a cat has diarrhea, the runny poop can soil the fur around its anus, causing a disagreeable smell. See also our article on dogs with diarrhea.

To clean your cat's rear end, use a wet washcloth or cotton ball to clean away any debris. You can also use a pet wipe explicitly designed for this purpose. Pet wipes are available online and over the counter.


Arthritis is a joint condition in older cats that can cause pain and stiffness. If your cat is having difficulty moving around, it may not be able to groom itself properly, leading to a build-up of poop residue and other waste.

If arthritis is the cause of the disagreeable aroma, schedule a visit with the vet clinic. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to relieve arthritis pain. Also, look into supplements developed for cat joint support, like infusion msm.


Constipation is sometimes the reason why your cat smells like poop. When a cat has difficulty passing stool, the feces can back up in its intestines and cause an offensive odour. Furthermore, constipation can make your cat uncomfortable, so it’s hard for the animal to groom itself.

Veterinarians can prescribe medication to relieve constipation and make it easier for your cat to pass stool.

How to Keep Your Cat Smelling Clean

In addition to giving your furry friend a good bath or cleaning the litter box, there are a few long-term solutions to making a cat smell better.

Pet Supplements

Nutraceutical Supplement

The nutraceutical in-sideout Cat Formula features natural ingredients that support and optimise your feline companions’ immune and intestinal health. The holistic supplement includes pre & probiotics and other elements that foster peak fitness, facilitating proper digestion and a healthy coat while reducing flatulence and bad breath.

This supplement supports good stool quality, a major benefit for constipated cats and those with other digestive problems. And with ingredients that ease stress and boost overall health and vitality, it’s a multifunctional supplement that pet owners can feel good about giving their cats on a daily basis.

View in-sideout Cat Formula

Joint Supplements

Older cats--especially those with arthritis--may benefit from a joint supplement. Joint supplements are designed to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, improving mobility and the cat’s ability to keep itself clean. 

Many joint supplements are available for animals, including in-fusion msm and in-fusion ha. The in-fusion ha supplement is designed for horses and dogs, while in-fusion msm supports joint health for cats, dogs and horses.

MSM not only aids in the formation of joint cartilage but also helps increase keratin production, so the in-fusion msm supplement is great for both alleviating joint pain and improving skin and fur health. 

Joint supplements can simply be added to the cat's food, so it's easy for pet parents to integrate this treatment into their daily routine.

FAQs About Cat Smells

Cat owners often have questions about why their cat smells like poop and how to keep their pets smelling clean. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about bad smells.

If a Cat Smells Bad, Should You Bathe It?

Under normal circumstances, pet parents should bathe indoor cats sparingly--only about once a month or every six weeks. However, if your cat is still stinky after cleaning its litter box, changing its food and trying other approaches, like supplements, you may need to give it a good grooming.

Be sure to use a cat-specific shampoo that will not strip the natural oils from its fur. Wet your cat's coat and lather the shampoo into a thick foam before rinsing thoroughly. After the bath, use a towel to dry the cat. Avoid using a hair dryer, as this can be too drying for their fur.

Also, brush the fur to help distribute the natural oils and remove tangles, especially in long-haired cats. If a cat despises water and hates bathing, cat owners can try using dry shampoo instead. 

How Can I Prevent My Cat from Smelling like Poop in the Future?

The best way to prevent a poop smell from recurring is to keep the litter box clean. Scoop the dirty litter box daily and change the litter completely every few days.

Also, feed your cat a high-quality diet and ensure it has access to fresh water at all times to reduce the chances of dehydration or constipation.

Nutraceutical supplements may also be useful in the long term since they offer many health benefits, including the support of a healthy coat and good digestion. And joint supplements are helpful for alleviating arthritic pain to enable self-grooming in senior cats.

My Cat is Old and Smells like Poop. Is This Normal?

As cats age, arthritis and other health conditions can make grooming difficult. Senior cats typically become less able to groom themselves properly if they have stiff joints. Oftentimes, as cats get older, they also have a harder time digesting their food properly.

If your elderly cat smells like poop, it's important to pay close attention and seek a solution. Your cat may need dietary changes, including supplements. By adding digestive enzymes, readily digestible protein and other nutrients to your cat's meals in the form of supplements and senior cat food, you may be able to reduce the odour.

As mentioned above, joint supplements may also ease your cat's grooming difficulties if it has joint pain.

A Clean Environment and a Nutritious Diet Are Key

While there are many reasons why cats may smell like poo, the cause is usually an unclean litter box, dietary issues or digestion problems. If the problem persists after hygiene and lifestyle adjustments, consult a vet to help your cat smell and feel its best.


By Dr. Guangda Xue (Danny), BSc, MRes, PhD

Animal scientist specialised in gut health development and inflammation management

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