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My Cat Smells Like Poop: 5 Potential Reasons & Solutions

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ, Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There is almost nothing better than your daily cuddle with your feline friend. One of the big draws of owning a cat is their cleanliness — a trait that cats are known for — but sometimes, you may detect a bad smell coming from your feline, like that of poop.

Considering that cats are so fastidious about self-grooming, if your cat suddenly smells like poop, there is a reason for concern. While it is rare that there is something serious at hand, it is still an issue that you’ll want to solve as quickly as possible, both for your and your cat’s sake!

In this article, we take a look at five common reasons that your feline may smell like poop and what you can do to fix it!

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1. Dirty litter

Cleaning cat litter box
Image Credit: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

Litter-box maintenance is as important as any other part of your cat’s maintenance needs, but even with a clean and well-looked-after litter box, your cat may still end up smelling like poop. Some cats, especially kittens, may play inside their litter box, inadvertently spreading feces all over their fur. Additionally, cats instinctually like to cover their poo with litter or sand, and in the process, they may get their fur-coated in poop. This is especially common in long-haired cats like Persians.

The solution to this problem is fairly simple: You may want to try a self-cleaning, automatic litter box. These litter boxes negate the mess caused by cats attempting to bury their poop and are largely cleaner than traditional boxes. These litter boxes can be expensive, though, and if the price is too high for you, changing to a high-quality litter may also solve the issue.

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2. Dirty cat

dirty cat
Image Credit: Marinka Buronka, Shutterstock

While cats are obsessive self-groomers, poop can still get stuck and harden on their coat, especially long-haired breeds. This could be caused by runny poop, and if you notice this hardened poop around your cat’s rear end, there could be a digestive issue. Additionally, cats that are overweight or having health issues like arthritis may not be able to properly reach parts of their body and adequately groom themselves.

If your cat has matted fur around their rear end, you may need to trim carefully around the area and remove any matted fur. It’s also a great idea to keep the area trimmed to prevent matting later. This will help with overweight or ill cats, but of course, the health issue should still be diagnosed and treated by a vet.

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3. Change of diet

Wet vs Dry Cat Food_shutterstock_Lightspruch
Image Credit By: Lightspruch, shutterstock

Cats are obligate carnivores and require a specific diet in order to stay healthy and happy. A poor diet consisting of too many grains, vegetables, and fruits may cause loose stool or diarrhea. Additionally, a sudden change of diet can cause these symptoms too, leading to runny poo stuck in your cat’s fur.

Feed your feline the best quality food that you can afford, and be sure that it is filled with animal-sourced proteins from fish, beef, and chicken. If you are switching your cat’s regular food to another brand, make the transition slowly over several days to avoid too much of a digestive reaction.

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4. Digestive issues

Digestive issues may also cause diarrhea or runny poop that may get caught on your cat’s fur, but they can cause gas too. If your cat smells like poop but you cannot visibly notice any on their fur, it may just be gas that you’re smelling. Digestive issues can be from a sudden change in diet or other causes, including:

  • Diary
  • Grains like wheat, soy, and corn
  • Spoiled foods
  • Allergies
  • Hairballs
  • Gastrointestinal obstructions

Foods with loads of fiber may also be the cause, so check the ingredient list on your cat’s food to make sure it doesn’t contain huge amounts. Avoid giving your cat dairy products and large amounts of grains, and make sure to avoid any spoiled foods. If all this is in order, they may have an allergy that you’ll need a vet to help diagnose or find via an elimination diet.

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5. Anal Glands Issues

Cats can be prone to anal gland issues, and if their food and litter box are all in order, this could also be the cause of your cat’s foul odor. These scent glands are usually expressed during defecation and territory marking and have a powerful poop-like smell. If their anal gland gets clogged they can develop an infection, they may start leaking or form an abscess, both of which can result in a poop-like smell.

If you notice your cat having trouble doing their business and they are showing any signs of discomfort by constantly licking the area, there may be an anal gland issue, and you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

How to eliminate the smell

Chances are fairly low that your cat is suffering from an anal infection, so the smell is most likely coming from matted fur or a messy litter box. In this case, a bath is the first order of business! Check your cat’s fur for any traces of poop that may be stuck, and check their litter box for signs of diarrhea. If your cat’s stool is normal, you’ll probably just need to switch to a self-cleaning litterbox or high-quality litter and to keep the area around their rear end short and trimmed. If you’ve eliminated all these factors and the problem still persists, you should make a trip to the vet for further investigation.

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Final thoughts

If your cat suddenly smells like poop, there is usually no reason to panic. The cause and solution are usually simple, and after a good bath, your cat will be smelling fresh again in no time! If your cat’s diet and litter box are normal and unchanged, though, there may be a more serious issue at hand, but this is fairly rare.

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Featured Image Credit: Jihan Nafiaa Zahri, Shutterstock

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