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Why Does My Cat Poop Smell So Bad?

Cat by litter box

Move over cat lovers. Have you noticed your little buddy’s poop smells so nasty all of a sudden, and you are wondering, ‘why does my cat poop smell so bad?’

No worries. You are at the right place and in the safe hands of a fellow ailurophile.

First, we all agree that no poop smells good. Why? The smell is caused by a bacteria found in animals’ digestive tract that helps in breaking down food during digestion. So, your feline friend is not an exception.

Adult cats will usually poop once or twice a day, and kittens, on the other hand, will go multiple times, depending on how you feed them. But whether it’s a full-grown cat or a kitten, they both still can have smelly poop.

6 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Poop Smells So Bad

Your cat’s poop could have an unpleasant smell for various reasons. Let’s have a look:

Cat eating

1. Change of Diet

Smelly poop could be a result of something your cat ate.

Just like us, a stomach upset is also a reliable indication of food intolerance among animals. Your cat may be sensitive to some foods, mostly grains, and foods with high vitamin content.

At times, it could be due to a reaction to certain foods, some food brands, or low-quality cat food.

Too much protein also causes poop to smell bad, which is common among outdoorsy cats that love to hunt for their food. Smelly poop could just mean that maybe your cat has had more than enough protein for the day from preying small reptiles and rodents.

Although rare, some food allergies may also be the reason your cat’s poop smells so bad. Allergies impact proper food digestion hence the smell.

2. Bacterial Infection

Is your cat outdoorsy?

Cats are natural hunters and predators, born for stalking and hunting. Nothing makes them happier than chasing after prey.

If your cat is an outdoor lover and its poop has a nasty smell, it could be because they picked a bacteria from their prey.

Common bacterial infections include Salmonella or E. coli. The bacterial infection may lead to digestive discomfort and inflammation of your cat’s digestive tract. Besides just the smell, pay close attention to changes in poop consistency.  

3. Digestive Disorders

Another common cause of your cat poop smelling so bad is a digestive disorder.

The leading causes of digestive disorders include old age, or your cat eating something that does not agree with their gut.

If you have an elderly cat, you may notice that their poop smells unusually bad. The unpleasant smell could be as a result of poor digestion and poor absorption that sets in overtime. Other common signs to look out for include vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and diarrhea.

Is your cat still young? Digestive problems can also be caused by inappropriate food, swallowing foreign objects, food allergies, or internal parasites. Also, check for vomiting, abdominal pain, or behavior change.

Cat leaving litter box

4. Parasite-related Inflammation

Intestinal parasites, such as Giardia, Coccidia, and Trichomonas, may cause your cat’s poop to smell bad. This is because the parasites cause an upset stomach and gas, and the inflammation can also cause diarrhea.

Furthermore, cats may also pick these parasites while hunting for rats and mice. It is also common to get infected as they interact with other cats that have been infected. Sometimes, kittens get the infection from their mothers.

5. Anal Glands’ Infections

Anal glands are located inside the cat’s anus and contain a liquid with a pungent smell. Sometimes, your cat’s anal gland gets clogged thus does not drain as it should, and this causes the gland to release a smelly discharge. The discharge then covers your cat’s poop, causing that awful smell.

In such cases, you will notice that the nasty smell goes beyond the poop, and the odor lingers wherever the cat goes. In worst cases, you will see pus and blood from your pet’s anus.

Anal infections are painful, so it is important to treat them as soon as possible. Take your cat to a vet so that the anal gland can be examined. Your cat also needs medication for pain relief and antibiotics to help with the swelling and inflammation.

6. Medications

Is your cat under medication? If you notice a sudden change in your cat’s poop when undergoing treatment, it could be a result of the medicine.

Some medications, such as pain relievers and hormonal drugs, cause hormonal changes that may alter your cat’s chemical compound leading to smelly poop.

Other medications, including vitamin and mineral supplements, are also a common cause of smelly poop among cats.

Before giving your cat any medication, it is also wise to research it thoroughly. Check all the ingredients and how they might affect your cat, and avoid any that have components that might harm your pet.

You should also refrain from self-prescribing the medication. It is way easier and safer for you to take a trip to the vet, have them diagnose what could be affecting your cat, and recommend the next steps.

Cat in litter box

What to Do When Your Cat’s Poop Smells So Bad

Now that you are up to speed on why your cat’s poop smells so bad, let’s help you do something about it.

Poop is expected to smell. Hence, you should expect to deal with unpleasant odor once in a while without worrying about your cat. However, if the smell persists, here are a few things that could help you manage the stink:

1. Consider Gradual Diet Change

Food sensitivity is a common cause of smelly poop among cats. Your cat could also be having a hard time digesting or adapting to the new diet. Hence, if the change in the smell of your cat’s poop is concurrent with a diet change, try eliminating some foods as you observe your cat’s reaction until you figure out what the cause of the smell is.

It would be best if you also stuck to high-quality food only. Spend a little more money to ensure your cat’s food contains well-balanced nutrients that promote optimal gut health in your fine feline.

It is also crucial that you avoid mineral and vitamin supplements unless advised by your cat’s vet.

You should also note that raw meat could be what introduced some bacteria into your cat’s body. Hence, it would be best if you were careful to keep your cat from it.

2. Managing Food Allergies

Your vet can help you identify if the cause of your cat’s smelly poop is a food allergy. You could also notice this if the smell is related to a recent change in diet.

The best way to manage a food allergy problem in your cat is to put them on a food trial. Consult with your vet and prepare your cat’s meal without certain ingredients as you observe how they respond. Note the foods that have an adverse reaction and keep your cat away from them.

Cat in carton box

3. Visit a Vet

Smelly poop often disappears by itself.

However, if it is almost a week now or you have tried changing your cat’s diet, and the smell is still there, it is time to go to the vet.

Other changes that could mean you have to take your furry friend to the vet include bloody stool, vomiting, diarrhea, or change in behavior.

A trip to the vet will help you identify whether the smelly poop is caused by more severe issues such as bacterial infection, digestive disorder, or anal gland infection. Your cat could be put under antibiotics to help with any infections. Ensure that you follow the instructions as given.

You should also remember to discuss any medications your cat is on with the vet so that they help you figure out if that is the cause of the foul smell.

4. Parasite Control

It is crucial to keep your cat healthy and free from parasites.

The best way to keep your cat safe from parasite-related inflammation is regular visits to your vet. By diagnosing, preventing, and treating parasites including fleas and worms, your veterinarian will ensure that your cat is healthy.

In some cases, animal parasites transmit human diseases to humans. Hence, you should be sure to keep a healthy pet for the safety of you and your family.

The best ways to proactively keep your cat parasite-free include:

  • An annual examination by the vet
  • Periodic heartworm tests
  • Ensure your cat has access to fresh and drinkable water
  • Avoid raw meat. Provide your cat prepared or cooked food
  • Conduct routine fecal examination for your cat depending on their age and health
  • Preventive treatment
  • Deworm both the mother and the kitten

5. Keep Your Cat Indoors

Cats love being outdoors, hunting, and chasing. However, you might be forced to keep them indoors, especially if the cause of the smelly poop is from a parasite or bacteria they picked while outside.

Keeping them indoors prevents them from preying on unhealthy animals. Restricting them will also keep them from interacting with other infected cats that could pass on the disease.

Cat in plastic bucket

6. Keep the Litter Box Clean

Sometimes, a nasty lingering smell from your cat’s poop could be from your cat’s litter box. Keeping the litter box clean at all times will help minimize the smell, keep your cat’s health in check and improve your home environment.

Furthermore, litter boxes can be a health hazard caused by a buildup of ammonia fumes from your cat’s urine and feces. The fumes can cause respiratory issues in humans. Hence, it is advisable to maintain a clean litter for you and your family’s health too.

The frequency for emptying and cleaning the litter box will depend on various factors, such as the type of litter in use. If you use clumping litter, you only have to scoop and replace the litter regularly. However, non-clumping litter requires that you empty and clean more often to avoid urine from collecting under the box, causing a strong, pungent smell.

Tips on cleaning the litter box

Remove poop from the litter box daily or as often as you can using a scoop and gloves. Dispose of the poop outside in a sealed bag and clean the litter box and its surrounding with unscented dish soap and warm water. You should also empty the litter box weekly, clean it and fill it with fresh litter. A bleach solution could also come in handy to help get rid of odor-causing bacteria on the litter box surrounding.

Natural litters such as paper, clay, corn, and sawdust tend to hold on to smell. Using them may still leave some poop smell, even after cleaning the litter box, which worsens with time. If you use unscented litter, you should also consider odor-absorbing additives such as baking soda and carbon. Alternatively, use a scented litter.  

Use a Proper Litter Box

Smelly or not, your cat’s poop smell will cover your entire house if it is not covered up or if the cat poops outside its litter box.

Ensure that the litter box is not too high so that your cat can comfortably access it when they need to. Furthermore, make it easy for your cat to cover its poop by using litter material that your cat will easily overturn without hurting its paws.


Your cat’s poop gives you a clue on the animal’s general health status. Smelly poop might mean different things, and it doesn’t have to be a cause of worry.

The solution could be as simple as changing the litter more often or training your cat to use the litter box properly. At times, you will have to give it time, and the smell will disappear by itself. However, the solution may need drastic measures such as a vet’s intervention in some cases.

Whichever the case, we hope our guide has helped answer your question, ‘why does my cat poop smell so bad?’ and offered you tips on what you can do about it.

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