Why Does My Cat Stink? What Owners Need to Know


Have you noticed a foul smell coming from your pet? Your first instinct to find out ‘why does my cat stink’ is probably to have them checked out by a professional.

We all want a cat that smells good, and, often, it is an easy fix at home, ranging from simply bathing them or just changing their diet. Of course, the solution isn’t always as easy as this, as a bad smell can be a symptom of a more severe problem. 

Thankfully, this guide exists to help you pinpoint the exact reason for their sudden stench.

So, if you’re ready to find out ‘why does my cat smell?’ keep reading to learn whether to rush to the vet or the pet groomer.

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Why Does My Cat Smell Bad? | Top Reasons Your Cat Stinks

You may be wondering, ‘why does my cat smell bad all of a sudden?’ These are the most common reasons. Luckily, they are typically relatively easy to treat.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is normal in your pets, but it’s time for a deeper look if the smell persists.

Dental Disease

Typically, there are two feline dental diseases – gingivitis and feline stomatitis. Gingivitis is usually caused by plaque building up on teeth. Cats need their teeth brushed thrice a week, so getting a toothbrush like this one can help prevent any dental disease.

On the other hand, feline stomatitis is a chronic disease and isn’t as easy to treat at home. Your pet will need antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to ease their pain.


Photo by Paweł Adamczak janusze_zycia on Unsplash


Sometimes the solution to that bad cat smell is just to change their diet. Wet and soft food tends to get stuck between their teeth, which can eventually cause a foul odor. Try switching your cat or kitten to dry food and see if this helps.

Skin Odor

Cats look after their coats very well, but sometimes they need a little help from their friends to keep their skin in tip-top shape. Here are a few things that may be causing a skin odor.

Open Wound

An open wound on your pet’s skin can become exposed to many bacteria — especially if they’re an outside cat. Typically, if you notice your cat licking or biting a spot on their body, it might indicate a wound. The best you can do is clean it with mild salt water and bandage it so your cat doesn’t touch it.


Cats clean themselves often and in different ways. You may have seen your cat roll in the dirt now and then for a dirt bath and rise up with very dusty fur. So, dirt is normal, but if you notice your cat’s fur smells bad, it might be an underlying problem like a yeast infection or parasites. Your pet is 

To be sure, you can wash your cat with a gentle shampoo like this one. If the smell persists, you can visit a vet for an informed evaluation.


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Ear Odors

If you notice my cat smells bad, their ears may not be the first place you’d think to look at. But, a build-up of earwax and ear mites may cause an unfamiliar and unpleasant smell. Here are a few reasons your cat’s ears may be smelly

Ear Infection

There are a few reasons for ear infections, but one of the more common ones is simply due to allergies. These can be due to their food, dust, pollen, or the environment. Often, ear mites can also cause an allergic reaction.

If you notice a black or brown discharge from your pet’s ears, it may be due to a yeast infection. As you can imagine, this has a yeasty smell and is treatable with the proper medication prescribed by your vet. 

Human hands cleaning ears of a cat with cotton buds why does my cat stink

Ear Mites

It is almost certainly ear mites if you notice black flecks near your pet’s ears. These critters can cause itchiness, inflamed or hot ears, and if left untreated, even deafness. You can try applying baby oil or using Q-tips to clean away these pests. But, if you notice excess ear wax buildup or discharge, you should visit the vet.

Litterbox Issues

If, after all of these reasons, you still think, ‘my cat stinks,’ there may be one more area to check — the litterbox. Not only is it where your pet does its business, but it also gives you good insight into its internal business. Let’s have a look.


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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Typically, feline UTIs don’t cause a big smell, but if left untreated, they can make their presence known. You may notice symptoms like frequent urination, discomfort while urinating, or a pinkish color in their urine – usually due to blood. Your pet’s urine may also have a slightly fishy smell. 

To help, you can try to increase their water intake. But, if that fails, a vet is your best bet.

Anal Gland Secretion

Cats have two anal glands that help them mark their territory with a strong-smelling liquid. But these glands can become clogged or infected. If your cat has Anal Gland Secretion issues, you may notice them scooting their behind on the ground or experiencing constipation or some swelling.

The only way to help your pet, in this case, is by taking them to the vet.


Do cats stink when they have stomach issues? Sometimes. 

It’s no surprise that your pet will have a smelly behind when they’re sick. This may occur due to fecal matter sticking to their fur or a lack of fresh litter in their box. Either way, they’ll need your help to treat the cause and to keep them fresh.


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Final Thoughts on Why My Cat Suddenly Smells Bad

No one wants a stinky roommate, so it can be unpleasant when your cat smells bad. It’s not only disruptive to your nose, but it may also be a symptom of a more significant issue that could cause your pet pain.

If you notice unusual cat odors, it is a prompt for further investigation. Usually, it’s something as harmless as your cat stepping in or playing with something nasty. But, if it needs a deeper look, you can never go wrong with a trip to the vet.

This might be the difference between life-altering and lifesaving.

This article on why does my cat stink may contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. Just wanted to let you know.

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