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June 15, 2022 |0 min read

Why Does My Cat’s Poop Smell So Bad? 7 Causes and Solutions

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Cats are such lifesavers. Sometimes all you need is a little guy to follow you around and sit on your lap (or keyboard) the first chance they get – or ignore you all day until it's time to eat if yours is like mine. That is why we, cat owners, should always be alert for any signs that something might be up with our furry friends.

One such sign you should keep an eye on is the smell of their poop. For a healthy cat, it should be mild and barely noticeable. But if it's smelly enough to ask yourself, "why does my cat's poop smell so bad?" something is up. Here is what it could mean and what action you should take.

Diet

Just like us, cats are sensitive to certain foods or specific ingredients found in some foods. For instance, your cat might be sensitive to foods with high vitamin content or grains. Some cat foods also contain lots of fillers, making them hard to digest, which could lead to smelly cat poop.

Cats are natural hunters, and when you are looking, they could hunt and eat bugs, rodents, and small reptiles, just to mention a few. Even though they are carnivores, these protein-rich foods could cause a bad odor.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by Diet and What Should You Do?

Your cat's foul smelling stool is caused by diet if:

You Have Recently Introduced a New Food into Their Diet

The solution is to remove it from the diet and feed them cat food without grains and vitamins or go for higher-quality cat food. Also, if you have introduced the food suddenly, you can solve it by switching it slowly. Start giving it in small portions and gradually increase them for, say, ten days.

You Have Reason to Think They Were Out Hunting

If they don't eat as much as usual, come home with bloodstains, or you notice any other sign of eating out in the wild before the smelly poo, the only solution is to wait it out.

Bacteria

Cats have a naturally high-prey drive and will often hunt rodents, birds, and other small animals to eat, especially if they spend time outdoors.

Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, and it is easy to dismiss it by saying, "but my cat has been hunting and eating them for years and has never had a problem. But the problem is not about eating the prey, it is about what the prey is carrying.

If they eat prey that is not healthy, for example, one that is infected with salmonella or E.coli bacteria, it could manifest as very foul-smelling feces.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by Bacterial Infection and What Should You Do?

If your cat has been infected with bacteria, chances are, you saw other signs. If you hadn't, or they hadn't manifested yet, you should be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose and eyes

If your furry friend has some of these signs, then you need to immediately have them checked out by a veterinarian. Advanced cases of bacterial infection are life-threatening.

Parasites

Intestinal parasites are a common cause of smelly stool of all cat ages, from kittens to adults. An intestinal parasite can be caught in several ways, but kittens mostly get them from their mother, and adults get them from other infected cats, fleas, or hunting and eating infected rodents.

Worm eggs, once inside the cat, move to the intestines and start hatching and reproducing. If left untreated, they can be fatal. The most common parasites in cats are Giardia, Coccidia, and Trichomonas, and they all cause foul-smelling cat feces.

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How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by a Parasitic Infection and What Should You Do?

It can be difficult to be sure your cat has been infected by parasites before the signs show, and they usually take between five and sixteen days. But once the smelly poo starts, you can tell they have been infected by parasites as it is accompanied by"

  • Weight loss despite normal or increased food intake.
  • Anorexia.
  • Poor hair coat.
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Scratching of the ears.
  • Dirty ears.
  • Red, irritated skin.
  • Itchy, scratchy skin.

To help them get better, consult a veterinary doctor who will use antibiotics, among other interventions, to treat your friend. Treatment takes anywhere from two weeks to be effective.

Medications and Supplements

Some cat medication may alter normal gut bacteria, or disrupt your cat's natural chemical balance by affecting the hormones. For instance, antibiotics are known to alter digestive bacteria. For the period the cat is using the medication, it could have foul-smelling poop.

Vitamin supplements may also cause your cat's poop to smell.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by Medication and What Should You Do?

If your cat is under medication, and the smelly poop problems started right around the time they went under medications, it is most likely the culprit. The same goes for supplements: if the smell started around the time you started supplementing vitamins, it is most likely the reason.

Although it doesn't necessarily show that something is wrong, if you believe the medication is causing the smelly feces, don't ignore it, thinking, "It'll pass. It's for his/her good."

You can't be sure the medication isn't causing any more damage apart from making the poo smelly. Unless your vet explicitly implied that it could cause smelly poo, it would be best if you consulted them. They may solve it by swapping the medication with another that isn't so problematic, or instruct you on what to do.

If you are giving them supplements, you should stop immediately. Most high-quality cat foods have well-balanced diets, so you don't have to supplement anything.

Anal Gland Infections

Cats and dogs have anal glands on the sides of the inside of the anus, which are full of strong-smelling liquid. If they become infected, the liquid could take on a very strong foul smell, making the cat poop very smelly. There are a variety of reasons that can lead to anal gland infections.

If they become clogged and develop an abscess, you will notice traces of blood and pus on the smelly poop or your cat's rear.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by Anal Gland Infection and What Should You Do?

Every time a cat with an anal gland infection poops, they are in pain, so this is not something you should sit on. You should immediately seek out a vet if you notice the following signs:

  • Scooting or dragging the anal area along the ground.
  • Excessive licking under the tail.
  • Pain in the area of the anus.
  • A swollen area on either side of the anus.
  • Bloody or sticky discharges on either side of the anus.

Your vet will open and drain the abscess in the glands, flush and clean out the infected area, and may place a drain to allow drainage from the wound until they are healed.

Digestive Disorders

Even without specific allergies or food intolerances, some cats have very sensitive stomachs. Sensitivity can lead to diarrhea or very sticky poop in cats.

Apart from sensitivity, some medical conditions, like mal-digestion and mal-absorption, can cause your cat to have issues digesting food or absorbing nutrients. These issues can develop over time or attack your cat due to age. If their digestive system cannot absorb starches or fats, it can result in rancid-smelling poop.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by Digestive Disorders and What Should You Do?

You can tell that your cat has digestive disorders if, apart from smelly poop, they have the following signs:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Decreased appetite or anorexia.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fever.
  • Dehydration.
  • Abdominal pain

If they have any of the above signs, it is time for a trip to the vet's office. They will run tests to identify the actual cause of the disorder. If they believe it is being caused by a sensitive stomach, ask them to recommend the best foods for your furry friend. If they find any other cause, they will deal with it appropriately.

Litter Choice

Sometimes smelly poo doesn't mean that something is up with your cat. It could be pointing to problems with their toilet. There are several types of litter, such as clumping and non-clumping litter, and some are better at absorbing the smell than others. If you are sure it's empty and not yet time to change your litter, the only reason is its quality.

How Do You Know if the Smelly Poo Is Being Caused by a Poor Litter Choice and What Should You Do?

If the litter your cat uses wasn't specifically labeled as unscented or odor-controlling, consider switching to a different litter brand. If it was, you can test its quality by buying a higher-quality litter and testing it out on your friend. Consider non clumping vs clumping cat litter, and any other variables that would impact when to change cat litter. If the foul odor reduces or stops, the quality of litter is the problem.

However, it would be best if you resorted to this as your last option. It takes time to test and could effectively mask the smell instead of treating its underlying cause.

Conclusion

Smelly cat poo could mean several things. Some of them are mild and don't have any effect on your cat, such as a poor cat litter choice, while some are serious and can be fatal, or at the very least uncomfortable, such as anal gland infections.

Learn more on how to choose cat litter or speak to your Veterinarianon on different types of cat litter that is best for your cat’s needs.

To avoid the poop smell and still be able to detect any signs of illness, it would be best if you invested in a health monitoring litter, such as PrettyLitter. This silica cat litter traps odors and instantly eliminates moisture.

But the best part about PrettyLitter is that it changes color to tell you when your cat has a potential health issue, so you can get them help before it becomes an urgent medical situation. It will save you money in hefty medical bills, and save your cat's life.

Keep your cat safe and upgrade your litter today.

Sources:

Pet MD. What Should My Cat's Poop Look Like? https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/what-should-my-cats-poop-look

Meowtel. What Your Cat's Poop is Telling You. https://meowtel.com/blog/post/what-your-cats-poop-is-telling-you

Pet Perrenials. Why Does My Cat's Poop Smell So Bad? Causes And Remedies. https://petperennials.com/blogs/news/cat-sympathy-cards

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

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