Categories: body odor

If your cat does not smell nice something is wrong

Domestic cat body odour is very pleasant. No one can deny it, even trolls and people who dislike cats. This is because cats are fastidiously clean. Let’s not argue about that. Damn it, there is an army of obsessed cat sniffers in China because their cats smell so nice.

Chinese cat sniffer. Photo in public domain.

If a cat’s body odour is unpleasant the reason will be to do with the cat’s health. The cat requires sympathy not criticism if she smells bad. The necessary human response should be to help the cat.


One of the most prevalent feline health problems caused by cat owner neglect is poor oral health. Gum disease is such an insidious health issue because of the food we give them and because we don’t clean their teeth.

Gum disease can cause bad breath. This will give the impression that the cat smells bad. The cat will not smell bad, her mouth will. Oral tumours and rotting foreign material can also smell unpleasant.

Kidney disease can cause bad breath: an ammonia-like odour can emanate from the mouth. And diabetes mellitus can result in a fruity smell from the mouth. Severe liver disease or a blockage in the intestine can make a cat’s breath smell like faeces.

A cat with an intestinal obstruction or peritonitis can vomit faeces. This is bound to smell bad.

A cat smelling bad is about a health problem. This cannot be overstressed.


Skin health problems can also cause a cat to smell less than nice. Yeast infections smell musty. Abscesses result in pus under the skin which can leak and smell. Old age can mean the cat is unable to groom properly. The coat can become unkempt resulting in a less than optimum body odour.

Seborrhea can be either a primary condition or secondary to a skin condition. The oily, scaly form has an unpleasant odour as well as feeling greasy.

Stud tail is like acne and is caused by an oversecretion of the sebaceous glands. The hair becomes matted and smells rancid.


Bacterial and yeast infections can smell. Ear mite infections can lead to bacterial infections. A cat might suffer from an allergic reaction to ear mites. You might see a dark brown waxy discharge looking like coffee grounds from the ear canal. It will be foul smelling. Another reason why a cat might have bad body odour.


You may get a whiff of faeces from a cat who has just emerged from going to the toilet and before she grooms herself. That’s obviously normal. If a cat can’t groom herself she may smell. Once again, it will be due to a health issue (old age perhaps) not an inherent lack of cleanliness.

Long-haired cats such as the Persian can accumulate faeces on their fur at their rear end if they have diarrhoea. Urinary tract infections might cause a smell of urine from the rear end.

Anal glands

These are at the rear end. They can produce a musky smell. In inactivate and overweight cats they can become infected resulting in ‘more persistent odours’ (


To restate the obvious. Domestic cats smell nice. If they don’t something is wrong and it will be linked to health. Please investigate. There is an audio tape of a man who admits to killing cats. He says that cats smell horrible. He is a cat hater. These people do like to denigrate the cat and one option for them is to say that they smell awful. It is very predictable.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • The litter box in your home if cleaned on some regular schedule should NOT emit offensive odors even if the cat does not bury. It's also a good idea when scooping or dumping to at least casually observe the feces.
    As to long hair cats that always seem to have poo on the rear you can give them a sanitary clip or as we do here provide a low sided litter box. Mercy would get her tail under her in the enclosed or the deeper boxes. Giving her a low sided box has eliminated this hassle and it's her poo place of choice.

  • On the contrary. If your cat does smell nice.....

    (Comment has been removed and stored offline. It will be published if and when the author discloses his full name and uploads a genuine photograph of himself. This is because the comment has been made by a troll and trolls have to comply with stringent criteria before being published - Admin)

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