Categories: ownership

“Stink and smell of cats” puts off a homebuyer

The Sun newspaper provides us with some insights, from the online lettings portal Mashroom, on the subject of how to present your home to a potential tenant or purchaser. There were 2,000 participants in their survey. Shockingly, they concluded that half of British citizens have described property viewing as “disgusting”. The reason for this harsh assessment is the “stink and smell of cats”, dirty dishes and filthy carpets. Note that the smell of dogs is not mentioned!

Home buyers put off by smell of cats. Does this mean the smell of ammonia? Picture in the public domain.

I can understand that a cluttered and messy home is a huge put off to a buyer or tenant. In fact, a landlord or a seller of a property should tidy up their home at least to a reasonable extent before even considering presenting it to a viewer. It surprises me that viewers have encountered homes which are so bad in terms of mess.

However, I am perturbed to see that the smell of cats is listed as one of the reasons why buyers and tenants are put off. I am racking my brains to try and find out where this conclusion comes from because domestic cats themselves smell great.

I think we have to be referring to homes in which there are several cats and in which the owner of the cats is careless and sloppy. It must be the case that the litter boxes are not cleaned regularly or one of the cats is stressed and has urinated on the carpet. It may be that they are referring to a home in which there are more than several cats in which case there could be a sort of chaos and a lot of mess. All of which can be created by domestic cats if they are badly cared for.

It is hard to imagine a home in which there is one domestic cat who is well cared for causing a problem with a buyer or renter. I would argue that a single or a couple of cats in a home which is well presented and tidy should sell better because of the cats. They create a homely atmosphere. It was John Cocteau, I recall, who said that a cat gives a home a soul.

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
― Jean Cocteau

It would seem, however, that the average purchaser is less concerned about the refinements of cat ownership and the fact that they give a home something extra but are more concerned about the basics such as whether it has a big and glamorous kitchen. And whether the tiles are all shiny and white. It is disappointing but perhaps the blame lies at the feet of cat owners.

I can remember a house in California, America owned by a property developer, Peter Cohen. He had at least 15 cats and 22 litter trays in a picture perfect home with no smell and no sign of the litter trays as I recall. You just saw the cats adorning the interior of this splendid home. Therefore it is possible to have a large number of cats in a really nice home and have no smell!

Returning to my original point, it is down to a lack of optimal care at best and at worst sloppy caretaking on behalf of cat owners who were selling or renting out their home as part of this survey.

It is certainly very hard, however, to create a relaxed atmosphere in which the cats are content in a home where they are permanently confined to it and in which there are too many cats e.g. 10 cats. This is because stresses can be built up and stressed cats are prone to pee in areas where they are not meant to, which can be difficult to clean up. In addition if the owner fails to cope properly you have that well-known ammonia smell. This might be the smell that the participants in the survey are referring to.

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.

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