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8 Common Reasons Cat Poop Smells Bad

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Cats are known for their cleanliness.

So when cat poop smells bad, there may be something wrong.

It can be a sign of a health problem or a dietary issue.

So it’s critical to figure out the cause of the smell and take steps to fix the problem.

This guide will explore eight common reasons cat poop smells bad and what you can do to make it less smelly.

You will also learn about what a normal cat stool should look and smell like and whether the smell of cat poop is harmful to humans.

What Is a Normal Cat Stool Like?

Normal cat poop is usually dark brown or brown and shaped like a sausage.

It has a firm consistency but isn’t too firm and leaves little to no residue when you scoop it up.

There also shouldn’t be any:

  • Blood
  • Mucus
  • A strong odor

 However, a slight odor isn’t a cause for concern.

Should Cat Poop Be Stinky?

While a certain amount of odor is normal, if the feces smells bad, it could be a sign of a problem.

When a stool is stinky, it’s important to check for other changes that might mean a health problem.

Is the Smell of Cat Poop Harmful to Humans?

Cat poop can contain harmful bacteria that can cause sickness in humans, but the risk of exposure is extremely low for people who regularly clean up after their cats.

Exposure to large amounts of cat poop may cause problems, but this is only likely to occur in situations with many cats and poor hygiene practices.

Why Does Your Cat’s Poop Smell So Bad?

There are many reasons your cat’s poop might smell bad.

Diet issues, digestive problems, and dirty litter boxes are some of the most common causes.

Medications, bacteria, or parasites can also cause changes in stool odor.

Below are eight common reasons cat poop smells bad.

Diet Issues

A poor diet is one of the most common reasons for bad-smelling cat poop.

If your cat isn’t getting enough of the right nutrients, it can lead to problems with digestion and stool quality.

Cats that eat mostly dry food may be more prone to diet-related issues since they’re not getting enough moisture.

It can cause the feces to harden, making it difficult to pass, leading to constipation and a foul odor.

Dietary problems can also cause diarrhea, making the stool smell worse.

If your cat’s diet is the culprit, you may notice other changes like weight loss, poor coat condition, and lack of energy.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance or allergy can also cause problems with digestion and lead to bad-smelling stool.

If your cat is intolerant or allergic to something in its diet, it can cause digestive upset and make the feces smell bad.

There are many potential causes of food allergies or intolerances in cats, so it’s critical to work with your veterinarian to identify the problem.

Digestive Issues

Digestive problems are another common reason for bad-smelling stool.

If your cat has a condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it can cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • A bad odor

IBD is a serious condition that requires veterinary treatment.

Blockages and intestinal parasites like coccidiosis can also cause bad-smelling stools.

If you suspect your cat has a digestive issue, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Dirty Litter Box

Feces left in the litter box for too long can decompose and create a foul odor.

It’s important to scoop the box daily and change the litter completely at least once a week.

If you have multiple cats, you may need to scoop and change the litter more frequently.

A self-cleaning litter box can also help to keep the area clean and reduce odor.

Poor Quality Litter

Poor quality litter can absorb odors and make them stronger.

Clumping litters are the best at odor control since they form tight clumps you can easily remove.

Non-clumping litters are less effective at odor control since the urine and feces can soak into the litter and create a strong smell.

If you’re using non-clumping litter, you’ll need to change it more frequently to help control odor.


Certain medications can cause changes in stool odor.

If your cat takes antibiotics, it can kill the beneficial bacteria in the gut and lead to digestive problems.

When the good bacteria are gone, harmful bacteria can grow and make the stool smell.

Other medications like steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also cause changes in stool odor.

These drugs can upset the stomach and intestines, leading to diarrhea and bad-smelling stool.

Some supplements can also cause changes in stool odor, so talk to your vet before giving your cat any new supplements or if you notice a difference in your cat’s stool after starting a new medication.

Bacteria or Parasites

Conditions like salmonella or campylobacteriosis can cause diarrhea and unpleasant odor.

Contaminated food or water is the most common way cats develop these infections.

Intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms can also cause bad-smelling stool.

Cats usually get these parasites by eating prey or soil that is contaminated.

Veterinary treatment is necessary if your cat has intestinal parasites.

Anal Gland Infection

Anal gland infections are another common cause of bad-smelling stool.

The anal glands are two small sacs on either side of the anus that produce a foul-smelling secretion used to mark territory.

When the glands become infected, they can leak or rupture and cause a bad odor.

Anal gland infections often require veterinary treatment because they can become serious quickly.

Your vet may need to express the glands or prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.

How To Make Your Cat’s Poop Less Smelly

If your cat’s poop smells bad, you can do a few things to make it less stinky.

Address Underlying Issues

If your cat has a medical condition causing the bad odor, it’s important to treat the underlying issue.

Intestinal parasites, digestive problems, and anal gland infections all require veterinary care.

If your cat has a food allergy or intolerance, changing their diet can help.

Clean Litter Box

A dirty litter box is one of the most common reasons for bad-smelling cat poop.

Be sure to scoop at least once a day and change out the entire contents of the box at least once a month.

You may need to clean the box more often if you have multiple cats.

Contact the Vet

If you have tried all the above and your cat’s poop still smells bad, it’s time to contact your veterinarian.

There could be an underlying medical condition causing the odor, such as a digestive problem, intestinal parasites, or an anal gland infection.

Your vet can help you determine the cause of the bad odor and develop a treatment plan.

In the meantime, continue to clean the litter box regularly and feed your cat a balanced diet.

Wrapping Up

If your cat’s poop smells bad, you can do a few things to make it less stinky.

Address underlying issues, clean the litter box regularly, and contact your veterinarian if the problem persists.

These simple steps can help make your cat’s poop less smelly and keep them healthy and happy.

Have you experienced bad-smelling cat poop?

What did you do to resolve the issue?

Let us know in the comments below!

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