Why Does Cat Poop Smell So Bad?

If you ever had to clean a kitty litter, chances are you did not have a pleasant experience. It does not help that the litter box is also indoors which make the odor more apparent. Further, diarrhea and cat constipation can worsen the smell. So if you’re not easily upset about this topic, read on to find out what makes cat poop smell foul.

1. Diet

Changes in their diet or sensitivities to certain ingredients in cat food can lead to foul fecal matter. Poor quality cat food and overconsumption of grains can also worsen the smell of cat feces.

2. Digestive Problems

Cats are prone to having problems with their GI tract leading to foul-smelling feces. Mal-digestion of fats, grains, or starches and malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients can cause the stools to smell rancid.

Malabsorption disorders like lactose intolerance and pancreatitis should be treated to get the poop not-so-smelly again.

3. Parasitic or bacterial infection

Parasites can cause malabsorption disorders as well as chronic diarrhea, and upset stomach issues. Certain parasites can produce extremely foul feces even with no diarrhea. Trichomonas, Giardia, and Coccidia are some odorous parasites. Smelly stools can also be a sign of E.coli or Salmonella infection. Bacteria also produce foul gases.

4. Anal Infection

Cats have two anal sacs that can get clogged and infected. Infection in the anal glands can result in runny and smelly poop when drained. The smell tends to linger in the litter box.

5. Medication and hormonal changes

Medications for pain and altering the hormones of a cat can lead to a pungent smell due to changes in their natural chemical equilibrium.

6. Fecal components

Cat poop will always be smelly, but if you can smell it from one to two feet away, that is extreme. What makes cat poop smell so bad is the presence of volatile compounds like ammonia and nitrogen from proteins which are released in the air after defecation.

Japanese research also found that cat feces contain an amino acid called Felinine which decomposes into MMB or mercaptoethanol in the large intestine and emitted in the feces. The volatile compound is also found in cat urine and is thought to be a pheromone used in territory-marking. Short chain fatty-acids and indole add to the smell.


What goes into a cat’s mouth and what occurs inside its gastrointestinal tract all affect the smell of its poop albeit the natural composition of cat feces is foul in itself. There are various ways you can subdue the smell of cat feces. For instance, the Japanese researchers suggested soaking cat feces in water containing ions of metals like copper to stop the poop from emitting odor. Other things you can use to diminish the smell of cat poop include adding more litter in the cat litter box. Your cat cannot dig and bury their feces if there is not enough litter. A larger litter box can also encourage burying of feces. Cats can get constipated or eliminate outside the litter box when it isn’t clean so regular cleaning or purchasing an additional litter box may help.

Avoid placing the litter box in an enclosed area and especially not in the kitchen. The litter box should be kept in a well-ventilated area to keep the odor from staying in the room. Deodorizing litter may also help counter the smells of cat feces.

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