If you were a fan of the ‘90s sitcom, Friends, you’re probably chuckling a little inside after reading the title of this week’s post. As I was writing the post that little tune kept running through my head.
In spite of the funny reference, this is really a serious topic.
Cat owners know one of the many benefits of cat ownership is they rarely smell.
Cats are fastidious groomers. They use their sandpaper tongues to keep themselves clean and generally unsmelly.
If your cat has an odor, there’s something going on. And that something can be serious. Don’t ignore it. See your vet for a diagnosis and the proper treatment.
If you’re trying to decipher your cat’s aroma so your doc has good information, the odor is coming from one of four places; its mouth, its ears, its rear-end or its skin.
Unlike dog breath, cat breath is not usually unpleasant. If you get close to your cat’s mouth, and it smells bad, a few things could be at play.
Your cat may suffer from dental disease. This is a particular problem as cats age. Plaque and tartar accumulate on the teeth. This can cause inflamed gums that separate from the teeth. Food can get lodged in the gaps. And that food can rot and smell bad. It can also cause a stinky bacterial infection.
Loose teeth can cause the same problem by creating gaps between the gums and the teeth.
A foreign object lodged in the mouth, trauma to the mouth, and oral tumors can all cause mouth odor.
Stomatitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the mouth and gums, and can cause ulcers. This can lead to bad breath too.
If your cat’s mouth smells like poop, they may have an intestinal obstruction or liver disease. If it smells like urine that’s a sign of kidney disease.
Diabetes can make your cat’s breath sweet or fruity smelling. But as the disease progresses, the stench may be more nail polish-like, if you can believe that.
If your cat’s mouth smells unusual in any way, see your vet. These conditions can be serious and painful for your cat. Early treatment can lessen the effects of these afflictions.
When you get your face in there to give your kitty a kiss on the top of their head, it shouldn’t be stinky.
If your cat’s ears smell, they may be infected . Yeast is often the cause and will have a musty scent. You may also notice a discharge.
An infection often comes from an underlying problem like allergies, ear mites, an object stuck in the ear, and sometimes tumors. You must get to the underlying problem to get to the right treatment. Your vet will figure out the best course of action.
And if you’re uncertain what ear mites are, they look like coffee grounds in your cat’s ear. An infestation can have a foul odor.
Because cats are such diligent groomers, it’s rare to get a whiff of poop or pee. If suddenly you do, there could be matted poopin their fur or they could have a urinary tract infection. This can be especially problematic with long hair cats.
Or maybe your cat is not grooming themselves. If your cat is sick, overweight or in pain this can happen. It’s just too difficult for them. If you know they suffer from a condition that makes grooming hard, you may need to step in and help by cleaning their rear-end and bathing them regularly. Especially if they have diarrhea or soft stool.
If your cat has always been a fastidious groomer andsuddenly stops cleaning themselves, see the vet. They’re telling you something.
Anal glands are another rear-end problem. Their purpose is to mark territory with their excretions. And when your healthy cat is excited or scared, the anal glands may excrete this smelly fluid.
Unlike dogs’ anal glands, cats will rarely have a problem with theirs. But, it can happen… and it’s pretty stinky. They can develop the rare infection or possibly a tumor.
The glands can also become inflamed causing the opening to the gland ducts to become blocked. The fluid in the glands will not drain properly. This can smell.
Cats can have overactive anal glands that secrete more than they should. This can also cause an odor.
Any concern about secretions from the hindquarters warrants a trip to the vet.
If you can’t locate the specific location the odor is coming from, it’s possible your cat has stopped grooming himself. As I mentioned before, a sick cat or one who is overweight or in pain may stop grooming. If so, their coat will look greasy and unkempt. And they will just be generally smelly.
This is a sign of an underlying health problem. Talk to your vet to get a proper diagnosis.
Another cause of skin odor is infection, either bacterial or yeast. Infections can be caused by trauma to the skin. They can also be caused by an allergy that leads to scratching.
If your kitty is an outdoor cat, or spends any time outside, you should check them regularly for bite wounds. When cats fight, their wounds can turn into abscesses that swell with pus. If they burst, they stink.
A wound can turn into an abscess in 24 hours. So run your hands over your cat every time they come in from outside. When cats fight they usually bite the base of the tail, the legs, the face and neck, and along the back. If you touch these spots and your cat flinches, inspect the area.
Once the wound becomes abscessed, your cat will be lethargic and may not eat. They’ll flinch when touched because an abscess is very painful.
See the vet before the abscess gets so severe it requires surgery.
Because cats generally smell good, a bad smell is a sign of trouble. Heed the warning and get the help of your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Has your cat been smelly? What was the diagnosis? Share your experience in the comment section at the top. You might help someone else.