What Is Your Cat’s Odor Trying to Tell You?

cat-odor

Cats are fastidious about keeping themselves clean and it’s rare that a healthy cat emits a bad odor. A healthy cat has no distinguishable smell. If your cat demonstrates a bad odor, this may be an indicator of an illness, and should be cause for concern.

Bad breath

Bad breath in cats is almost always an indicator of a health problem. While some odor, as a reflection of a cat’s normal diet, is to be expected, bad or unusual breath will require a visit to the veterinarian.

A foul odor coming from the cat’s mouth is most likely an indicator of dental disease. It is caused by a build-up of bacteria on the cat’s teeth and gums, which leads to periodontal disease or gingivitis. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

By the time a cat owner notices bad breath, dental disease may already be quite advanced. The inflammation and infection associated with periodontal disease can lead to damage to other organs such as the heart, kidney and liver, and lead to other serious health problems. Dental disease can also be an indicator of immune system disorders.

If your cat’s breath has a fruity odor or smells like nail polish, it may be an indicator of diabetes. Usually, cats with this type of breath will also show increased thirst and urination.

An ammonia-like odor can be an indicator of kidney disease. Also known as uremic breath, this foul smelling breath is the result of an increase in toxin levels as the kidneys become unable to filter waste products.

Foul mouth odor can also be a sign of gastro-intestinal or liver disease.

Bad body odor

While rare in cats and more common in dogs, bad body odor may indicate a skin disease. Even though cats get bacterial yeast infections of the skin and ears, they don’t tend to be as malodorous as they are in dogs. Cats with autoimmune disease may also present with a strange odor, but this, too, is rarer in cats than in dogs.

Bad smell “every now and then”

Some cat guardians may notice an occasional musky or fishy odor. Most likely this is caused by the cat’s anal glands. These two sac-like glands just inside the anus can become full, and a cat may empty the contents in her environment, especially if she becomes excited or fearful.

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This article was previously published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.

8 Comments on What Is Your Cat’s Odor Trying to Tell You?

  1. Sue Brandes
    September 12, 2017 at 4:08 am (1 week ago)

    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  2. Louise K.
    September 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm (1 week ago)

    I had a cat with renal failure, and she developed a slight pungent/musky odor coming from her fur. I found out that this was due to uremic poisoning in her system. She was in an advanced stage of renal failure.

    Reply
  3. Alice
    September 11, 2017 at 11:05 am (1 week ago)

    What about bad smell from kitty’s rectum, even though I can’t see anything obvious? And it’s rather frequent.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2017 at 5:26 am (1 week ago)

      It sounds like it’s probably anal glands, as mentioned at the end of the article, Alice.

      Reply
  4. Jacquelyn Lamson
    September 11, 2017 at 8:49 am (1 week ago)

    Our cat is just over 2 years old and has bad breath. He actually has had it for a while (he was a sickly kitten) and at his last visit the vet said his gums and teeth were starting to show signs of dental disease. I was surprised that this would start at such a young age. I was going to start brushing his teeth (would that help?). He also does have anal gland issues which I have noticed seem to resolve on their own. He’s had 3 bouts now – the most recent was after picking him up from being boarded (which he tolerates but hates). I haven’t noticed a distinct pattern in his anal gland ‘cycle’ but maybe this most recent one was from the stress of being boarded?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 12, 2017 at 5:28 am (1 week ago)

      Brushing your cat’s teeth is the best way to try and prevent dental issues. Unfortunately, some cats seem to be genetically predisposed to dental problems. It’s possible that the stress from boarding caused him to empty his anal glands.

      Reply
  5. Janine
    September 11, 2017 at 8:18 am (1 week ago)

    Thanks for the information

    Reply
  6. Elise
    September 11, 2017 at 3:56 am (1 week ago)

    I didn’t know that about bad body odour or bad smells now and then! Thank you for the information and I will be sure to watch out for the source of any bad smells. So far we’re lucky and haven’t had anything of the sort.

    Reply

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