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Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20857
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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why does my cat stink

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Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.

What part of your cat stinks? Mouth, rear end, skin/coat?

How old is your cat?

Does s/he go outside?

Thanks for any additional details so I may send you the most complete answer!

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Jessesmom's Post: It's the skin/coat. Body odor.

Male cat, indoor.

The cat is about 1 year old, and he's had this stink since we adopted him about 6 months ago. At first we thought it was hormones due to the fact that he'd recently been neutered, but we thought it would go away by now.
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.
Hi, and thanks for your helpful, additional information!

You were correct in thinking that hormones may have something to do with this problem, but if it's been 6 mos since he was neutered, I agree that hormones should not be causing this odor at this time. If your cat's skin and coat are normal looking, meaning the skin looks clean and is free of scales, scabs and crusts, his coat appears full, shiny, and has a soft look to it (part his fur and look down to the skin in various areas), that's great! If the skin is abnormal in any way, it will appear thin, dry and scaly or greasy. The coat will appear dull, lusterless or even dusty. It will have no "shine" to it and will have a harsh appearance.

A healthy skin and coat won't have any smell to it, and even when dirty, will smell like whatever is making it dirty. An unhealthy skin and coat will have a rancid, oily odor; the odor is caused by superficial skin bacteria and their waste products breaking down the oils on the skin. Is this how you would describe the 'stinky' odor you're detecting?

All skin surfaces have colonies of bacteria present. But an unhealthy skin surface harbors too many of the wrong kinds of bacteria. It may be necessary to bathe your cat with special medicated shampoo made just for this purpose. The following factors can affect the skin and cause an unhealthy coat or odor: Irritated Skin, Excessive Itching, Scratching & Biting, Flaky Skin,Dry or Oily Coat, Excessive shedding, Odorous skin, Dull or brittle coat, and Allergies.

The single most important determining factor in the healthy skin/coat equation is proper nutrition.

No matter what else may be adversely affecting the skin/coat, such as allergies, infections, harsh environment, or parasites, the problem will be worse in a cat that is only barely meeting its nutrient requirements.

It is found that skin/coat problems are always less severe and occur less often in well nourished pets. Cats are primarily meat eaters. They will act, feel and look their best if fed a diet whose first ingredient listed on the pet food label is MEAT or POULTRY.

Diets that are based on grains such as corn, wheat, gluten, barley, will NOT properly nourish cats.

My first suggestion is to have your cat evaluated by the vet to find out if there are any underlying medical problems or external parasites causing this odor. Renal issues can also often cause a cat's skin to exude a bad odor. After a diagnosis, the vet will recommend the appropriate treatment to help solve any problems.

The second thing I'd determine, is if your cat is being fed a nutritionally balanced diet. Premium quality cat foods like Wellness, Innova, Felidae, Nutro, Newman's Own Organic and Natural Balance which contain meat as the first or within the first few ingredients and don't have any 'fillers' as mentioned above, plus contain no artificial colorings or preservatives, would be the healthiest.

I would also recommend offering only bottled, distilled or purified water for him to drink. This will cut down on the incidence of UTI's (urinary tract infections) and crystals (tiny particles which occur in urine that is not pH balanced--it's not acidic enough.

If you 'think' the odor is from his entire coat, but in fact it IS more from his rear end area, he may need his anal glands expressed (emptied). The anal glands are located on either side of the anus, under the skin, and contain a fluid which is released during each bowel movment. If this fluid is not released as it should be, or becomes thickened (impacted) or infected, the vet has to empty the glands manually, or prescribe an antibiotic, if it is found to be infected. Impacted anal glands can be cleaned out under anesthesia, but sometimes, if the problem is recurring frequently, it is recommended to surgically remove them.

Please bring your cat to the vet to discuss all these possibilities, and I hope the problem is solved very soon!

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