funny picture of cat in a b bathtub holding shower gel and a brush with a rubber ducky

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A balanced diet, regular grooming, and using cat-friendly products can help reduce unpleasant odors. If bathing isn’t feasible, waterless shampoos or cat wipes are great alternatives. Regular vet check-ups are crucial for the early detection of any health problems contributing to bad smells.

Cats are clean creatures. They spend hours each day grooming their fur. But sometimes, cat owners notice a scent that’s not so pleasant.

The key is finding the balance between a healthy cat smell and odors that might signal a problem. In this guide, we’ll explore why your cat might smell bad and ways to make your cat smell good, even without a bath.

Why Does My Cat Smell Bad?

Poor Diet

Diet plays a significant role in how your cat smells. Low-quality cat food can cause bad breath and smelly feces. A balanced and nutritious diet can help keep these odors at bay.

Lack of Proper Grooming

Even though cats are known for keeping themselves clean, sometimes they can miss spots or struggle with areas hard to reach. A lack of regular brushing can lead to an accumulation of dander and oils on your cat’s skin, causing a bad smell.

Inadequate Litter Box Maintenance

A smelly litter box can contribute to a bad-smelling cat. If the litter box is not cleaned regularly, your cat might carry the smell around, contributing to an overall unpleasant odor.

Feces Trapped in Fur

Feces trapped in your cat’s fur can also lead to bad odors. This is particularly common in long-haired cats. Regular grooming can help keep your cat clean and smelling fresh.

Dental Issues

Many things can give your kitty a stinky breath. One common cause? Dental issues. If your cat’s breath smells worse than usual, plaque or tooth decay might be the problem. Regular brushing of your cat’s teeth is crucial to prevent bad breath.

Health Issues

Another reason for a smelly cat? Health issues. An ear infection, for example, can cause an unpleasant odor. If you notice your cat scratching its ears more often or detect a bad smell, it’s time to take your cat to the veterinarian.

What is the Natural Smell of Cats?

Cats are known for their cleanliness. They groom themselves several times a day. That’s why a healthy cat doesn’t have a strong smell. The natural smell of cats can be likened to the scent of warmth and cleanliness. You might even notice a faint ‘outdoorsy’ or ‘furry’ smell.

However, if your feline friend starts smelling differently, it’s time to pay attention. An abnormal smell can be a sign of health issues. It’s not the norm for cats to smell bad. So, if you notice a strong, unusual odor from your kitty, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.

Remember, it’s normal for your cat to smell like a cat, not a bouquet of flowers. Accepting your cat’s natural smell is part of being a cat parent.

Effective Ways to Make Your Cat Smell Better

Optimizing Your Cat’s Diet for a Better Smell

What your cat eats can make a huge difference in how they smell. Poor quality cat food can cause bad breath and stinky poop. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet can help reduce these bad odors. Make sure to get advice from a vet about the best cat food for your feline friend.

Brushing Your Cat: A Simple Solution to Improve Smell

You can’t underestimate the power of a good brush. Regularly brushing your cat’s fur helps to remove dander and loose hairs that can cause a bad smell. If you don’t have the time, try brushing your cat a little more often. It can go a long way in making your kitty smell better.

Bathing Your Cat for a Fresher Scent

Although cats don’t usually need a bath, sometimes a good wash is needed to get rid of certain smells. Use cat-friendly shampoo with natural ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera. However, if bathing your cat feels like a challenge, waterless shampoo for cats can be a convenient alternative.

Professional Grooming: An All-in-One Solution

Sometimes, getting rid of cat smells can be a bit tricky. If home remedies don’t work, consider professional grooming. They can help in thoroughly cleaning your cat’s coat and giving it a fresher scent.

Preventative Health Care to Keep Your Cat Smelling Good

Regular check-ups at the vet are essential. The vet can spot health issues that might cause bad smells and treat them before they get worse. Remember, a healthy cat is a good-smelling cat!

washing a cat

Making Your Cat Smell Better Without a Bath

Bathing a scared cat can be a challenging task. However, there are ways to make your cat smell better without making them face the terror of water.

Waterless Shampoo: A Hassle-Free Alternative to Bathing

Waterless shampoo for cats is a great product for those who want to avoid the mess and stress of bathing. These shampoos often contain natural ingredients and can effectively eliminate odors from your cat’s fur. They are easy to apply and don’t require rinsing.

Regular Grooming: Keep Your Cat Smelling Fresh

If your cat isn’t a fan of baths, regular grooming can keep them smelling good. This includes brushing your cat’s fur at least once a week to remove loose fur and prevent matting. It can also help distribute natural oils on your cat’s skin, helping their fur to smell better.

Use of Cat Wipes: Quick and Easy Cleaning

Cat wipes are a fast and easy solution for a smelly cat. They can help remove dirt and loose fur from your cat’s skin, reducing any bad odors. Look for wipes that are fragrance-free and made with natural ingredients to avoid irritating your cat’s skin.

Dental Care: Don’t Forget About Your Cat’s Teeth

Just as in humans, a cat’s bad breath can be improved with regular dental care. This includes brushing your cat’s teeth with cat-friendly toothpaste and offering dental treats. Proper dental care will help keep your cat’s breath fresh and reduce the chance of dental diseases that can cause bad smells.


Keeping your cat smelling good is not just about pleasant snuggles and playtime. It’s about ensuring they are healthy and happy. Remember, a sudden change in your cat’s smell could be an indicator of underlying health issues. Regular grooming, a balanced diet, and periodic vet check-ups can prevent bad odors and keep your feline friend smelling fresh.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your cat might still smell a bit stinky. If you notice that your cat smells bad despite regular grooming and proper diet, don’t hesitate to take your cat to the vet. Early detection of health problems can make a big difference in your cat’s quality of life.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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How to Make Your Cat Smell Better!

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  1. Thank you for your post on this! My one cat doesn’t smell, but he does have a terrible dandruff issue. Maybe you can address that issue in a post?