The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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As a cat owner, there’s possibly nothing more adorable than cuddling with your kitten. Every once in a while, though, cuddling time is interrupted by a smell distinctly similar to poop.
This may come as a surprise to you given that cats are extremely fastidious when it comes to self-grooming.
Your first instinct when your kitten smells like poop will probably be to give her a bath. This solution will work in most cases.
Still, there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed in order to prevent it from happening again.
In this article, we take a look at the causes that make you ask, “Why does my kitten smell like poop?” We also offer some solutions to eliminate these causes.
Why Does My Kitten Smell Like Poop?
Your kitten may smell like poop for a number of reasons. While the smell is particularly unpleasant, what’s causing it is usually nothing serious.
Cats are probably the most hygienically conscious of all domesticated pets. The sight of a cat brushing and cleaning her fur using her tongue, teeth, and even paws isn’t unfamiliar to us.
Still, this doesn’t mean that a cat can’t get dirty at all.
1 – Dirty Litter
A dirty litter box is the most obvious and easily remedied cause. If you aren’t cleaning your kitten’s litter enough, it can cause a kitten to smell like poop.
If your kitten’s litter box is dirty, poop particles can stick to her fur when she uses the box.
In addition, it’s instinctual for cats to try and cover their poop. They’ll paw at the litter or sand with their tiny hands, which may end up getting covered with poop and urine.
Not only that, but many kittens may relish playing inside their litter box.
That’s why it’s essential to maintain your kitten’s litter box. You should ensure that it’s always as clean as possible. This can eliminate the possibility of your kitten smelling like poop in the future.
2 – Kitten Frolicking
Unless you’ve just added new litter to the box, your kitten will most likely roll in poop and urine residue. Most kittens enjoy a good frolic in the litter box, inadvertently covering their fur with poop.
You can either give your kitten a quick bath or wipe her with a pet wipe when this happens. You’ll be able to get rid of the smell right away.
If your kitten does this often, you should try to distract it with a toy. This can help her keep playing time out of the litter box and away from the poop.
3 – Matted Hair
If your kitten is a long-haired breed, she’s more likely to get her fur matted. This could happen due to a lack of grooming.
An injured cat or a cat unable to reach its hindquarters may not be able to groom itself properly. As a result, parts of its fur may start to clump, which might end up accumulating poop and urine.
To get rid of any matted hair, you can trim it yourself or have your vet shave it off.
You can avoid any future hair matting by keeping your kitten’s rear end trimmed. You can also regularly brush her fur to prevent it from clumping.
4 – Diet Changes
Cats are known to have sensitive stomachs. Food allergies, intolerances, and new foods can upset a cat’s stomach. That’s why you should pay special attention to what you’re feeding your kitten.
A sudden change in your kitten’s diet can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. These include diarrhea and flatulence, which is built-up gas trapped in a cat’s stomach or intestines.
Moreover, cats with poor diets—low in protein and high in grains and fibers—can suffer from runny poop and gas.
Diarrhea or runny poop can stain your kitten’s fur, which can be the cause of the terrible smell. If that’s not the case, she might be a bit gassy.
Other than that, certain foods can make your kitten’s poop smell extremely pungent. When your kitten is doing her business, the smell might latch onto her fur.
5 – Digestion Issues
Sometimes, the reason your kitten smells like poop may not be visible. Kittens who suffer from digestive issues may have diarrhea, which can get stuck on the kitten’s fur, or gas.
There are several reasons that can be causing your kitten digestive issues, including:
- Consuming dairy products
- Eating too fast
- Eating spoiled food
- Eating foods that contain high fiber, wheat, soybeans, or corn
- Suffering from food allergies
- Poor digestion
- Intestinal parasites
If your kitten has gas, you may notice that your kitten’s belly feels bloated. In addition, a kitten that has gas may become a little aloof, refusing physical proximity and playtime.
Gas can sometimes bring about some discomfort. That’s why it’s important to find out what’s causing the digestive issues and address it immediately.
6 – Bad Breath
In some cases, the poop-like smell can be coming from your kitten’s mouth. This can happen if your cat has a poor diet or has eaten something it shouldn’t.
If this is temporary, then you have nothing to worry about. Make sure to adjust her diet appropriately.
However, if the smell persists, then it could be caused by dental disease, ulcers, growths, or wounds. In any of these cases, your kitten should see a vet.
7 – Dirty Kitten
All of these causes amount to one thing: a dirty kitten.
Under normal circumstances, cats are meticulous self-groomers. Sometimes, however, they might miss a spot or two. It’s even worse if they’re overweight or sick in any way.
What’s more, your kitten may still be learning how to groom herself. Sometimes, she’ll forget to clean herself after she steps into the litter box. Other times, she won’t do it properly.
For that reason, you should check your kitten for any matting or stuck poop and get rid of it immediately. You should also bathe and groom your kitten routinely.
It’s also important to maintain a clean environment around your cat until then. Eventually, she’ll grow and learn how to groom and clean herself well.
Medical Conditions That Can Cause Poop Smell
While it’s unlikely, your kitten may smell like poop due to an underlying medical condition. If you think your kitten is suffering from any health problems, you should pay a visit to the vet.
8 – Anal Gland Infection
Cats have anal glands that release a poop-like smell during pooping and territory marking. If you can’t find the source of the poop smell, an anal gland infection could be the cause.
Infected anal glands may start leaking or developing abscesses. Either case can be the cause of your kitten smelling like poop.
You should take your kitten for a vet visit if you notice your kitten displaying any or a number of these symptoms:
- Scooting and scratching on the floor
- Constantly licking and biting the area
- Having trouble doing her business
9 – Constipation
When a cat is constipated, she might strain to poop. As a result, runny poop might pass, which can stick to her fur.
Constipation can make your kitten very uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to get down to the root of the problem as soon as you can.
The most common cause of constipation in kittens is dehydration. A poor diet may also be the reason.
10 – Arthritis
Although arthritis is much more common in older cats, it can affect cats of all ages. A kitten that suffers from arthritis may find it painful to groom herself well.
The pain from arthritis could force the kitten to neglect herself, which can cause the bad smell that’s emitting from her fur.
If you suspect that your kitten may have arthritis, you should take her to the vet. If that’s the case, he’ll prescribe medication that can alleviate her condition.
Your kitten will need your help when it comes to grooming. That’s why you should regularly give her baths and wipe her. This won’t just get rid of the poop smell, but it can also make your kitten feel more comfortable.
11 – Chronic Illnesses
Chronic illnesses can make it hard for a kitten to stay clean. If she’s in pain or exhausted, she may not groom herself thoroughly.
As a result, the kitten’s fur may become greasy, dandruff-ridden, and stinky. A sick kitten may even become totally uninterested in grooming.
You can gently, but thoroughly, groom your kitten yourself. This can alleviate her spirits a little. Then, you should take your kitten to the vet so he can help you nurse her back to health.
12 – Urinary Tract Infection
This condition can make cat urine smell more acidic than usual. Combine that with poop and you get an unpleasantly acrid smell emitting from the cat.
If you notice that your kitten’s pee smells extra pungent, you may need to take her to the vet.
13 – Parasitic Infection
If you notice a sudden change in your kitten’s poop smell, a vet should intervene. In most cases, she’ll be prescribed antibiotics and other medications to get rid of the parasites.
How to Get Rid of the Smell
Given the fact that cats can be sensitive to smells, there’s a huge chance that your kitten is as bothered by the smell of poop as you. That’s why you should consider methods to get rid of the smell.
Fortunately, we have some tips on how to solve this issue.
Clean Litter Box Regularly
You should scoop poop from the litter box at least twice a day—more if your kitten is the kind to poop frequently. This can help keep the litter box fresh and clean for as long as possible.
Sprinkling cat litter deodorizer or baking soda can also eliminate bad odor and reduce bacteria.
What’s more, washing and scrubbing your kitten’s litter box twice a month can ensure that it’s thoroughly clean.
Change the Kitten’s Diet
It’s true that diet changes can have an effect on your kitten’s stomach. Nevertheless, if the poop smell is caused by digestion issues, then your kitten should be put on a new diet.
You should eliminate any dairy products, grains, wheat, corn, and soy. High fiber foods should be avoided too. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they don’t really need dietary fiber.
Many cat foods out there contain pea protein, which isn’t the best for a cat’s stomach. Look for cat food that contains a high percentage of protein that comes from meat products, such as duck and chicken.
You should gradually introduce your kitten to her new diet. Start by switching small amounts of its current food with the new food and mix them together. Do this for several days, then increase the amount again.
Continue to do this until your kitten’s current food has been completely replaced with the new food. This should help your kitten’s digestive system get used to the new food without risking any negative reaction.
Groom Your Kitten
Kittens that haven’t learned how to self-groom should be bathed at least once a week. If they’ve started self-grooming, that can be cut back to once every four to six weeks.
You can also use unfragranced cat wet wipes to clean your kitten’s bum to make sure that no poop particles are stuck to her fur.
Regular brushing can also help keep dirt or poop out of your kitten’s fur.
You shouldn’t be worried or revolted if your kitten suddenly starts to smell like poop. Chances are that your kitten either needs a quick bath or her litter box cleaned.
You can check your kitten’s fur and make sure that it’s clean. You should also make sure that the cause of the poop smell isn’t your kitten’s diet.
It’s rare that something serious is making your kitten smell like poop. However, if you suspect that the poop smell is caused by an underlying medical condition, you should take your kitten to the vet.