How To Get Rid Of Nasty Cat Smells

cat lying on bed

If you’re a cat lover like me, you, the last thing you need is a smelly house or, indeed, a smelly cat. In this post, you’ll learn how to get rid of nasty cat smells in your home and your cat!

Before we get rid of the cat smells in our home, we first need to determine if the smell is coming from your cat, your house, or both!

If your cat smells.

If your cat smells there can be several reasons for it:

  • Bad breath
  • Anal glands
  • Skin problems
  • Ear infections
  • Teeth problems
  • Boil or ulcer

Cats are fastidiously clean animals and do not like to live in chaos and dirt. They are constantly bathing themselves and are immaculately clean. My cat can spend twenty minutes grooming himself from top to toe when he comes in from outside. If I touch him while he’s bathing, he starts all over again! (If only my son were as fastidious !)

How to fix a stinky cat.

  1. Cat bad breath

    If your cat sometimes smells like fish for a short time, this could be due to them just eating their cat food, and their cat fishy breath will return to normal in no time. If your cat is drooling and smells bad, this is an indication that there is a problem in his mouth.
    This can be caused by dental disease, rotten teeth, ulcers, abscesses, gingivitis, gum disease, or uremic breath due to kidney failure.
    If you think your cat has any of these problems, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible to get it sorted.

    ginger cat

  2. Musty foul odor coming from the rear

    If your cat smells musky, this is most common in unneutered male cats and is often due to blocked anal glands. If you take the cat to the vet, they can express the anal gland and alleviate the problem. If the smell is persistent after treatment, there is a possibility that it may be due to an underlying health problem like an abscess or a tumor and will need to be checked out straight away.

  3. Ear infection

    Sometimes if your cat has an ear infection, you can smell it from the other side of the room. However, some cats may only smell when you get close up to them. Both will need treatment as soon as possible, as this can be very painful for a cat.

  4. Skin problems

    Skin problems are less common in cats than dogs due to their fastidious self-cleaning regime. If your cat is a bit stinky and you think it’s coming from their skin, it may be due to a bacterial skin infection, but this is quite rare. Seek veterinary advice if you suspect your cat suffers from a skin problem and get him checked out by the vet.

  5. Infected wound

    When a wound becomes infected, it can smell absolutely hideous. An infected wound can be quite difficult to spot on a cat as they can be hidden from sight. If you think your cat has an infected wound, check your cat thoroughly and take him to the vet, where they will prescribe a course of antibiotics, then clean and sometimes lance the wound for you.

  6. Abscess or boil

    Sometimes your cat may have an abscess or boil, which may need to be lanced to eliminate the foul-smelling puss inside.

House smells of cat.

If your house smells of cat it could be:

  • Litter tray problems
  • Upholstery smells
  • Carpet smells
  • Urine, poop, and vomit

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How to fix cat smells around the home.

Litter tray smells.

  1. Clean the litter tray regularly. I must admit I have two cats, and a dirty litter tray is one of my biggest peeves.
    I hate to see a soiled litter tray. There is absolutely no excuse!
    Cat pee is made up of different compounds from human and dog urine. When the enzymes start to break down in the cat pee, the smell starts to get putrid. Cleaning the tray as soon as it is used is the key to keeping the home smelling fresher. If you have a really chaotic life, you might be better with a biodegradable disposable litter tray like this one. You throw it away when it’s soiled. You can also line the litter tray with a bag like these drawstring ones, which you pull out and throw away.
  2. Have one litter tray per cat. Cats do not like to share a litter tray with another cat. If you only have one tray, you might find one of your cats peeing and pooping elsewhere in the home, which can be a huge contributor to cat smells.
  3. Make sure the cat litter is big enough for your cat to use without it missing and pooping over the box, and clean up any mishaps as soon as they occur. Use a large litter tray like this one.
  4. Do not overfill the litter tray, or your cat will chuck most of it over the sides when he’s burying his business! As long as you empty the mess as soon as it happens, you shouldn’t need to overfill the litter tray. You can get litter trays with high sides like this one, which should help keep the litter in the box.
  5. Try to use a hooded litter tray. A hooded litter tray like this one, keeps smells inside the little box rather than letting them emanate around your home. The only downside to having a hooded litter tray is that you cant see when it’s been soiled, so you have to keep checking to keep on top of the smells!
  6. Clean up any mess immediately after use where possible, do not allow it to build up or just cover up urine and poop with more litter. Scoop out immediately after use, or as soon as you can.
  7. Ventilate the area as best that you can. Open windows in your home every day to change the air. Fresh air is the cleanest smell of all for a home, and it is much fresher than trying to mask nasty cat smells with air fresheners and sprays. Fling open the windows and get some clean air in! I open my windows every day for about half an hour, even in the winter. On colder days, you can leave the window open by just an inch to freshen the room!
  8. Sweep the area around the litter box to prevent litter tracking into the rest of the home. Use a litter tracker stopper like this one, which catches the litter from your cat’s paws before it gets trodden all over.
  9. Keep the litter tray in an inconspicuous area, like a basement, utility room, bathroom. Litter trays should be kept away from communal areas like the lounge, kitchen, and dining room. I’m not a fan of having a litter tray in the bathroom, but it is better in there than the kitchen, hall, or lounge, where visitors will see it immediately. You can buy a cat litter cupboard like this one if you really have to keep it in a communal area, as it will be totally out of sight!
  10. Try to encourage your cat to go to the toilet outside as much as you can, unless, of course, they are a house cat! If my cat sniffs around the tray, I grab him and put him outside as I know he’d rather pee inside than go out in the rain! It’s a good idea to fit a cat flap like this to encourage your cat to go out more often.
  11. Use a clumping cat litter like this one. I think it’s the best cat litter for odor control because it makes it much easier to scoop it all out and stick it straight in the wheelie bin when it clumps. I don’t bother with the slatted litter scoops; I use a food scoop like this one as they are larger, and I can get most of it up in one scoop!

Upholstery smells


Sometimes cat smells can cling to upholstery, particularly urine, vomit, and poop smells. It’s imperative that you clean up any accidents straight away to prevent nasty cat smells from lingering. Read about how to get urine off a mattress here.

If your cat likes to sit in a certain spot on your bed or couch, throw a snuggly blanket like this one down and chuck it in the wash once a week.

Carpet smells


Cat smells can become trapped in the fibers of your carpet and linger for a long time. Read about how to get rid of nasty carpet smells in this post where I run through the different carpet smells and talk about removing them, including cat pee smell, poop, and vomit!
Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on your carpet to neutralize any bad odors before you vacuum and get your carpets cleaned regularly.

Cat urine / fishy smell in urine


If your cat is not getting to the cat littler in time or keeps peeing where he shouldn’t, he may have a urinary tract infection or a systemic illness such as kidney disease. Get him checked out by the vet as soon as possible before your cat becomes ill and starts to suffer. Use a cat urine remover like this one as soon as the accident occurs. Cat smells, like pee, worsen the longer you leave them and become very difficult to remove once they have taken hold. If your cat has fishy smelling urine, this could be due to the ammonia in your cats wee and is quite common. Older cats have stronger smelling urine than kitten smells, and a male cat’s urine smells more pungent than a female cat’s urine.

How to keep your home smelling fresh.

ginger cat
  • Keep your home clean and clutter-free.
  • Replace old smelly carpets with wood or tiled floors where possible.
  • Use leather couches and chairs instead of fabric.
  • Air the house well, open windows and doors.
  • Install a cat flap to encourage your cat to go to the toilet outside. This is especially helpful at night.
  • Keep your pet’s stuff clean. Wash all pet bedding every week.
  • Wash human bedding if the cat sleeps on it weekly.
  • Clean up litter regularly, and disinfect the littler tray every few days with pet disinfectant
  • Keep on top of your cat’s hygiene, and keep your cat clean and well cared for.

Cat care


✔︎ Feed your cat good quality cat food, and don’t give him sweet treats. This will help maintain a good oral hygiene level in your cat.

FAQ

My cat smells like death what could it be?

Check with the list above, then consult your vet. There may be several reasons your cat is smelly.

My cat smells bad and is losing weight what should I do?

If your cat is sick and smells bad, seek medical advice straight away. Sometimes when cats get very old, they can start to lose weight and start to smell and look less clean. A vet will be able to determine the reason for your cat’s weight loss and odor.

My cat smells like poop.

If your cat is smelly, check that he hasn’t got some poop stuck to his backside. Sometimes, my cat smells of poo, and some poop has stuck to his fur.

My cat smells like fart.

Sometimes a cat smells bad when scared, and they may pass foul-smelling wind in stressful situations.

cat lying on bed

My cat suddenly smells bad

Is this is a new cat smell? Check the list above to make sure the cat stinks are treatable. If you can’t decide where the smell is coming from, making sure you get your cat checked over by the vet, who will determine the cause of the smell.

What are smells cats hate?

Cats hate the smell of orange peel, lemon, lime, grapefruit, mint, menthol, lavender, geranium, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, banana, mustard, and cinnamon.

Now you’ve read about how to get rid of nasty cat smells why not read how to move house with a cat

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