Do Indoor Cats Smell?

A big benefit to having an indoor cat as a pet is their lack of odour. Cats are meticulous about keeping themselves and their living area as clean as possible. A healthy cat will not give off any noticeable smell when they are living indoors. The thing that can start to smell however is their litterbox. This can’t really be helped and we are personally grateful that are cats are clean enough to feel the need to use a litter box for all of their business.

The most common reason for cats causing an apartment to smell is when their litter isn’t properly managed. Other cat related items can also start to stink out the house over time. The smell from a well-kept litter box in an appropriate place will be unnoticeable most of the time. If you live in a smaller apartment, it will only really smell when litter needs to be changed. If you clean your litter box daily your apartment or house should still smell fresh. Let’s look over when indoor cats smell, what to do to prevent them from smelling, and when you need to be concerned.

Do indoor cats make houses smelly?

A healthy cat won’t produce won’t have a noticeable smell to them. This is one of the best advantages of having a house cat as opposed to most other pets. Even a well-groomed and bathed dog will make an apartment or house smell a bit musky, its mostly unavoidable. The smelliest part of a cat is probably their breath which you will really only notice if they yawn in your face.

Cats do have distinct scents and they rely on their scent to mark territory. They rub their scent glands on objects and other animals to claim them. It’s important that they do this to satisfy their natural need to claim territory to feel comfortable at home. Despite their natural need to spread smell, cat scents are imperceptible to humans. Cats’ noses have 14 times more smell receptors than ours and they can pick up scents that we can’t.  

It’s much more common for the stuff that goes into and out of your cat to make a stink at home. You can stop your house smelling of “cat” by sealing off their food items and managing their litter box properly.

Open dry or wet cat food has a distinctive smell and people who aren’t used to it may find it a bit nauseating. Smells will spread even more on hot days. If you think your house is starting to smell a bit, you can invest some money into airtight storage containers for your cat food.

Litter boxes are another source of cat stink but if they are properly managed you won’t be able to notice them normally, even if you live in a small apartment. Emptying your litter box properly twice a day is normally enough to stop a build up of unpleasant smells. It also helps to put litter boxes in well ventilated areas.

Why does my cat smell bad?

It is not normal for a cat to smell bad, especially a cat that spends their life indoors. The most common reason why indoor cats smell bad is because they have managed to get smeared in something smelly on their fur. If we notice our cats smelling bad, we always give them a quick visual inspection over their body, paying special attention to paws and legs, to see if they have stepped in something dirty. Its quite rare, but unfortunately most of the time they smell bad its because they have stepped in their own poop in the litter box and have smeared it on their paws and fur. If you can’t find anything on their fur and the smell has passed, you have caught a whiff of their breath or a particularly bad cat fart. If they have stepped in a mess we wash that part of their body with lukewarm water and some mild soap. If they have a mild smell on their fur a regular brushing may help them freshen up.

Apart from this, if your cat smells bad it probably has a medical condition such as a festering wound or a parasite. If you notice your cat smelling bad and you have checked their fur for obvious signs of the smell you should make an appointment with your vet. If they smell really bad, like rotting food, they may have serious medical conditions inside their body. Bathing them may temporarily solve this problem but the smell will eventually return. You should still get them checked out even if its their butt that smells bad. If a cat’s rear end smells it could be a sign of a problem with their anal glands.

My indoor cat’s litterbox always smells of urine

The smell of cat urine can linger for a long time and often the main source of bad cat smells in the house. This smell is pungent but can easily be managed if you spend a couple of minutes every day to clean your cat’s litterbox. A less regular deep-clean will also be needed to stop your litter box picking up smells permanently. The way you deal with cat urine will depend on the type of litter you use.

Its easy to focus on scooping poop when you empty a litter tray but you should also focus on finding patches of soaked up cat urine to throw away. Cat urine smells strongly of ammonia, but cat litter will absorb the smell. If you use a clumping cat litter this should be reasonably easy to do with a litter scoop. You will need to use a solid spoon if you have a non-clumping cat litter. Try to not spread out the soaked cat litter while you do this to keep the rest of the box smelling fresh. Cats might sometimes have diarrhea which can smell worse than their normal bowl movements. Clean up can be made easier by covering the feces in more litter before scooping.

If your litter box often smells strongly of cat pee you may need to put more cat litter in the box. When your cat urinates, the urine will pool in the specific area and travel down. You may have a lot of litter in the box, but the patch they decide to do their business in can be thin after they move litter about. Their urine then has a chance to soak through to the bottom of the tray and not get soaked up by the litter. Watch your cat the next time they go to the toilet to check if they need a thicker layer of litter. You can also try shaking the litter flat after cleaning a box to even out the thickness of your litter.

If you haven’t managed to clean your litter box frequently enough, you will have noticed that a hard yellow layer forming in the bottom of the tray. It will make your litter tray strongly of ammonia even after replacing litter. You can try to chip this off but if there is a lot of it we would consider just buying a new litter box and taking better care of it to avoid the same problem in the future.