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Why Does Cat Poop Smell So Bad?

Home » Why Does Cat Poop Smell So Bad?

We all know that feeling. Foul smelling feces creeping out from the cats litter box. It's not pleasant, and those "scented" litter brands really don't help much.

But what is there to do really? They have to go somewhere. Outside of cleaning your litter daily, a cat litter box just seems like something that's always going to smell bad. So really, why does cat poop smell so bad?

First I want you to think about your cat for a moment. Your cat spends time IN that litter box. The foul smelling stool permeates a lot deeper in those closed walls. And cat's poop smell may be bad for you, but their noses are even more intense.

Well, here's what you can do to help your cat feces smell a little bit better.

Species Appropriate Cat Food Can Help

Check the cat food! Feeding cats a species appropriate diet — as close to their natural ways as possible — affords many benefits for you and your cat. One of them is much less smelly poop. Virtually no odor at all. Some people focus on feeding their cats raw meet every day! Why? does this produce low odor poop? 

First, let’s look at why dry food causes a foul smelling poop:

  • it is VERY processed: it is cooked at high heat levels destroying all naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients in the original substance (if there were any to begin with);
  • many brands are loaded with undesirable, unhealthy, toxic ingredients that your cat’s system cannot fully utilize and digest;
  • it is sprayed with vitamins to substitute what was destroyed by the heat;
  • it is sprayed again with oils and flavorings (animal digest) to make it flavorful and appealing;
  • many brands contain artificial colors and flavors–known carcinogens–the colors are to entice you, not your cat as they go by smell;
  • you have to wonder about anything that has a really long shelf life that is not canned–toxic mold (aflatoxins) does grow on it, especially once the bag is opened;
  • the dry kibble sits in their gastrointestinal tract for hours, basically putrifying. (Think: when your cat or dog vomits even a few hours later, the kibble is still in its kibble form.)

Canned food is far better for your pet’s health and well-being than dry kibble because of it’s moisture content, yet it is also cooked at high heat. Many typical brands (i.e., the lower cost ones) are loaded with undesirable, unhealthy ingredients like many dry kibble recipes, so these lower quality ones will still result in stinky poop. 

Cats cannot digest the carbohydrates of grains found in most commercial pet foods (corn products, wheat, soy, rice, barley, oats). Corn, wheat, and soy especially can be the cause of skin problems — itchy skin with hot spots; dull, dry fur. So, you take all this super cooked food, basically dead food with no enzymes, and you get super foul smelling stools. 

Tip: if your cat has digestion issues, check out his food bowl, it could be the cause.

Digestive enzymes are very beneficial for cats fed processed, cooked foods – both on a health level and a stink factor level. Using digestive enzymes will result in less smelly stools and better quality fur and skin. They are a must for your cat’s health when feeding processed foods (canned or dry). These enzymes are virtually odorless and tasteless, so your cats should not even notice. You can order them here: Feline Digestive Enzymes

Cats can really benefit from fresh, raw food just like we benefit from fresh raw vegetables and fruits for their enzymes, nutrients and moisture. Fresh, raw meat is high in moisture content (muscle tissue has high water content). 

Cats’ short digestive tract is designed for fast movement of meat. Their bodies absorb more of this type of food than the highly processed dry kibble, so they also POOP LESS and they require less food because they feel satisfied. 

Dry kibble is like meat-flavored cereal with it’s high carbohydrate grain content. In the grain-free formulas, the grain has been replaced with vegetables like green peas and potatoes — high carbohydrates that again, your cat cannot use. So most cats will want to keep eating to feel nourished. They also can become carbohydrate addicts on dry food.

Preparing raw meat for your cat does take time. It’s empowering to take control of what you’re feeding your cat. Like the saying goes “good food takes time.” It is a labor of love. 

So maybe you’d like to try this raw meat thing. Even if you serve just one raw meat meal per day, and the other meal is dry kibble, the benefits for your cat’s health will significantly increase over feeding entirely dry food. And if raw is not your fancy (yet anyway), feeding canned once per day and dry once per day is a big improvement for your cat’s health over feeding only dry. 

Here is a breakdown of worst (1) to best (10) at two meals per day:

  • All dry food – 1
  • One meal dry and one meal canned – 4
  • One meal dry and one meal raw meat – 5
  • All canned food – 8
  • One meal canned and one meal raw meat (this is what I do) – 9
  • All raw meat – 10

Once I made it a habit to feed my cats wet food for at least one meal the smelly feces got better. In fact, due to wet food having more liquid in it, it even helped with the smell of cat urine. 

I haven't made the switch to fully raw meat yet, but if the cats poop gets intense, I know my next move.

Other Solutions: Check Your Cat's Litter Box

Next time, we will look at the types of litter available besides clay or clumping clay. Did you know there are litters out there besides clay? The litter type plays a role in your cat’s health, the stink factor, your own health, and the impact on the environment.

When talking about cats feces, there's two main things at play: their food and their litter boxes.

We made a post about frequently cleaning your litter tray, and I can't stress how important it is to be cleaning frequently. It's for your cats health. You can cause a bacterial infection if the litter box is too dirty. Remember, your cat's feces sits there all day, and no matter how great the cat foods your giving them are, there's still bacteria in a cat's stool. So if your cat frequents the litter box, it can cause serious health issues down the road.

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