FOOD & TREATS

Best Cat Food for Smelly Poop: Choosing the Right Diet to Reduce the Stench

Little kitty sitting near a litter box in house
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Cat poop—or any other type of poop for that matter—is not supposed to smell like flowers, but that doesn’t mean it should be a stench from hell either. Odds are, if you are reading this post, you have had one or more issues with cat poop that stinks to the high heavens. While there are a lot of suggestions on how to make that disappear, we believe the key lies in the food that your cat eats. We would like to suggest to you the best cat food for smelly poop to help you get a hand on your situation.

If you consider your hygiene and that of the people around you important, you would want to limit the stench of cat poop to the barest minimum. Logically, what goes out depends on what goes in. Therefore, by feeding your cat high-quality food, you would be able to nip the problem in the bud. The best cat food for smelly poop also tends to be very good for your cat’s overall health, so this is a failsafe choice.

side-view-of-cat-eating-food-on-floor

Drawing from our experience, this piece will be detailing the subject of cat poop smells, all you need to know about it, and how to change the diet of your furry little buddy accordingly. By the end of this article, you will have a perfect understanding of what causes your cat’s poop to smell and how to solve this stinky problem.

Causes of Smelly Cat Poop

We should take a moment to consider why the cat’s poop smells at all. Again, poop wasn’t meant to be a sweet-smelling mound, but there’s just that stubborn one with the nose-rotting stench that lingers all around the house, irrespective of the ventilation.

Thus, we need to identify the underlying factors if we are to address the subject properly. The next time your cat drops some poop-from-hell that threatens to take over the house, know that one of these might be behind your current situation

Bacteria

Some bacteria (such as E. coli and Salmonella) can do well to inhibit any attempt you make to stop your cat poop from smelling so bad. These organisms usually cause inflammation in the excretory organs of your pet, leading to cases of diarrhea.

Cat relaxing on a chair

Likewise, the infections can also cause your pet to be prone to gassing, which is known to contribute to the foul smell in the house/ litter box. Aside from bacteria, a number of viruses also do the same thing.

Parasites

Some parasites that are present in the intestine of your cats will cause their poop to smell. One parasite that is notorious for this kind of reaction in animals is Giardia. Unlike with bacteria, sometimes your cat can be afflicted with parasites without showing obvious symptoms such as diarrhea—making it sometimes hard to recognize an underlying medical condition. Aside from Giardia, Coccidia and Trichomonas are worthy culprits too. All these suggest that a visit to the vet might not be out of place if your cat starts dropping smell bombs.

Diet

This has to be the singular biggest cause of smelly poop in cats. Since cat parents often give their cats a variety of food types, it is hard to nail down a particular one that contributes the most to the smell. It is usually advised that you eliminate one ingredient from the overall cat meal for about a week, and alternate it that way until you get to pick out the offending one.

As a rule, it is said that the more carbohydrate is contained in the cat food, the smellier the poop will be. On the other hand, serving your cat food that is rich in proteins (animal-based) will greatly reduce such smells.

Image of a cat that doesn't want to eat

Furthermore, the fact that cats are predators (although in the wild they can sometimes be prey too) makes for a bigger argument in the influence of their food over their stool. Imagine that your cat was eating some lizards, bugs, and rodents while you were unaware. That would surely be setting you all up for a smelly poop situation very soon. To cap it all off, vitamins supplements are notorious for giving your cat’s poop a bad smell. Note that you should never give a vitamin or mineral supplement to your pet without first discussing it with your vet.

Digestive Problems

A series of digestive disorders in your cat can give rise to a putrid smell in their fecal matter. If a cat were to suffer from cases of mal-digestion and/or mal-absorption, they are very likely to produce smelly stools. The smell in that stool can then be blamed on the presence of undissolved, undigested, and unabsorbed fats and starch in the droppings.

Poor Ventilation

The problem could usually be traced back to the cat, but you might also be aggravating the issue. If you have placed your cat litter box somewhere without proper ventilation, even if your cat is perfectly healthy it would be farfetched to expect a fresh-smelling house.

Image of a little kitty in a litter box

It is advised that you put your cat’s litter in a room with proper ventilation near a window or have an air purification system in place. Failure to do this will make the smell of the poop concentrated, thereby tainting the air around it.

Allergies

This point accounts for a smaller percentage of the cases of smelly cat poop, but that doesn’t mean it can be ruled out. If your cat is not usually one to stink up the place and they just recently started, try to track back to see what new things you’ve put into their diet. You can try this by the elimination method suggested above until you find what seems to be the problem, and do away with it totally.

How to Choose Cat Food for Smelly Poop

You don’t have to shop for the most expensive, most specialized cat food for smelly poop to do away with the smell. There are plenty of solutions available to you. In fact, the perfect one may just be within an arm’s length. What we will be doing here is point you in the right direction. Next time you’re shopping for cat food, make sure to put the following into consideration:

‘Cheap’ is Not Always Best

If you have been buying your cat some new brands of cheap food and his poop starts to smell, it is time to stop. If it is a problem of budget conflicts, you could speak to your vet who is in a better position to suggest you worthier alternatives than that which makes your house smell like a dump.

Image of a cat sitting with a bowl of food in front of her

A lot of those cheap foods were made without consideration of your cat’s health. If you keep feeding them that, you might need to take your cat to the vet in the nearest future over the issue of poor health. This will certainly be more expensive than if you had fed your cat high-quality food from the first place.

Fewer Carbohydrates, More Proteins

This has been suggested in the list before this one. The more carbohydrates you feed your cat, the higher the chances of them making poop that disturbs the air in your house. Unlike dogs and humans, cats are referred to as ‘obligate carnivores.’

This means that while we (and dogs) can choose to become vegan, nature did not give cats that option. It is true that your cats can eat vegetables when you give it to them, but that is not nature’s plan for them.

Hungry scottish fold cat eating a food on bright background.

Imagine if your cat was not living in your home but out in the wild. Do you think he would be chasing after some herbs and vegetables? No! Instead of getting your cat food that is rich in carbs, switch to something that offers a higher percentage of protein instead.

Use Animal-Based Protein

The fact that most people don’t know the source of the protein content in their cat’s food, only the percentage, is one thing manufacturers use to take advantage of unsuspecting cat parents.

Since your cat needs more proteins, you can go out to buy cat food claiming to have some high percentage of this protein. What you don’t see is that an even higher percentage of that is plant protein, not animal protein.

Close up of Cats eating

You think it’s all the same? Wrong! What your cat needs is animal protein.

Buttressing on the part where we said cats are obligate carnivores, their protein needs can only be solved by the ingestion of animal proteins. Not only that, but animal-based protein also makes sure they have lower bowel movements and by extension less smelly poops

Grain-Free vs. No Carbs

Still, on the issue of carbohydrates, know that a manufacturer claiming their product is grain free doesn’t mean it contains no carbs. It might just mean that they have removed all the grains and added other fillers like potatoes instead.

tabby cat eating food out of a bowl

Potatoes are not grain, but they are still a high source of carbohydrate. Such meals end up containing 45–50% carbs, harming your cat the more. Instead of just being pleased with the promise of no grains, go the extra mile to see what the food has been made of exactly.

Know Your Cat’s Diet

Knowing foods your cat loves and food that they react badly to can help you get rid of the foul smell. Some cats are highly sensitive and thus, allergic to some food items/ingredients. That could ultimately result in smelly poop in the nearest future. Having the knowledge of things your cat is allergic to will help you nip the problem in the bud

Get Raw Food

Raw food is one of the few options that can be considered the ultimate answer to smelly poop in cats. In fact, you can have as much as zero smell from the cat’s poop if you go raw.

cat-and-raw-food on a wooden table

Of course, you should speak to your vet about this before starting at all. That is so you will know the possible dangers to be aware of, how to adapt your cat to that kind of feeding, and what kind of feeding timetable will suit your feline.

Other Considerations for Reducing Cat Poop Smell

Aside from the cat’s diet, which is a major determinant, there are other supporting measures you can put in place to reduce the stink of your cat’s poop.

Teach Your Cat to Cover His Poop

Out in the wild, cats have learned to cover their poop to escape being tracked down by predators via the stench. Some cats have lost this instinct due to domestication, but you can still train your cat to do it. When they cover their poop, the rate at which it smells will be largely subdued.

Even if your cat is trained to cover his poop, a litter box that’s too small for them will restrict their movement and willingness to do so. Likewise, a closed litter box might be counterproductive.

Little white kitty getting out of the litter box

Such a box will keep the smell contained in a tight area, concentrate it, and release it all over the house once you open the box. That is not to mention what the cat would have to go through by being locked up in a small compartment with their own fecal matter. Sensitive cats may choose not to do their business in the litter box at all.

Allow for Ventilation

While addressing the underlying cause of your cat’s smelly poop, you can make the process less unbearable by ensuring proper ventilation. Move the litter box next to a window if necessary. If there’s an air purifier in the house, there won’t be a better time to use it than now.

Provide Ample Litter

You want your cat to cover up their poop, but with what? Provide at least three inches of litter in your cat’s box so they can cover up their own droppings as soon as they are done.

Image of a cat using the litter box

Of course, this is assuming your cat has already been potty trained to do so.

Clean the Litter Boxes Frequently

This is a no-brainer. If you don’t want the smell of the poop to fester, clean out the litter box as fast as you can. The poop already has its own smell. Leaving it to stay unattended for long allows bacteria to work on it and break it down, leading to a release of more putrid gases. That process will only continue until you do something to the poop.

See a Vet

Sometimes it’s not the diet, and it’s not your level of hygiene either. It is just that something is wrong with the cat.

Veterinarian examining cat in vet's surgery

Taking your cat to the vet will reveal whatever is out of place so you can start nursing your feline back to 100% health again.

Wrap Up

When someone enters your house, they can nearly always tell if you have a cat or not due to the kind of smell that permeates. The smell might not be noticeable to you since you have grown so accustomed to it over time, but new nose receptors will pick out the distinct scent immediately.

To ensure a better quality of life for you, your cat, and your visitors, be sure to treat the matter of smelly poop seriously. The cat’s diet is the culprit behind most cases of smelly poop. That does not rule out other causes such as the ones we have listed out above, so you have to be on the lookout.

cat-eating-dry-cat-food2

If you have a cat that gives you this kind of problem, following our guideline in choosing their food will help you get rid of the smell. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to take your cat to the vet so you can rule out any other causative factors.

Does your cat’s poop smell? What kind of food do you give him? If you have dealt with a case of smelly cat poop in the past, let us know how you got rid of it in the comments section.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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