Why Do Cats Smell Good?

Why Do Cats Smell Good?

Ever wonder why your cat smells good and you don’t? Kidding aside, cats tend to smell nice which is in part because they are finicky groomers.  If your cat stays indoors most of the time she may also tend to smell good compared to other cats that have access to the outdoors. 

Why do cats smell good?

Cats can smell good for the following reasons:

1. They may have been sleeping in front of a fireplace. 

Wood smoke smells aromatic and it can linger in your cat’s fur if she frequently sleeps in front of a fireplace. 

2. They may have been cuddled by someone who was wearing perfume. 

Curious why your cat suddenly smelled of baby cologne or Gucci perfume? Chances are, she may have been cuddled earlier by your daughter or sister. Scents last on a cat’s fur for quite a while so do not get confused the next time your cat smells of cologne or perfume. 

3. They may be laying or sleeping atop some fresh laundry. 

Cats seek out comfortable spots where they can snooze or nap and a pile of fresh laundry is just one perfect place. So, the next time you catch a whiff of fabric conditioner scent on your cat, you know where she has been!

4. They may have been sleeping in flowerbeds. 

If you are an avid plant and flower enthusiast, chances are your cats may have been hanging out on your flowerbeds lately.  Nice-smelling flowers like roses and lavender may be appealing to your cat which is why she likes to hang around them.

Why do cats sometimes smell bad?

While cats may smell good most of the time, there are also instances when they emit an unpleasant smell. 

These are the common reasons why cats may smell unpleasant:

1. It may be due to poop clinging on their butt or fur in the backside.

Cats are finicky especially when it comes to bathroom time but sometimes toilet accidents happen. Poop may get attached to their butt or backside fur resulting in an unpleasant odor. This bad odor may persist since it clings into fur so if you notice any cling-on, wipe your cat’s butt with grooming wipes

2. It may be due to emissions from the anal gland.

Cats have two anal glands that produce a fishy-smelling emission. When they are excited or scared, cats tend to release this gland emission. It is usually normal but the smell can be very overwhelming. Tumors or infections in the anal area may result in a very arresting odor and it tends to linger for quite some time. 

3. It may be due to ear infections. 

Cats are prone to ear problems such as an ear infection which may be accompanied by an unpleasant odor. Yeast growth in the ears may result in a musty odor while bacterial infections due to polyps, tumors or allergies may result in a fetid smell. Similarly, if cats have an ear mite infestation a dark material may appear in the inner ear that looks like coffee grounds and it also has a foul odor. 

4. It may be due to your cat’s bad teeth. 

Your cat may smell unpleasant because of bad and decaying teeth. To prevent this, have her checked by the vet regularly. Try to brush her teeth daily if she allows it. 

5. Your cat may have sprayed herself with her urine. 

Have you noticed that your cat smells of urine? It may be that she had a pee in the wind and sprayed herself.  It may also be due to an earlier conflict with another cat and she was sprayed on with urine. Whatever the situation may be, your cat may end up smelling of pee resulting in an unpleasant smell. 

6. It may be that they stepped on something that smells bad. 

Cats love adventure and if they have access to the outdoors this may pose a sanitation problem.  They may happen to step on something like dog poop or decomposing matter. As a result, it may stick on their paws and the unpleasant odor may linger when they go back indoors. 

7. It may be due to skin concerns. 

Skin problems may also be the culprit for the bad smell. Skin infections due to wounds, allergies, immune disorders or parasites disturb the skin’s protective mechanism and may emit unpleasant odors. Bacterial skin infections have a putrid odor while yeast infections may produce a musty smell. Bite wounds and injuries may develop into pus-filled abscesses that emit a foul odor especially when pus oozes out of the wound. Nevertheless, cats with matted hair and unable to groom themselves because of arthritis or obesity may have a funky and unpleasant odor due to their greasy and unkempt coats. 

Different smells/ scents associated with cats

Aside from those mentioned above such as laundry, human fragrance, poo and urine, there are other scents and odors that are often associated with cats:

  • dust – cats can be dust magnets because it gets entangled in their fur 
  • grass – if your cat has access to the outdoors she will most likely smell like grass because its smell will easily cling to their fur as they wander around grassy areas. 
  • the vet’s office – your cat may smell like the vet’s office after her regular visit or check-up
  • cat food –  cats will normally smell like cat food after a hearty meal 
  • Fritos – some cat owners attest that their cats sometimes smell like Fritos and while there is no solid explanation why, it may be that your kitty was rummaging through your garbage bin and salvaged a Fritos bag 
  • sweet and candy-like –  again, there is no solid explanation to this but some cat owners say that their cats sometimes smell sweet and candy-like


Cats are very good groomers and may spend five hours or more each day just licking and grooming themselves. Aside from being finicky groomers, they also smell good because they may be cuddled by persons wearing perfume, they were sleeping in front of the fireplace or were hanging around in a lavender flowerbed.  

Image: istockphoto.com / cyano66