Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville’s holistic vet, offers Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat: Asheville’s Holistic Vet Reveals The Common Causes of Feline Odors
Stinky cats? Are there really such things? Cats are innately fastidious and pristine in regards to their self-care rituals. When asked to write a blog about smelly cats, my first thought was, short of a dirty litter box, I usually consider cats to be sweet smelling and worthy of burrowing my face into their luxurious pelt. Bee, my Siamese cat and the apple of my eye, often surrenders to my tender and loving kiss at the outer corner of each of her brilliant blue peepers. Sweetness abounds in the kitty world, and I had to dig deep to unearth an explanation for odorous kitties. It is commonly understood that causes of stench are linked to poor diet and/or illness. This holds true in many cases: if your cat is smelly, there is most certainly a reason, and those reasons can range from mundane to bizarre or astoundingly gross, as in this case of Atticus and his glistening crown…
The second time I was called to Atticus’ house to take a look at the abscess on the crown of his gorgeous, glistening feline head, I was so perplexed. I had seen him two weeks before for the obvious, stinky bulge at the top of his head. Oh yah, this abscess was a doozie and attested to his diligence as ‘the’ crowning dude of the neighborhood. His person, Sarah, and I had tapped into the putrid motherlode, flushed it out and put him on a round of amoxicillin. Case closed…or so I thought.
In taking a closer look, the cause of my necessary return seemed obvious. There must have been something I had not been able to flush out, which was the cause of prolonged infection. We reopened the wound area and proceeded to flush yet again. Pus and other material came filtering out. Still, I felt that I was missing something. When in doubt, squeeze it out! On my third pinch, yee haw! … a cat’s large canine tooth popped out!
You may be faced with a feline that is a bit off in the odor department and there is not merely a piece of fish caught between her teeth. In most of these cases, foul feline smells are a sign that something may be seriously wrong. When this happens, pay attention to the exact nature of the odor and where on their body it’s coming from. Below are possible reasons your little purr factory is more pungent than normal.
Reasons Your Kitty Friend Can’t Escape the Stench
- Oral odor. It’s not necessarily abnormal for a cat to have a little odor in her mouth. Let’s face it, they do eat some pretty funky food. When it’s outside the norm, there can be various reasons for the stink such as periodontal disease, lymphocytic plasmacytic stomatitis, upper respiratory infections, oral cancers, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes or intestinal blockage.
- Food sourced stink. If you feed a fish based food, your cats’ feces will be fetid. Taking it one step further, this is where I will put in a plug for raw cat food. Felines that dine on natural food have virtually stinkless dung. Yessss!
- Litter box foulness. Bite the bullet. If you don’t scoop your kitty’s litter box daily and clean it in a timely fashion, you are asking for a stinky cat.
- Ear odor. Most feline ear infections also have odors associated with them. Yeast infections will smell musty, whereas bacterial infections can smell either putrid or sweet depending on the type of bacteria.
- Rear end stink. There are several reasons why your kitty might have a stinky tush. Anal glands are located adjacent to his rectum, and they can express secretions when a normal firm stool is passed. These secretions leave a powerful territorial scent which acts as a form of communication to other cats. If a cat has a softer stool, his anal glands will not be expressed normally, creating a pungent rear end. Cats that can’t groom themselves normally may have a messy bum. Arthritis, obesity, diarrhea, urinary tract infections or a systemic disease are some common reasons for their inability to pay their normal, fastidious attention to clean-up.
- Skin stench. Skin infections often develop as a result of other, underlying health problems such as wounds, allergies, parasites, cancer, and immune disorders… basically, anything that disrupts the skin’s normal protective mechanisms.
Our lovely feline friends normally devote up to fifteen percent of their day grooming themselves. If your furry beauty seems a bit over-ripe, and you find yourself avoiding your normal love-fests, then it’s time to dig a bit deeper and address this issue. Sweeten up your household…and your kitty! Don’t hesitate to ask advice from your veterinarian.
P.S. – This fun little jingle, Smelly Cat, was the inspiration for this week’s blog post. Here is the video for you to enjoy! 🙂
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville’s holistic vet offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
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