Dealing With a Kitten With a Bad Odor

grey kitten

Since cats are fastidious creatures, a noxious smell coming from your kitten could be a sign of illness or injury. Several conditions can cause your kitten to have a bad odor. Possible causes range from minor to serious and may require a trip to the vet. Start your search for potential problems by determining where on your kitten the smell is coming from.


What to Look For

  • Bad breath
  • Teeth pushing up through the gums
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Drooling
  • Reluctance to eat

Possible Causes

According to vetSTREET, felines with foul-smelling breath should always be checked by a vet. In kittens, though, bad breath is usually caused by teething, which occurs between three weeks and six months of age. Less common causes in kittens include:

What to Do

Take your kitten to the vet for a checkup. Most likely, he is just teething. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, bad breath during this time is normal and will pass once your kitten finishes teething. However, your vet can look for more serious conditions such as periodontal disease and stomatitis which typically occur in older cats.

To prevent periodontal disease and related problems start brushing your kitten's teeth as soon as you bring him home. Regularly brushing his teeth will get him used to the process early. He should also have annual dental checkups to make sure his teeth and gums stay healthy.


What to Look For

  • Bad smell coming from the ears
  • Dark or yellowish waxy substance in the ears
  • Shaking the head
  • Scratching at the head or ears
  • Inflammation of the ear canal

According to the Drs. Foster and Smith, these are common signs of a yeast infection.

Possible Causes

  • Allergies
  • Moisture
  • Hormonal abnormalities

What to Do

Take your kitten to the vet. The vet will examine the discharge from your kitty's ears under a microscope to make a diagnosis. If the vet finds evidence of a yeast infection, she will likely give you drops or an ointment to apply to your kitten's ears at home. She may also recommend you clean your cat's ears before applying the medication. Your vet will also want to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the infection.

Depending on the cause, this condition tends to recur. Your vet may suggest a regimen of cleaning your kitten's ears at home to prevent repeat infections.


What to Look For

lethargic cat
  • Smelly pus oozing from the skin
  • Inflamed, reddened lumps under the skin
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Limping

Possible Cause

  • Abscess, which is a pocket of infection under the skin which typically results from a puncture wound such as a bite from another animal

What to Do

According to vetSTREET, a veterinarian will need to lance and drain the abscess. He will clean the wound and may prescribe antibiotic pills or give the kitten an antibiotic injection. He may also instruct you to clean the wound at home and apply an antibiotic ointment. Expect to make a follow-up visit, so the vet can ensure the wound is healing properly.

If the infection is left untreated, it can enter the bloodstream and may be fatal. Prompt medical attention is imperative.

If you have other pets at home, watch for any signs of aggressive behavior toward your kitten. You may need to isolate her for a while as the others adjust to a newcomer. Keeping your kitten inside is best, but if you must let her out, make sure she receives all her vaccinations and booster shots on schedule.


What to Look For

  • Feces stuck to the fur
  • Diarrhea or loose stools

What to Do

Diarrhea or loose stools are more likely to cling to the fur. To help your cat out, and get rid of the stench, rinse cotton balls or a soft washcloth with warm water. Gently wipe the fur until the area is clean. If you have a long-haired kitten, you may want to clip the fur around the anal area to make it easier for her to clean herself.

If your kitten has either diarrhea or loose stools for more than a day or two, she needs to be seen by a vet.


What to Look For

  • Long-term, smelly loose stools, sometimes with blood or mucus present
  • Swelling on either side of the anus
  • Scooting the bottom on the floor
  • Pain near the tail or when trying to sit

Possible Causes

  • Tritrichomonas foetus, which is a parasite frequently found in shelters and catteries
  • Anal sac disease

What to Do

According to PetMD, your vet will probably collect a fresh stool sample to examine for Tritrichomonas foetus. As an alternative, she may want to biopsy your kitten's colon.

The most effective known therapy for this parasite is a drug called ronidazole. Though not yet approved for use in cats in the United States, your veterinarian may still prescribe it. You or your vet can get ronidazole from a compounding pharmacy. Many of these, such as Diamondback Drugs of Scottsdale, Arizona, will ship your pet's medication anywhere in the United States.

Your kitten must be isolated from any other cats in the household while undergoing the two-week treatment since the parasite is easily passed to other cats sharing a litter box.

Anal sac disease begins when the ducts that empty the anal sacs become clogged when your kitten poops. The sacs can then become infected and may abscess. A vet can often squeeze the anal sacs manually. If the sacs are also infected, your vet will give your kitten antibiotics as well. However, if an abscess has developed, it must be cut and drained.

If problems persist despite these measures, your vet may want to remove the anal sacs surgically. However, this is a last resort because the surgery may result in complications like fecal incontinence.


What to Look For

Pets WebMD notes a little gas is normal, but excessive, foul-smelling gas can indicate a problem with your kitten's digestive system.

Possible Causes

gassy kitten
  • Parasites
  • Food allergies
  • Dairy products
  • Diet too high in wheat, corn, soybeans or fiber
  • Spoiled food
  • Eating too fast
  • Hairballs

What to Do

Again, consult with your vet about what may be causing your kitten's flatulence. It's possible you only have to change his diet to fix the problem. However, intestinal parasites are common in kittens. Your vet will probably collect a stool sample to examine for worms or other parasites. Other diagnostics may include blood work, urinalysis and abdominal X-rays.

The recommended treatment will depend on the cause. If the issue is parasites, your vet will prescribe medications in either pill or liquid form. Switching your kitten to a grain-free diet or eliminating dairy products may be in order. You may be advised to serve smaller, more frequent meals. A laxative such as Laxatone will help eliminate hairballs.

Stick with your vet's recommendations until the condition clears up. If it persists, plan a return visit for further testing.

Take your kitten to the vet right away if she also has these symptoms, which may indicate more serious problems:

  • Pain when you touch her belly
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Scooting across the floor
  • Bloody bowel movements

What Else You Should Know

When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. If your nose is telling you something is wrong with your kitten, let your vet sniff out the cause.

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Dealing With a Kitten With a Bad Odor