Why Does My Cat Smell Like Urine?

cat territory
(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)
If you have a cat, then you know that they are generally clean animals. They like a clean environment as much as anybody else. That is why they usually bury their pee and feces once they are done in the litter box.
You also know that cats lick themselves thoroughly throughout the day to get rid of the dirt and unpleasant smells.
If you notice that your cat smells like urine, it could mean that there is something wrong. Cats lick themselves to hide their scent. This behavior is instinctual since they are predators. In the wild, they need to camouflage themselves to be a successful hunter .
Today, I’ll share what you should do if you notice that your cat smells like cat urine and what causes it.

Smell of Cat Urine

As you already know, cat pee tends to smell pretty bad. According to science, urine doesn’t generally smell. Urine tends to smell once it starts to decay, even though sometimes it can smell right off the bat. If you notice the smell of cat pee in your home, your cat has probably decided to urinate somewhere outside the litterbox.
Cats are known to pee on the carpets, furniture, blankets, and everywhere where there isn’t a hard slick surface. If you don’t notice on time that your cat has done his business in the corner of your favorite carpet, you will notice that the urine starts to decay.
The longer it stays soaked in your carpet, the worst the smell will be. If you don’t clean it up on time, the second stage of urine decay will begin. Once this stage begins, it leads to mercaptans, which are the exact same smell that skunks produce for self-defense.
Skunk smell if not something you want to have inside your home. It is extremely foul and aggressive. The longer the urine stays untouched, the more it will decay and the worst the smell will be.
If you notice that your house smells of cat urine, take some time and inspect your carpets, rugs, sofas and any places where your cat might have peed at. But what should you do if your cat smells like urine?

Indoor Cats

There is a big difference between indoor and outdoor cats. If you have a cat and if that cat is always inside your home but smells of urine there are a couple of things that might cause it.

First things first, does your cat have long hair? If that’s the case, the chances are that some the hair around your cat’s bottom has become matted. When that happens, your cat won’t be able to clean that area thoroughly. Sooner or later, you will notice that your cat emits that decaying urine smell.
Urine will stay trapped in the fur around the bottom, and you can solve that problem rather easily. You can take your cat to get a new haircut. Trimming the fur around that area will greatly reduce the chances of matting, and your cat will be clean and free of any foul urine stench.

Since indoor cats don’t get as much exercise as their outdoor friends, they also tend to eat a lot more. If you overfeed your cat, there is a great chance that you will end up with a fat kitty. If your cat packs on some extra weight, he will have a hard time reaching his behind to clean it.

If you notice that your cat has a hard time licking his belly and hind legs, he probably can’t reach his behind. You should control your cat’s diet and make sure that he gets enough exercise every day. Playing with your cat every day for an hour usually does the trick.

In addition to being overweight and too hairy, cats can emit the smell of urine because of the urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria that usually makes the cat urine smell foul. Also, if you notice that your cat pees more frequently, it is a good sign that infection might be causing all of the problems.


Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cats are a completely different story. Especially if they are not spayed or neutered. Cats are territorial animals, and they love to have something they can consider their own. Especially territory and mating partners. If some other cat wanders into a territory of your cat, chances are they will engage in a fight.

When cats fight for territory or mating rights, the winner usually sprays the loser with urine. We are talking about male cats, of course. If your cat returns home and smells like urine, he probably lost a fight for territory or a female friend.


You can easily avoid that problem by spaying or neutering your cat. Spaying and neutering eliminate the urge for mating which eliminates the need of territory, and that means your cat won’t engage in fights anymore.

Serious medical problems

Also, we need to talk about some more serious medical problems that might cause your cat to smell of urine. One of those conditions is arthritis. Arthritis is not that uncommon to appear once the cat becomes older. Arthritis can limit your cat’s movement, and it can make peeing more difficult.

Steps to get rid of cat pee smell

What should you do?

The first thing you could do is to check your cat’s behind and see if there’s some tangled hair that needs trimming. If your cat likes to sneak outside at night to mark his territory then spaying or neutering might be another option.


The best thing you can do though is to take him to the vet and have him checked out. I hope this has helped you on your quest to find out the reason why your cat doesn’t smell the best.


  • Cheryl Parlak says:

    I have a female cat that is big and cant get to her back to wipe her self.

    I just noticed that she smalls like she has some urine on herself. I tried to wipe her\down.and I still smell the urine on her.

    Is there anything that is safe to use on my cat. I don’t what to get her sick. Because she isnt that good when I wipe her down.

    If you can send me something I could can you give me some Ideas?

    Cheryl Parlak sheba13931b@gmail.com

  • Joan Crites says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I have the exact same issue you have with one of my overweight kitties. She does not have an infection, but the urine smell sticks to her fur after she pees because she cannot clean herself back there. I have tried everything I can possibly think of , from shampoo, baby wipes , baking soda on a wash rag , you name it , and I still cannot get all of the smell out I wish I could help you , but if you wouldn’t mind letting me know if you do find out a solution that works, I would really appreciate it! Thank you & best of luck .

  • Helene says:

    Hi the past 3 weeks my cat 2 half years old male been. Peeing on his blanket on the couch. He was check by vet no UTI. Hes lap cat still when he gets off of me my clothes smell urine but clothes are dry. But can smell urine whats causing this litter box chg frequently.

  • Emily says:

    My neutered female cat smells of urine from head to mid section, only noticed the smell yesterday afternoon when she came back in from outside (doesnt live out but does go out for little periods during the day) could it be possible she was sprayed? She is very teritorial and doesnt like other cats in the garden so does chase them off and fight them sometimes. There is also a few un neutered males in the area

  • 2cairnterriers says:

    hi ladies! i also have an overweight female cat who lately has not been as fastidious about cleaning her lower darby… a good friend of mine is a vet and specializes in cats (great for me as i have 8 of them!), and she said that cleaning the area is not enough! she really needs to be seen by a vet for several reasons–overweight cats often have diabetes and need to be medicated just like humans (i had a diabetic cat before, and i had to give him insulin shots 2x a day), AND the urine building up on her fur in that area can cause “burning” and an infection that needs antibiotics. besides that, the vet can offer a plan for weight loss so the issue may be ultimately resolved.

  • Libby says:

    We recently had a kitten over to babysit, and after the two met and didn’t get along, my cat Skippy smelled like pee very strongly behind his ears. I’m wondering if this is just a territorial thing. Both of the cats are spayed and neutered.

  • Sandy says:

    I inherited a spayed slightly fat cat ( she has a little hanging tummy). After she has used her litter box she sells awful. I wipe her down and this improves the smell. She is rather lazy and I suspect she does not groom herself well. I spray a little citronella oil (mixed) with water on her litter and this also improved her smell. She is well, purrs and she asks to drink water from the tap.

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