Why Do Cats Smell Better than Dogs?

After a few days of a good bath, dogs start to smell as they are while cats seem to be odorless in comparison and yet they don’t bathe as often. This lies on the cat’s hygiene.

Cats have a coat of dry fur which makes it easier to maintain and keep odorless whereas dogs have oily fur which picks up more scent when not groomed.

For the rest of this article, we are going to discuss what makes cats smell better than dogs and how they do it.

Why Do Cats Smell Good and Dogs Don’t?

Cats groom themselves and lick their fur clean regularly compared to dogs. They lick their paws to transfer the saliva on it and then rub it all over its body, spreading the oils evenly. This also has to do with a cat’s dry fur which helps with keeping a faint odor.

Dogs, on the other hand, have oily fur. They don’t groom themselves as regularly as cats do, and with the buildup of oil on their fur, it produces that dog smell that owners are familiar with. For dogs, these oils keep them more easily protected when wet.

Why Does My Cat Smell So Nice?

Aside from grooming behavior, they lay around on fabrics that are freshly washed or that smell good, a scent that clings. Your perfume also leaves a scent on your cat whenever you cuddle it.

SPCA states that cats spend 5 hours daily grooming themselves to keep their scent at a minimum. In the wild, having little to no odors meant a higher chance of survival.

Read: Where Can to Declaw Cat for Free?

Why Does My Cat Smell Bad?

When you know and see how much your cat grooms itself almost obsessively every day, a bad smell is a cause for concern. First, you must know where the smell is coming from.

  • Bad breath. Buildup of tartar and plaque causes mouth odor. Sweet breath is characteristic of diabetes. Odor that smells like feces points to something it has eaten or liver disease.
  • Ear infection. When the smell comes from the ears, check for bacterial infection or mite infestation.
  • Skin condition. A skin emitting foul odor is a sign of an underlying health condition. It could also be from an infected wound inflicted by another animal.

A more subtle bad odor could come from a small patch of fecal matter on your cat’s fur. If your cat likes to go outside and comes back when it likes, it could have carried the scent of the place it has gone to.

Read: Why Having a Cat Helps You Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Can I Put Perfume on My Cat?

There are 200 million cells in your cat’s nose which make it a million times more sensitive than our human nose which houses a measly 5 million. Although your perfume may smell subtle to you, your cat is highly sensitive to the odor.

Cat can’t process the chemical Phenol in its body when inhaled. Phenol is used in most household products such as disinfectants, mouthwash, and perfume. They can develop Phenol Poisoning when exposed too much to these products.

Do Cats Have a Natural Odor?

Each cat is unique on its own even by their natural odor. Although cats don’t permeate a strong scent, they still produce certain odors from their glands and you aren’t even aware of it. A lot of pet owners don’t even realize that there’s a certain smell of cats in their homes when guests come over.

Cats have various scent glands located all over their body, from ear to paw, that makes them smell the way they do. They produce pheromones to convey specific messages such as marking territory, marking a member of their group, and conveying stress.

When scared, kittens excrete an unpleasant smell from their anal glands. When they rub their cheek all over you, they are mixing their scent with yours to form a certain scent specific to their group or colony, and this is how they recognize you by smell.

Read: Why Do People Love Their Bengal Cats So Much?

How Long Does a Cat’s Scent Stay in a House?

You don’t realize most of the time that your house starts to smell like your cats especially when guests start pointing it out. It doesn’t go away as long as your cat is around unless you take preventative measures so your house smells something more like you prefer.

The foul smell from cat urine and feces, on the other hand, lingers for a long time when not taken care of. This can come from uncleaned litter boxes and areas where your cat has urinated and defecated frequently.

How Do I Get Rid of Cat Smell?

Despite your cat’s best efforts of keeping itself clean and odor-free, you still detect a faint smell of cats all over the house or specific areas. Here are some things you can do:

  • For subtle odor, invest in an all-natural air freshener that’s friendly to your cat’s sensitive nose.
  • Wash and replace furniture covering and bedding that your cat loves to sleep on once every two weeks.
  • For pungent areas, mix one-part vinegar and one-part water in a spray bottle or a bowl. You can soak a rag or an old shirt in it and apply it to the area to get rid of the smell.
  • Try an enzymatic cleaner. Follow the instructions on the bottle and make sure to read the warning label as some contain ingredients that aren’t meant for hardwood floors and furniture.

Read: What Makes Bengal Cats So Special?

Do Male Cats Smell Worse than Females?

Male cats are distinguishably noticeable by scent. The presence of pheromones in their system has something to do with this.

In cat urine, Felinine is a pheromone present in both male and female cats but males excrete more of it to attract mates and establish territory.  When your cat is neutered, this smell is reduced.

Do Female Cats Give Off a Scent?

Whereas male cats produce higher amounts of pheromones and thus cause them to smell a certain way, female cats release pheromones from the glands on their back end to signal sexual viability, stress, or fear. To tomcats, there is a scent associated with female cats that they are ready for mating.

To us humans, cat pheromones cannot affect us in any way. If you think your female cat is smelling differently than she used to, locate which part of her body is producing the smell. A bad odor can indicate an underlying health condition that can only be verified by your veterinarian.

Read: The Role of a Scratching Post in Maintaining Your Cat’s Nails and Claw Health

How Can I Make My Cat Smell Better without a Bath?

There are many factors affecting your cat’s smell. These include the quality of food it’s eating, state of health, and cleanliness of the litter box. Here’s what you can do about it:

  • Mix water with fragrant herbs. You can use thyme, rosemary, and lavender for this solution. Soak the herbs in water and use a dry cloth or even alcohol-free and pet-friendly wipes to rub all over your cat’s fur and have them smelling fresh and good.
  • Clean the litterbox regularly. Scoop out chunks of urine absorbed by the litter once or twice a day. The smell of urine lingers and can also cling to your cat’s fur if it’s not frequently cleaned.
  • Use dry shampoo. Pour it over your cat’s fur and make sure it sets to the skin as it absorbs the sebum buildup which also causes odor in your cat.
  • Invest in a good diet. Veterinarians recommend sticking to a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet for your cat as they are carnivorous.


Pet owners wonder what makes their cats smell better than dogs, it’s because cats spend most of their waking hours grooming themselves, and with a dry fur it helps with keeping their odor minimized. Brushing their fur daily also helps with distributing the oil produced from their body.