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Tired of litter box odor? You’ll be glad to know you can change the smell of your cat’s litter box by changing what you put in his bowl. After hours of studying the relationship between feline food and feces, we’ve identified the qualities of the best cat food for a healthier gut and less odor.
The best cat food for smelly poop is easy to digest and free of ingredients that could trigger a food allergy or cause digestive upset. Its ingredients are high-quality and species-appropriate, with items like muscle meat, organs, and animal-derived fat making up most of the recipe.
At a Glance: Best Cat Food for Smelly Poop To Buy
Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
- Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat
- Very low carbohydrate content, under 10%
- Made with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients
- Contains over 45% dry matter protein
- Free from hard-to-digest peas and legumes
- Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Made with a single source of animal protein
- Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
- Very short list of ingredients, highly digestible
- Relies primarily on animal-sourced protein and fat
- Very low carbohydrate content, under 10% dry matter
- Doesn’t contain peas, lentils, or legumes
- Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
- Short list of simple, digestible ingredients
- Very low in carbohydrates
- May be a good option for overweight cats
- Made with a single source of novel animal protein
- Species-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and bone
- Herring oil provides animal-sourced omega-3s
Why Should You Trust Us?
We’ve reviewed over 200 of the world’s most popular cat food brands and hundreds of different formulas. We’ve spent hours researching, contacting pet food companies, analyzing labels, and reading customer reviews. With the help of our cats, we also got hands-on experience with most of these foods.
Finally, we consulted 7 veterinarians to get their professional opinion on what makes a great cat food.
Our Veterinary Advisors
- Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
- Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH
- Sarah Reidenbach, DVM
- Chyrle Bonk, DVM
- Jamie Whittenburg, DVM
- Albert Ahn, DVM
- Elizabeth Youens, DVM
How We Tested
We personally purchased and tested the products on this list. The entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
When researching cat food, we analyze the information on the label including the guaranteed analysis, list of ingredients, and life stage designation. We also consult customer reviews for insight regarding reformulations or issues with product quality and check for product recalls.
During our in-depth testing, we make observations about the product’s appearance, texture, consistency, smell, and packaging. We also feed the food to our cats to get their opinion regarding palatability and general appeal.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples of several recipes for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.
Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.
What Are the Qualities of the Best Cat Food for Smelly Poop?
Changes inside the litter box are often a first-line indicator of underlying health issues. If your cat’s feces has changed in odor, appearance, frequency, or volume, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to rule out infections and other health problems.
Once you and your veterinarian have established that diet is the solution to your cat’s smelly poop, prioritize two things: simplicity and efficiency.
All poop smells, but it smells worse when there’s more to it—more sulfur, more bacteria, and more digestive by-products. Time also plays a part. Foods that take longer to digest spend more time in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, giving digestive gases more time to build up and make your cat’s litter box session all the smellier.
By keeping things simple, the best cat food for smelly poop minimizes the amount of work your cat’s body does to process his food, making digestion more efficient.
The best cat food for smelly poop exhibits the following qualities:
It is rich in species-appropriate animal protein.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they’ve evolved to follow a meat-based diet. Their digestive tracts are very short because they’re designed to process highly-digestible raw prey – there’s little need for the fermenting bacteria required to digest plant matter.
Species-appropriate food for cats is formulated around animal products like poultry, meat, and fish. Animal-based protein should top the ingredient list, ideally balanced with animal-sourced fat.
The lower the carbohydrate content of your cat’s food, the better. A whole-prey diet for cats contains less than 10% dry matter carbohydrate.
It contains a short list of highly digestible ingredients.
The more ingredients a cat food contains, the more work it is for your cat’s body to digest. A short list of species-appropriate ingredients ensures optimal digestion with less waste, and therefore less odor.
Again, animal ingredients are the most digestible for your cat. Avoid starchy carbohydrates that add bulk to the product without supplying much nutritional value. Peas, lentils, and other legumes should be avoided as well because they contain high levels of lectins and phytates.
Lectins are plant proteins which, when consumed in large quantities, can contribute to gastrointestinal distress. Phytates play a role in leeching essential minerals like calcium and iron from your cat’s body.
It contains plenty of hydrating moisture.
Wild cats get most of their water from prey, so they don’t have high thirst drives. Unfortunately, domestic cats have inherited this trait and many cats don’t get the water they need for proper hydration.
Water is a key ingredient in both urine and feces, and it’s necessary to remove waste products from the body. When your cat isn’t properly hydrated, it can lead to constipation and other health issues. High-moisture cat food helps support your cat’s digestion and may reduce litter box odor.
It is free from allergenic and irritating ingredients.
In addition to other symptoms, food allergies may cause flatulence and smelly stool. The most common food allergies in cats are caused by proteins, primarily chicken, fish, or beef. Other less common cat food allergies include wheat, corn, and soy.
True food allergies are fairly uncommon in cats, and they often manifest with skin-related symptoms like itchy skin and hair loss. If your cat is diagnosed with a food allergy, it’s imperative that you identify the allergen and adjust your cat’s diet to avoid it.
In many cases, switching to a limited ingredient diet made with a single, novel source of protein does the trick. A novel protein is simply one your cat hasn’t eaten before.
Most adult cats are lactose-intolerant, so it’s wise to avoid cat foods that contain dairy as well. Dairy products have the potential to cause digestive distress, flatulence, and smelly poop. Avoid giving your cat cow’s milk as a treat and pass up foods that contain it.
The Best Cat Foods for Smelly Poop: Our Top Picks
The following foods emphasize the qualities that we look for in the best cat food for smelly poop.
Remember—food isn’t always the solution. Sometimes more serious issues are at play.
Many times, simply changing out what your cat is eating can be enough to fix the smelly poop problem. But it’s a good idea to talk to your vet first to see if the problem is more severe than just a poor diet.
Other, more dangerous factors can contribute to seriously smelly poop:
- Spoiled food. If your cat eats something rotten—maybe something straight from the garbage—his poop might temporarily smell worse than usual.
- Tapeworms and other parasites. Intestinal parasites cause a variety of digestive issues, including severe fecal odor. Giardia, for example, is an intestinal parasite that causes a foul fecal odor.
- Digestive disorders. If your cat has a digestive disorder that impedes nutrient absorption, it can cause your cat’s poop to smell foul.
- Drugs. Antibiotics and certain other drugs can contribute to severe fecal odor.
- Infections. Certain types of infections can cause similar digestive issues, including smelly poop.
Bacterial infections from E.coli and Salmonella cause inflammation, leading to diarrhea and gas, both of which can have an unusually intense odor.
If increased litter box odor is a new problem and you haven’t recently made any changes to your cat’s diet, talk to your veterinarian to determine whether an underlying health problem might be at play.
Ask a VetIf your cat is exhibiting labored, rapid, or noisy breathing, you’ll need an expert to help you identify what’s going on and how to fix it. If you can’t bring your cat to a veterinarian right now you may want to contact a vet on JustAnswer. For between $10 and $100, this service allows you to connect one-on-one with a real veterinarian in real time. It’s one of the best ways to get personalized expert advice at a fraction of the cost of a vet visit.
Ask a Question
Your vet can help you determine what the cause of the smelly poop is and what you need to do to fix the problem. If your cat has had this issue for only a day or two, then it may not be something you need to concern yourself with, but if it persists or keeps coming back, then you will need to take action.
Often, a change of diet is all your cat needs to start feeling better and having better-smelling poop. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian about any major changes you are making to your cat’s lifestyle and diet, especially if your cat is being treated for a medical condition.
We hope that you can use the information here to get your cat healthy once more and to get rid of that foul poop smell.