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Cats/Kitten odor (non-litter box)


QUESTION: I adopted 2 sister kittens a couple of weeks ago.  They are about 3 months
old now and got a clean bill of health from our vet last weekend.  They are not
yet spayed but will be returning to the shelter for that and their last vaccines
in a couple of weeks.  They seem happy and healthy and use their litter box.  
There were just a couple of accidents outside the box but in the same room
(a bathroom) but those have stopped (once I took the flap door off the
covered box so they weren't afraid to use it.)  I clean it daily for them, keep
their water clean and food full, etc.

My question is: my 7 1/2 month pregnant sister told me that my clothes
smell funny...she first said it was like I had used strange spices to cook (I
hadn't) but then decided it was more of a kitty smell...maybe like a urine but
not as strong.  I immediately washed all the clothes I had on that day and
asked her the next time if I smelled the same.  She said only faintly.  Today,
she said I smell again!  We both know pregnant women often have strong
senses of smell, but she so far hasn't developed any, so we aren't convinced
it's "just her"...I can't smell it or if I can, it is really hard for me to pick up
(and I actually have a very very keen sense of smell myself.)  At any rate, the
best we can figure is she's the only one brave enough to say anything to me!

Can you help explain?  Is it because they aren't spayed yet?  I know they
aren't peeing on's usually the clothes I wear that smell...when they've
been sleeping on my lap or walking on me, etc.  One thing I did notice is that
when I first got them and they hissed a lot and got all fuzzy when startled
(that still happens but not nearly as often) there was always a distinct smell
after they'd been startled...not a good or bad smell per se, just very distinct
and always associated with them being startled and hissing.  Could it be
something in their breath when they're scared?

Please help!  I've had many cats and kittens in the past and never noticed this
issue before.

Thank you thank you thank you!

this is a fascinating question as I've never been asked this before or not at least in these circumstances.
Cats generally do not have an odor like dogs so it is quite rare for a cats smell to be transferred to furnishing etc. All i can assume is that it is the urine and the fact that they are now coming into their sexual maturity stage. Urine smell does have a funny way of staying on clothes even when washed, it could be that their is still some of the odor on the clothes and as your body warms them up the scent is released. try putting the clothes in a sealed bag with some bicarbonate of soda for a day then wash them again.
I have never heard of a scent being given off when they hiss etc so i don't think this could be it.
All i can suggest is that you deodorize your clothes as i suggest and you could also sprinkle bicarb soda around on the carpets and furniture and then vacuum off just in case some odor has transferred it self to those. I would hope that once they have been sprayed that the urine odor would reduce as well.

Hope i have been of some help


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you so much for responding to my question.  I have couple of follow-
up questions, if you don't mind.

1) You said maybe the urine smell will lessen after spraying - I assume you
meant to say spaying??  They're due for that in a couple of weeks!  I hope that
helps, too!  None of the other cats I've had in the past needed that - they
were always "fixed" prior to my family getting them, as far as I can recall.

2) Is bicarbonate of soda the equivalent of baking soda, like Arm & Hammer
in the orange box, or is it something different?

3) If you're guessing it's the urine causing the smell, do you think it's just
lingering around them after they use the litter box?  I know they're not
actually peeing on me, and it's the clothes I wear when I'm around them that
smell the most.

4) When I washed the clothes, I actually used a powerful cleaning agent that
gets rid of most smells (I know cat urine is a particularly difficult smell, but
this stuff was given to me by a professional cleaner after I had a house fire,
and it got out fire and smoke smells that you wouldn't believe it could!)

5) If the soda treatments and spaying don't make it go away, do you have any
other advice for resources that may have more ideas on the subject?  I
actually admittedly haven't asked my vet yet, as I am trying to avoid any
additional expense if I can, but besides a vet, do you know anyone else that
may have additional knowledge?

I'm going to have to get brave and ask someone besides my sister if they
smell it, too...if you, a cat expert of sorts, has never heard of this and the cats
are both supposedly healthy, I'm still wondering if my sister's pregnancy
smeller isn't just kicking into high  : )

Thanks again for your help!  I really appreciate all the input.  I love these little
girls but I also don't want to go out in public smelling funny and not knowing
it or being able to do anything about it.


yes sorry i did mean spaying.
bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda
I would ask someone else as it is very unusual for cats to leave a smell around the house etc apart from their urine. It may simply be that your sister has heighten senses at the moment or strange things may be happening to her sense of smell (i have heard of this before).
Unfortunately i cannot recommend any other smell deodorizers, bicarbonate of soda is pretty good at neutralizing smells.

Sorry i couldn't be more help


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Kate Tilmouth


I can answer most day to day cat problems encountered by owners. I have a good understanding of cat behaviour and problems which may arise from changes to their daily routine. I can advise on cat training including litter training and general day to day cat care issues. I am not a vet and therefore cannot answer medical questions.


I run my own cat website at and have been a dedicated cat owner for over 20 years. I have encountered many different cat problems and situations and feel that i have a good understanding of cats and cat ownership.

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Educated to High School level and have since worked for many years in a customer support based environment, gaining vocational qualifications.

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