A closer look: Foul Odor from the Skin in Cats
Foul odor from the skin is rare in cats.
Generally, it does not indicate an emergency and is most commonly associated with a lack of effective treatment for skin diseases.
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The main variation in the symptom is the location. Generalized malodor, emanating from every part of the skin, usually indicates bacterial or fungal dermatitis. Localized foul odor, especially from the ears or the anal glands, is associated with specific conditions such as obstipation, abscesses, and certain infections.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis of foul odor involves a thorough investigation of the skin to identify the underlying cause. Diagnostics include:
- Physical examination
- Skin cytology
- Skin biopsy
- Bacterial or fungal culture
Treatment varies according to the underlying condition. Depending on the cause, treatment may include:
- Antibiotics or antifungal medications
- Allergy medications
- Topical grooming products, such as shampoos and - conditioners
- Surgical intervention or wound treatment
Sometimes the source of foul odor is something stuck in the fur. Further investigation of the skin may help identify the source, and bathing the cat may resolve symptoms. If foul odor is due to a skin condition, it does not go away after a bath.
It is sometimes difficult to localize the origin of the smell. Foul odor originating from tooth decay, fecal obstipation, and feces stuck in the fur around the anus may seem to affect the entire skin surface, despite the smell coming from a localized source.