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How Badly Do Sphynx Cats Smell? 6 Potential Causes & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

sphynx cat in wooden cat tree

Sphynx cats are famous for their hairless appearance, wrinkled face, and huge ears. They are also rumored to be smelly. But is this true? And if yes, exactly how bad do they smell?

Cats are excellent at grooming themselves. Therefore, it is unlikely that foul odor could emanate from their body. Still, some cat owners claim their Sphinx cats emit distinct smells. These often vary depending on who you ask, but most mimic certain natural odors like the smell of mushrooms, cheese, Fritos, bread, dirty feet, raw potato, and sweat.

However, none of these smells are bad enough to reconsider getting a Sphynx cat. With that said, any cat can have a foul odor. Not only are Sphynx cats not exempt, but they are also more susceptible. We explore why this is the case below and offer tips on preventing it.

Let’s dive in.

Why Sphynx Cats Smell

Cats are not supposed to have strong odors. So, it is a cause of concern if you detect a lousy odor emanating from your cat. The best way to know what could be causing your cat to smell bad is to identify the odor’s nature and where it emanates from.

The reasons could include the following:

1. Hygiene

Generally, cats are clean since they do an excellent job grooming themselves. However, Sphynx cats have unique grooming needs because their lack of fur means they cannot absorb their natural skin oil. These cats don’t produce as much body oil as other felines.

Nevertheless, the little they secrete accumulates on the skin over time.

This breed requires more frequent grooming compared to other cats. Otherwise, the oil can pick up dust, dirt, bacteria, and other debris, leading to body odors.

2. Skin Infections

Skin infections can also cause a foul odor in your Sphynx cat. The lack of fur makes its skin more susceptible to injuries, sunburns, colds, and other underlying issues that could make it vulnerable to infections.

Skin infections often result in unpleasant odors. However, some can emit sweet odors. For instance, people describe some yeast infections as sweet-smelling.

Canadian Sphynx having food allergies
Image Credit: Piskova Photo, Shutterstock

3. Dental Issues

Cats also experience mouth issues such as tooth decay, gum infections, and oral tumors. Therefore, the smell in your Sphynx cat could also result from bad breath.

Sometimes the bad breath emanating from the cat’s mouth is caused by other diseases. For instance, Diabetes mellitus can cause your cat’s breath to smell sweet or fruity. Also, a cat with urine or ammonia breath could have kidney disease.

The stink from the mouth can spread to other body parts through the saliva as the cat grooms itself, causing them to smell too.

4. Ear Problems

The foul odor could emanate from your cat’s ears if it has a bacterial infection, yeast infection, or mite infestation.

Ear infections can result from allergies, tumors, polyps, aggressive cleaning, skin disorders, cancer, etc. A mite infestation occurs when your cat has close contact with other infested animals.

Yeast infections usually cause a musty smell, while the scent of bacterial infections can be unpleasant or sweet, depending on the specific bacteria. The dark material in cats with a mite infestation may also have a bad smell.

sphynx cat ears check by vet
Image Credit: santypan, Shutterstock

5. Rear End Problems

Sphynx cats are excellent at grooming themselves. And it’s nearly impossible to smell urine or feces from their rear end unless they just left the litter box. However, some illnesses, such as obesity and arthritis, can make self-grooming challenging.

Also, diarrhea can lead to the accumulation of fecal material on your cat’s rear end, causing a foul odor. The problem could be worse for long-haired cats. If there’s a strong urine smell, you could be dealing with a case of urinary tract infection.

6. Poor Diet

Nutrition is essential for the health and development of your cat. Lack of a proper diet can lead to health issues that can cause your Sphynx cat to smell. These include digestive problems, ear infections, allergies, and skin problems.

For instance, allergy or food intolerance can lead to bloating or gas, resulting in foul odors. Also, your cat could excrete or vomit foul-smelling content.

Additionally, research has shown that certain foods can cause kidney failure. That can lead to foul odors since the kidney filters toxins from the body.

sphynx eating
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

How to Get Rid of Foul Cat Odors

No one likes a smelly cat, and this can make bonding a challenge. Luckily, there are several measures you can take to prevent or stop your sphynx cat from smelling. The following are some of them.

Clean Your Cat Regularly

Sphynx cats are excellent groomers. Nevertheless, they need help once in a while. The absence of fur leads to the accumulation of natural oils on the skin, which could attract dirt, bacteria, and other debris.

Dirt and bacteria could also accumulate in areas your Sphynx cat can’t reach, like under the small folds on its skin. Hence, your assistance and supervision are needed.

You can clean your Sphynx cat by wiping its body with a damp cloth. But running water is recommended since it will wash all the filth away. You can try a tub or sink, but most cats won’t go underwater willingly.

Other tips to consider when bathing your sphynx cat include:

  • Use warm water to break down the oils easily
  • Use pet-friendly shampoo to avoid irritating your cat’s skin
  • Rinse all the lather thoroughly
  • Dry your cat completely to prevent cold
  • Avoid your cat’s face, eyes, and ears
  • Offer treats to avoid struggles in future

Bathing your cat is effort wasted if you don’t clean their environment. That includes its beddings and other surfaces to which it might have spread the foul smell.

hairless sphynx cat getting washed bath
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Feed Your Cat a Healthy and Balanced Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores and require a high-protein diet with moderate fats and low carbohydrates. Such a healthy and balanced diet will promote your cat’s health and development. It will help keep diseases that often lead to foul odor at bay.

Remember, Sphynx cats have one of the most sensitive digestive systems. So, you might want to avoid foods with poor ingredients. They can cause food intolerance, resulting in diarrhea and smelly poop. Also, fillers and artificial preservatives can cause kidney failure, resulting in a foul odor.

Knowing the foods that your cat might be allergic to is also imperative. Food allergies can cause skin problems, such as itching, redness, or inflammation, that could lead to foul-smelling bacterial and yeast infections.

Don’t Neglect the Cat’s Dental Hygiene

Brushing your cat’s teeth at least twice a week is advisable to avoid problems such as tartar build-up, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Otherwise, bacteria could accumulate in the mouth, resulting in bad breath.

Ensure you use cat-friendly toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that could cause digestive issues and stomach upsets, aggravating the problem instead of fixing it.

Additionally, you should schedule a veterinary appointment at least once a year. Visiting a vet will ensure you stay ahead of potential diseases and infections.

sphynx cat teeth check by vet
Image Credit: Evgeniy Kalinovskiy, Shutterstock

Clean Your Cat’s Ears Regularly

No matter how good your cat is at grooming, it can’t thoroughly clean its ears. Therefore, you shouldn’t forget to clean them.

Remember, Sphynx cats don’t have hair in their ears. So naturally, they will have more earwax than other cat breeds. That means dirt, dust, oils, and other debris will quickly accumulate, leading to bacterial infections.

Cleaning your Sphynx cat’s ears at least once a week is advisable. Cotton swabs and a good quality ear cleaner will do the trick. Consider formulas with antibacterial and antifungal ingredients to prevent infections.

Visit the Vet Regularly

Visiting a veterinarian is crucial, especially if you suspect the foul odor results from an underlying health condition. The vet will screen your Sphynx cat for problems such as skin infections, oral diseases, swollen anal glands, and kidney issues.

Of course, you shouldn’t wait until your cat gets sick to visit the vet. Annual checkups are advisable to nip health problems in the bud.

sphynx cat vet check up
Image Credit: Irina Vasilevskaia, Shutterstock


A Sphynx cat’s lack of fur makes it more susceptible to foul odors. The natural oils it secretes tend to accumulate on the body, attracting dirt and bacteria.

However, maintaining proper hygiene can ensure your furry friend always smells fresh and clean. That means cleaning it regularly, preferably once a week. You should also brush the cat’s teeth and clean its ears regularly.

Also, a healthy and balanced diet is essential for avoiding diseases that could cause foul odors. If the odor persists, it is imperative to visit a veterinarian for screening. An underlying health condition may be causing the smell.

Featured Image Credit: everytime, Shutterstock

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