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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a 2 year old spayed domesticated longhaired cat. He is a pretty big boy, I’d say about 16 pounds. He was a big cat when I adopted him in September. I’ve had him eating Presidents Choice Weight and Hairball control cat food since I’ve had him. I feed him twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon, unless his bowl still has food in it. I feed him about two cups of food a day valued at 380 calories per cup. He is fairly active, my home has a lot of places where he likes to jump up to, and I play with him often in the day. He isn’t sluggish, and his weight doesn’t slow him down. I have noticed that he farts a lot, and they usually stink, and sometimes when he goes to the bathroom it stinks a lot too. I haven’t noticed a decrease in his weight, and nothing seems abnormal other than the smelly farting and smelly poop, but I’m still concerned. Is this normal? Should I be feeding him a different brand of food? And if so, what brand? 

~ Alex

Thomas: Well, Alex, in our experience, smelly poop and smelly farts are usually a sign that your cat’s food isn’t agreeing with him.

Bella: Typically, cats don’t fart, for one thing. And we have found that diet contributes a lot to bad-smelling stools and urine.

Tara: We would recommend trying a change in food to see if that helps. First, we’d suggest steering away from dry food. Cats are obligate carnivores–that means our bodies are designed to live on meat.

Thomas: We have very short intestinal tracts, like our wild relatives, and everything from the acid in our stomachs to the enzymes that are produced by our digestive organs are made for digesting meat.

Bella: Animals that are designed to eat grain, like goats and cows–and like human beings–have longer intestines that allow time for the grains to be fully digested before they come out as poop.

Tara: For that reason, we’d recommend that you switch to a canned food, preferably one that’s very low in “substitute carbohydrates” like sweet potatoes and peas.

Thomas: There are foods like this at all price points, so you don’t have to worry too much about not being able to afford it. Some of our favorites are WeRuVa and Tiki Cat.

Bella: But here’s the thing. Even foods like Fancy Feast classic are very low in carbohydrates. In fact, that’s what they fed me and the other diabetic cats when I lived in the shelter. Diabetic cats need a very low-carb diet, too.

Tara: So we think that a food switch will help with the smelly poop.

Thomas: But speaking of diabetes, we want to address the issue of your cat’s weight, too.

Bella: Obesity drastically increases the chance that your cat will develop diabetes, especially because he’s a male kitty.

Thomas: We did some research to see how many calories a 16-pound cat needs to either maintain his weight or lose weight.

Bella: It turns out he only needs about half the calories he’s getting!

Tara: That’s right. We visited the Feline Calorie Counter website and input your cat’s weight. It turns out that a 16-pound cat only needs 372 calories a day to stay at that weight. If you want him to lose weight, he should be getting 298 calories a day.

Thomas: Don’t feel bad. This is a very common mistake people make, and that’s why there are so many overweight kitties in the world.

Bella: So the first thing we’d recommend as far as the weight issue goes is that, if you keep him on the dry food, you only feed him a total of one cup per day. You might need to gradually taper the amount down so that he doesn’t meow and cry at you because he’s hungry.

Tara: Canned foods are more calorie-dense than dry foods, so you won’t need to feed him nearly as much to keep him full and happy.

Thomas: When we eat canned food, each of us gets about a third to half a can per feeding. We get fed twice a day, so that amounts to about one can total.

Bella: We’d recommend that you work with your vet to get your big guy on a weight loss plan. That’ll help him stay healthy and reduce his risk of getting diabetes, arthritis, or other illnesses associated with obesity.

Tara: And, of course, lots of exercise will help, too. Play with him every day using a “thing on a string” toy. Fifteen-minute sessions twice a day will be great.

Thomas: But you might have to get him started with five-minute sessions until he gets in shape. Basically, play with him until he’s panting.

Bella: It’s even better if you play with him before he eats, because that triggers a cat’s natural behavior: Hunt, kill, eat, sleep.

Tara: Getting his weight down may even help with the smelly poop issue. He’ll be able to clean himself better, which will help his butt smell better.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you had a cat with smelly poop? Have you had a fat cat, and how did you help him or her lose weight?

Bella: Did you change his diet? Did you play with him more?

Tara: Please share your own tips in the comments!