Why Does Cat Food Smell So Bad? (Explained)

why does cat food smell so bad

Have you ever opened a can of cat food and recoiled at the smell? It’s a common experience for cat owners. The smell of cat food can be pretty off-putting, but it’s a necessary evil for the health and well-being of our feline friends. But why does cat food smell so bad?

The answer lies in the ingredients and the manufacturing process. By understanding these factors, we can better appreciate the necessity of the scent and even find ways to mitigate it.

What is Cat Food Made Of?

Common Ingredients in Cat Food

Cat food, whether wet or dry, contains a variety of ingredients. The primary component is usually a source of animal protein, such as chicken, beef, or fish.

This is supplemented with grains or vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes additives for preservation or taste enhancement.

Different cat food brands, like Friskies, use various ingredients in their products. You can learn more about specific brands in our article on why Friskies was out of stock.

The Role of Protein in Cat Food

Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring a diet high in animal protein. Protein is essential for their growth, maintenance, and overall health.

The high protein content, particularly from animal sources, contributes significantly to the strong smell of cat food.

cat paw divider

Why Does Cat Food Smell So Bad?

The Role of Protein and Fats

Proteins and fats, especially those derived from fish, have a naturally pungent smell. The odour can become even more potent when these ingredients are processed and canned for cat food.

This is because the heating process used in manufacturing can intensify the natural odors of these ingredients.

The Process of Manufacturing Cat Food

The manufacturing process of cat food involves grinding the ingredients, cooking them, and then canning or packaging them.

During the cooking process, the proteins and fats in the food undergo chemical changes, which can result in intense, often unpleasant, smells.

This is similar to how cooking certain foods at home, like fish or vegetables, can fill your kitchen with a strong smell.

The Use of Additives and Preservatives

Additives and preservatives are often used in cat food to enhance its taste, texture, and shelf life.

Some of these additives can contribute to the strong smell of cat food. For example, fish oil, often added for its omega-3 fatty acids, smells powerful.

In conclusion, the smell of cat food primarily results from its high protein content, the manufacturing process, and the additives used.

While it might be unpleasant for us, it’s important to remember that cats have a different sense of smell and taste than humans. What smells terrible to us might be very appealing to them.

cat paw divider

How Cats Perceive the Smell of Their Food

The Importance of Smell for Cats

cat eating wet food

Cats have a highly developed sense of smell, crucial in their behavior and interaction with the world.

Their sense of smell is used for various purposes, such as recognizing territory, identifying other animals, and detecting food.

The strong smell of cat food is a positive feature for cats, as it stimulates their appetite and makes the food more appealing.

The type of food cats can affect their digestion and waste, which we discuss in our article on understanding the risks of cat poop.

Cats’ Preference for Strong-Smelling Food

Cats are naturally attracted to strong-smelling food. This is a survival instinct, as a strong smell often indicates fresh prey in the wild.

Therefore, the strong smell of cat food, which seems unpleasant to us, is appealing to cats.

It’s also worth noting that cats have fewer taste buds than humans, so the smell of the food plays a more significant role in their enjoyment of it.

cat paw divider

The Effect of Cat Food Smell on Humans

Why Humans Find Cat Food Smell Unpleasant

Unlike cats, humans often find the smell of cat food unpleasant. This is mainly due to our different senses of smell and taste.

We are not carnivores like cats, so cat food’s strong, meaty smell can be off-putting.

Additionally, the processing and additives used in cat food can contribute to the strong smell, which is not typically found in our foods.

Health Implications for Humans

While the smell of cat food can be unpleasant, it’s generally not harmful to humans.

However, if the smell is particularly strong or foul, it could indicate that the food is spoiled and should not be given to your cat.

Spoiled cat food can contain harmful bacteria that could cause illness in cats and humans.

cat paw divider

How to Mitigate the Smell of Cat Food

Proper Storage of Cat Food

automatic proper cat food storage

Proper storage is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the smell of cat food. Cat food should be stored in a cool, dry place and sealed tightly when unused.

Wet cat food, once opened, should be covered and refrigerated, and used within a few days. 

Cleaning Tips for Cat Food Bowls and Containers

Regularly cleaning your cat’s food bowls and containers can also help control the smell.

Leftover food particles can contribute to the smell and can also attract pests. Bowls should be cleaned daily, and containers should be cleaned whenever they are refilled.

Choosing Less Odorous Cat Food Options

Finally, if your current cat food smells too much to handle, consider switching to a less odorous option.

Some brands and types of cat food have a milder smell than others. However, ensuring that any new food you choose still meets your cat’s nutritional needs is essential.

While considering less odorous options, you might also wonder about other food alternatives for your cat, such as whether cats can eat applesauce or other human foods.

cat paw divider

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does wet cat food smell worse than dry cat food?

open can wet food

Wet cat food typically has a stronger smell than dry cat food. This is primarily because wet food has a higher moisture content, which can intensify the smell of its ingredients.

Additionally, wet food is often richer in protein and fats, which are the main contributors to the strong smell of cat food.

It’s also worth noting that wet food smells more noticeable as soon as the can or the pouch is opened, whereas dry food releases its smell more slowly.

Can the smell of cat food make humans sick?

Generally, the smell of cat food does not pose any health risks to humans. However, if the smell is particularly strong, foul, or unusual, it could indicate that the food is spoiled.

Consuming or handling spoiled food can lead to foodborne illnesses. If you suspect your cat’s food is spoiled, it’s best to dispose of it and clean any containers or utensils that came into contact with it.

How can I make my cat’s food smell less?

There are a few strategies you can use to make your cat’s food smell less:

  • Proper Storage: Store cat food in a cool, dry place and seal it tightly when not in use. Wet cat food, once opened, should be covered and refrigerated, and used within a few days. Proper storage can help prevent the food from spoiling and developing a foul smell.
  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean your cat’s food bowls and containers to remove leftover food particles that can contribute to the smell.
  • Choosing Less Odorous Options: Consider switching to a less odorous cat food if your current choice smells too much to handle. Some brands and types of cat food have a milder smell than others. However, ensure that your new food meets your cat’s nutritional needs.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *