Skip to Content

Do Cats Release A Smell When They’re Scared – Is It Normal?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

You and your family just went through a big move to a new home, and you notice that there is something off about your feline friend. He is acting odd, and a strange odor seems to be emanating from him, but you cannot quite pinpoint what that smell is exactly. Where is this stench coming from? Is your cat ill? Do cats release a smell when they’re scared?

Cat’s can release a smell when they are scared. This is called feline pheromones which cats use to communicate. The fluid is released through the anal glands and can end up in their fur for long periods.

Now that you know where the smell is coming from, you have questions about what causes the pheromone secretion and how to help it. Let us talk about what pheromones are and how we can help our furry little friends!

Interested in checking out the best litter boxes for cats? You can find them by clicking here#ad

What exactly is a feline pheromone

Pheromones are a chemical that cats emit to send messages to other cats and the rest of the world. 

Cats have special glands all over their bodies, but this smelly aroma comes from their anal glands. Just like skunks, when cats are frightened, feeling territorial, or highly anxious, they will release a pheromone from their anal glands, presenting itself as an extremely off-putting fishy scent. 

This stress can be caused by several things such as a new pet being introduced, a big move to a new home, etc. Something as simple as a regular checkup to the vet can cause your furry friend to experience significant anxiety.

How long do pheromones last

Once the fluid is released from your cats’ anal glands, it can end up getting on the fur of your feline’s backside, causing the stench to remain active for a few hours. 

You can help by examining the rear end of your furry friend. If you notice it seems irritated, there are certain antibiotics or anti-inflammatories you can get from the veterinarian. Keeping the area clean is vital to the health and comfort of your cat. If you notice the area seems infected or notice an abscess, you should check with your veterinarian right away.

4 Steps to getting rid of cat pheromones and their stench

  1. Cleaning up cat spray before it stains is the first, most crucial step to making sure your cat does not continue to feel threatened and mark its territory.
  2. Using baking soda mixed with vinegar or enzyme-neutralizing cleaners is your best choice for cleaning up your furry friend’s stinky mess.
  3. Cleaning the area more than once may be required to eliminate the stench. If the mess is not thoroughly cleaned, your cat may feel the need to go back and mark it again for their protection or to mark their territory.
  4. Air the room out that the mess was made once you have cleaned the area to help eliminate the smell.

Are there such things as cat calming pheromones?

There are several tips for calming your pet after a traumatic experience. One tip to take note of would be to use synthetic pheromones during or after a stressful event for your feline companion. 

These pheromones mimic the calming and security pheromones of the feline’s cheeks. They help to calm anxious and stressed felines, reduce aggression in multi-cat homes, help prevent urine spraying from marking territory, scratching, and hiding. They can be found in sprays or diffusers.

Is there anything I can do to help prevent my cat from releasing this stench

You can do a few things to help your cat from smelling like the compost in your trash, such as a change in diet, preparing them for a change in environment or new pet, and if the problem persists: talking with your vet.


Ensuring your cat has a healthy, well-balanced diet is vital for digestive health. Grain-free food that includes a healthy dose of probiotics is a great start. Depending on your cat’s age, they may require different supplements in their diet. 

When looking for a high-quality food, also be sure to check for meat or meat meal as one of the top ingredients. Good cat food for digestive tracts will also include a supplement called yucca, which helps break down proteins that may cause odor and build up in their anal glands.

Preparing your cat for a change in environment

Cats are known to be very territorial, and a change in environment can cause them unneeded stress, which could then lead to them spraying around your new house or releasing their anal gland pheromones. 

  1. Getting your fur baby a comfortable carrier and acquainting them with it is the first step to preparing them for the big move.
  2. Letting them play in and around your moving boxes before the big day can also help with the stress of packing everything up.
  3. Keeping your daily routine of feeding, treats, and playtime
  4. If your cat is incredibly anxious, there are also different supplements your vet can recommend as well.
  5. Once you have moved, let your cat explore their new territory one room at a time.
  6. Make sure their litter box and food are in an easily accessible area, in your cat’s own space.

Introducing a new pet

If you are introducing a new cat to your home and your existing cat’s territory, keeping to your cat’s normal feeding schedule, treats, and playtime can help reduce stress immensely. Introducing the new and existing cat slowly can also reduce stress in both felines.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that all cats have different temperaments and responses to stress. If your cat seems to be acting out of character and is suffering from a smelly aroma, remember that scent is your cat’s way of communicating with you!