It’s neither diet nor parasites, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Our adorable feline companions never fail to make us smile, but those smiles can quickly turn into frowns at the thought of cleaning their litter box. And even the most technologically-advanced litter box still can’t hide the odor emanating from fresh cat poop.

But why does the excrement from cats boast a higher stink factor than that from dogs or other animals? Some people have attributed it to diet, digestive disorders, or the presence of parasites. But now a daring research group from Iwate University has busted those myths, identifying exactly what it is within cat feces as that culprits that contribute to their legendary odor.

▼ These respectable scientists sacrificed their noses and sanity
to enlighten humankind.

Their results have been published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology. One of the group’s researchers, Associate Professor Masao Miyazaki, concluded that their breakthrough findings will lead to further development of technologies aimed at reducing feline poop odor.

▼ Odorless cat crap may become a reality someday.

So what exactly did they find? The answer is simple: sulfur compounds. Anyone who’s ever been to a natural outdoor hot spring in Japan can attest to the rotten-egg smell sulfur can produce.

The research group found an abundance of sulfur compounds in male cats practicing territorial marking, and also that the same sulfur compounds were noticeably absent from dog feces.

These volatile sulfur-containing compounds radiate out from fresh poop, causing us to wrinkle our noses and regret our life’s choices. But here’s the kicker: they become a lot more stable when bound to metal ions.

▼ So does that mean the unpleasant compounds can be
confined in poop and never reach our noses if it’s bounded somehow?

Technically, yes. It sounds deceptively easy, but developing technology to take advantage of the group’s findings will require a great deal more research, and that’s only half of the equation. Other components like butyric acid and propionic acid also contribute to the odor, which while allowing cats to differentiate between individuals, also make our quest to eliminate them all the more difficult.

Now we know there’s nothing wrong with cats when they have smelly excrement. They just naturally stink a whole lot, which on an evolutionary level might have been due to their noses being far less sensitive compared to dogs.

So unless people start teaching cats to use human toilets and flush the nasty things down to oblivion, smelly kitty poop will be lingering for a little longer.

Source: Journal of Chemical Ecology via Nikkei, Okatomu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3)