How long does it take for a dead cat to start smelling?

Depending on the climate it may take from a few weeks to severeal weeks for the cat to start smelling. To avoid the smell you can cremate your cat or let the vet handle it.

After your cat’s death, you need to come up with difficult decisions right away. This is a bad time for cat parents and we highly recommend that you surround yourself with family and friends, and prefer not to be alone. It’s even advisable to call or ask help from someone who can arrange your cat’s remains. If you think you can’t emotionally and physically handle the dead body of your cat, then it’s best to call someone who likely can.

Handling your cat’s remains

It’s not easy to talk about in this very difficult time for a cat parent, however, it might mean you need to handle your dead cat’s body if a relative, friend, or service provider isn’t reachable. And, even if you call a company to handle the cremation of your cat’s body, you still have to store the body of your cat properly if they can’t pick it up right away. It’s very important to bear in mind that the body of your deceased cat should be taken care of right away. 

A deceased cat’s body starts to decompose right away after death. This means it will begin to attract rodents and pests, as well as the smell, will be really bad in no time. If you’re living in an area with a hot temperature, the decomposition rate will be quicker. You should also be aware of the joint stiffening, which often starts within ten minutes to 4 hours after death and could last to 3 days. Temperature can affect this too so it’s advisable that a dead cat’s body should be handled right away before the joints of the dead cat’s body stiffens. Below, learn more about how to prepare your cat’s remains prior to cremation or burial.

3 tips when preparing your cat’s remains

1. Upon a cat’s death, their body releases fluids so it’s advisable that you wear rubber or other waterproof gloves before you handle the body. Clean the anus, genitals, and mouth of your cat if there are any released fluid or waste. When you move the body, it’s also possible that it will release additional waste or fluid.

2. Use a towel, blanket, or any large piece of cloth that’s enough to wrap your cat’s body. It’s also best to use a high-quality garbage bag, or double a regular trash bag if you can’t find a heavy-duty one or if your cat’s body can’t fit one garbage bag. This is to minimize the foul odor. Arrange your cat on a cloth or towel and then place him in a sleeping position. This isn’t just peaceful to look at, but it will also make handling the body much easier.

3. Wrap your cat’s remains well and then put it into a garbage bag. Secure the bag by tying it tightly or you may wish to put it in a big box for much easier handling. If your cat’s dead body must be transported somewhere else, make sure to write your cat’s name on the boy to avoid accidentally switching it up with other cat remains before cremation or burial.

Common questions about what happens to your dead cat’s remains

How long does it take for a dead animal to start smelling?

A dead animal’s remains may start smelling 1-3 days, depending on the temperature. When your dog or cat dies in your home, it will begin to decay naturally and when it does, it will give off a foul odor, which is also known as the organic odorant compound molecules. At first, the odor may be mild but after 3 days, the odor can be very strong and may greatly affect humans’ health.

How long does it take for a dead cat to decay?

If your cat’s dead body is not enclosed tightly in a plastic bag, it will only take a few months for its organs, skin, and soft tissues to decompose. This is because the dead body of your pet is exposed to nematodes, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, air, and moisture, which greatly adds up to the decomposition process of a body.

What happens to a cat’s body after death?

Just like humans, animals may also expel urine or fecal matter when they die. However, don’t mistake this as a sign that your cat died in pain because it is a natural occurrence. When your cat dies, his muscles and internal organs tend to loosen, which eventually releases waste. It is ideal to clean up your cat’s remains a few moments after he died to make sure all fluid or fecal waste is already released.


If you can’t store your cat’s body in this manner and cannot also take it to a local animal aftercare service provider or your veterinarian, then a basement or garage may be enough. However, this shouldn’t be longer than four to six hours since the foul odor will become stronger and may permeate your house. If refrigerator or freezer storage isn’t possible, the usage of additional quality garbage bags is recommended.

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