Bad Breath in Cats

Updated: 5/20/20242-4 minutes
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If your cat is suffering from bad cat breath, also known as halitosis, we recommend you take them to visit the local vet. Your vet will be able to examine your cat’s teeth and mouth to check, there isn’t a serious issue causing your cat’s bad breath. Keep reading to find out about the possible causes of feline halitosis. 

Causes of Bad Breath in Cats 

There are several possible causes of bad breath in cats. These are some of the most common: 

1. Diet 

The food your cat consumes can often be a cause of bad breath. If you’re asking yourself why your cat’s breath smells, it might be a good idea to look at what they’re eating. If you have taken your cat to the vet and ruled out any oral health issues, then their diet may well be the cause. Occasionally, wet and soft cat food can cause bad cat breath as it can stick to a cat’s teeth, which tends not to happen with dry food.

2. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It occurs when an accumulation of plaque and bacteria builds up in your cat’s mouth over time. Gingivitis can be uncomfortable for your cat and may cause bad breath in cats. 

3. Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease can also develop when a cat is suffering gingivitis for a prolonged period of time. If the gingivitis is left untreated, it can cause tartar (hardened plaque) to build up underneath a cat’s gums which creates little pockets of space. These pockets are the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth, and this can lead to periodontal disease, another common cause of bad breath in cats. 

4. Coprophagia and Pica

Coprophagia is the term for a cat that is eating their own or other animals’ feces. Pica is a medical issue in cats where it regularly eats nonfood items. Both of these issues can cause bad cat breath. If you suspect your cat has been eating something they shouldn’t, it’s best to take them to the vet. 

5. Stomatitis

Feline stomatitis occurs when the whole of a cat’s oral cavity becomes severely inflamed. One common symptom of stomatitis is very bad cat breath. It’s important to book a consultation with your vet if you notice your cat’s breath has a strong, foul smell to it. Read our guide to stomatitis in cats for more symptoms and advice.

6. Kidney Disease

On very rare occasions, kidney disease can cause bad breath. There are two different types of kidney diseases that your cat could suffer from. The first is acute kidney failure, and the second is chronic kidney failure. There are a few different symptoms that could be a sign of kidney failure, such as vomiting, weight loss and bad cat breath. Read our guide to kidney disease in cats for more information. 

7. Diabetes

Diabetes could also be behind a cat’s bad breath. If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, you may notice their breath has a fruity smell to it. This rare smell could be the sign of a metabolic problem with the diabetes, and you should take your cat to a vet straight away. Other signs that your cat may have diabetes are significant increases in urination and drinking along with an increase in appetite – if you notice this and your cat hasn’t been diagnosed, you should see the vet as soon as possible. Read our guide to cat diabetes for more information. 

Treating Bad Breath in Cats

If your cat has bad breath, it’s important to make sure you take them to the vet to rule out any more serious issues being the cause. This being said, some cats suffer from bad breath even if there are no problems with their teeth and gums.

Try some of the steps below to reduce the bad smell coming from your cat’s mouth. If your cat is suffering from gum disease, check with your vet before carrying out any home treatments as the inflamed gums can be sensitive. 

1. Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth at Home 

Brushing a cat’s teeth regularly not only helps reduce plaque and tartar buildup, but it can also reduce bad cat breath. When brushing a cat’s teeth, it’s important you do it somewhere comfortable and that you make sure to use a toothbrush specifically designed for cats and their small, sharp teeth. Never give a cat human toothpaste. Instead, you should use special pet toothpaste designed for cats. If you do want to try this at home, read our step-by-step guide to how to keep your cat’s teeth clean

2. Cleaning Your Cat’s Teeth at the Veterinarian’s Office 

If you think your cat needs a more effective and rigorous clean, it may be worth asking your vet to clean their teeth with professional tools. Your vet’s equipment will be more effective than what you have at home. Asking your vet to give your cat’s teeth a professional clean every so often will help to remove plaque and tartar that could be present in your cat’s mouth. Doing this will also help to reduce your cat’s bad breath smell and also give the vet a chance to extract any teeth that are rotten or causing pain. 

3. Dental Cat Treats

Feeding your cat dental treats, such as Dentalife Cat Treats, can make a real difference to your cat’s bad breath and their overall dental hygiene. This is because each treat your cat chews surrounds the teeth and helps to provide a deep clean, and removing this tartar and plaque can help a cat with bad breath. 

DentaLife Cat Treats have no added artificial colors and preservatives and come in a resealable pack to keep the treats fresh. Learn more about DentaLife Cat Treats and how they can improve your cat’s dental health today.

For more expert tips on keeping your cat healthy, explore our other cat health articles

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