Why Does My Cat’s Breath Stink?

Go nose-to-nose with your sleeping cat and give her a loving sniff. If it’s not sweet kitty breath that you know and love, but a stench that makes you wince, something may not be right. Just as the eyes may be windows into the soul, a kitty’s breath may hint to her health.

Early stages of periodontal disease can be remedied with professional teeth cleaning, which would give your cat a fresh start, but plaque will build up again within days without regular tooth brushing. To prevent most cases of bad breath, brush your cat’s teeth – ideally, every day – using tooth gel for felines.

“Link the brushing to a treat, such as drinking water from a dripping faucet or a favorite canned food,” advises Dr. Davis.

How can I get rid of my cats bad breath?

If tooth brushing is not possible, wiping your cat’s teeth with dry gauze or a washcloth can help remove some plaque, Marzec says. Dental diets or treats can also reduce plaque build-up and freshen breath. She recommends products that have been accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

What does stinky breath in cats mean?

The most common cause of halitosis in cats is periodontal disease caused from plaque and tartar build-up. Plaque-containing bacteria attaches over the freshly cleaned and polished tooth as soon as the cat starts to salivate.

What should a cat's breath smell like?

Mild Stink is Normal. A mild odor is normal in both cats and dogs. When you are very close to your pet’s mouth, their breath may smell like their food, often slightly fishy for cats and slightly gamey for dogs. It should be noticeable but not horrible.

Bad breath it happens to the best of us, including our beloved feline companions. Although many cases of our morning breath can be solved with a morning brush routine, cat bad breath often indicates a more serious medical problem, with both oral causes or systemic ones.

If you are starting with a kitten with a healthy mouth, implementing a plan of good oral hygiene will be fairly simple, provided you are consistent and committed. If your cat has periodontal, or gum disease, your first goal is to treat the oral cause of the bad breath.

Special additives and uniquely shaped kibble have been shown to greatly reduce plaque formation and tartar buildup, helping to maintain fresh breath. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association reported that dental and oral diseases are by far the most common problem facing our pets today.

Just as you hit the snooze button and roll over, something seems amiss. What is that smell? And, as you open your eyes, there stands your feline friend, yawning out that bad cat breath of which jolts you from your slumber.

As plaque and tartar build, the immune system kicks in and produces cellular changes to combat what eventually leads to inflammation or infection. Treatment typically involves dental cleanings, tooth extraction (when needed), antibiotics, and changes to diet and/or the addition of supplements.

While oral/dental disease is the most prevalent reason for bad breath, other illnesses or conditions can produce similar symptoms. Ulcers and sores Kidney disease Abscess or infection Poor oral hygiene (resulting in plaque and tartar) Teething in kittens and young cats Diabetes Liver disease Diet (some soft foods can result in lingering bad breath) Infections Cancer One of the best ways to mitigate the more likely causes of bad breath in felines is to provide consistent dental care for your cat companion.

This includes daily or regular tooth brushing using a toothbrush and paste formulated for cats and annual wellness examinations to determine dental/oral health. By maintaining these examinations each year, we can better catch any ensuing changes to oral health and make recommendations for treatment. Thankfully, safe, monitored teeth cleanings performed under anesthesia are effective in combating oral diseases.

The most common cause of halitosis in cats is periodontal disease caused from plaque and tartar build-up. Plaque-containing bacteria attaches over the freshly cleaned and polished tooth as soon as the cat starts to salivate. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralized, producing rough tartar which accumulates more plaque and causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). As plaque ages and gingivitis progresses into periodontitis (loss to tooth support), the bacterial flora changes from good bacteria to destructive bacteria.

Contrary to common belief, neither normal lung air nor stomach aroma contribute to halitosis. While this is occurring, the periodontal ligament (connective tissues that attach the teeth to the jaw bone) becomes infected causing destruction of tooth support.

Volatile sulfur compounds may also play a role in periodontal disease affecting the integrity of the tissue barrier, allowing endotoxins (a part of bacteria) to produce periodontal destruction, endotoxemia (endotoxins in the blood), and bacteremia (bacteria in the blood). Often those teeth affected by advanced periodontal disease or tooth resorption need to be extracted. The Veterinary Oral Health Council only accepts dental products that are safe and proven to reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar based on scientific studies; accepted products are listed at VOHC.org, or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

Wiping the outside of the teeth and gums with a Q-tip twice daily is one of the most effective ways to remove and slow the accumulation of plaque.

Oral Causes

According to International Cat Care, 85% of cats have some form of dental disease, and it’s no wonder why. A cat’s teeth and gums (aka gingival tissue) have naturally occurring bacteria. As these germs multiply and aren’t removed via brushing, they can develop a bacteria plaque film on the teeth; this film hardens through natural minerals in your cat’s saliva and becomes tartar. The bacteria in your cat’s mouth that are not removed release smelly compounds after they breakdown leftover food particles. Not only does this cause cat bad breath, but mouth bacteria can travel via the blood to various organs, where they can cause infections throughout the body, often resulting in heart and kidney disease. The accumulation of tartar also forces the gums down, causing them to recede, which loosens the roots of the teeth. Eventually, those loose teeth fall out. This all makes for one stinky and painful kitty mouth.Cats also can expose their teeth and gums to foreign objects — from bugs they catch and eat to nonfood objects that can cause injury or oral trauma. In addition to these sources, cats are known for their frequent hairballs and vomiting. Imagine how foul your breath would become if you couldn’t clean your mouth after being sick and you begin to understand why cat bad breath develops.Further oral causes of halitosis (the scientific name for bad breath) in cats include oral tumors, abscesses from dead teeth and inflammatory gum conditions.