Why Does My Cat Have Bad Breath?

Even a healthy cat’s breath isn’t necessarily the most pleasant of odours, thanks to a diet of fish-based snacks, commercial cat food, and anything they come across on their excursions. It often has a fusty odour, which isn’t always ideal when they’re forcing their mouth towards our nostrils. This is not the same as stating your cat has bad breath. When a cat has a foul-smelling mouth, it can be a concerning clinical symptom. This is especially true in senior cats.

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Cats with bad breath emit a caustic odour, which is unusual due to their diet and activities. Gingivitis, caused by an infection, is inflammation of the gums in cats’ mouths, known as gingivostomatitis. It is crucial to distinguish between a cat’s breath and a healthy mouth.

A cat’s gums can become infected through a variety of means. They may consume anything that punctures their gums, allowing opportunistic microorganisms to enter the wound. They may chew on something contaminated with hazardous bacteria, causing the gums to become infected more directly. The odour of these illnesses is frequently fishy or rotting. Along with the swelling, there will likely be discomfort in the mouth, redness of the gums, and other symptoms.

The cat may stop eating due to the pain of the condition. This can cause the cat to lose weight or develop other major issues. Antibiotics will be required to treat bacterial infections, and analgesics may be used to relieve pain. Cats may require a soft food diet while the infection clears.

Cats with periodontal disease

Periodontal disease in cats is an undesirable yet prevalent illness. Clinical indications include gum redness, tartar buildup, and, finally, tooth loss. It is not a single problem, but rather a catch-all phrase for a variety of infectious disorders that are most typically associated with bacterial plaque formation.

It differs from gingivostomatitis in that there is no inflammation surrounding the tooth. With simple contact of the affected area, pus and blood may occur. A foreign body trapped between the teeth could be the source of the foul odour.

Other halitosis symptoms in cats

If we cannot inspect the mouth, we may notice additional signs such as hypersalivation, eating difficulties, or anorexia. This can cause the cat’s coat to become dull and the cat to cease brushing themselves as frequently. Because viruses such as caliciviruses can be involved, it is not always easy to solve an oral condition. These are distinguished by their ability to cause ulcers.


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An ultrasonic mouth cleaning is used to treat periodontal disease. This treatment requires that the cat be sedated. Teeth that have been damaged are extracted. Extraction is also the preferred treatment for severe or nonresponsive gingivostomatitis.

Halitosis in cats can be caused by internal issues like female renal disease, which causes foul breath due to chemicals accumulated by the kidneys. Kidney failure is more common in elderly cats and can cause systemic symptoms like hair loss and anorexia. It’s crucial to take the cat to a veterinarian for treatment, even if irreversible harm has occurred.

Vomiting causes feline halitosis.

We are not always in a position to notice when a cat has vomited. It will be impossible to determine if they have access to the outside or if they do it somewhere in the house that we do not see. Vomit could be the source of the cat’s poor breath.

Vomiting in cats is a symptom of a variety of diseases and problems. It might range from a little stomach discomfort to life-threatening infections. Cats may also regurgitate frequently if they have hairballs, which is particularly prevalent in longhaired cats. If a cat vomits frequently or for an extended period of time, it is a veterinary emergency. We need to take them to a clinic to find out what’s wrong with them.

Kidney illness is another cause of long-term intermittent vomiting. In this situation, the scent emanating from the cat’s mouth will be comparable to acetone, although not always. This is especially true in the early stages of pathology.

See our associated article for more information on the causes of vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

Why is my cat’s breath so stinky? – Vomiting-induced feline halitosis

Oral hygiene in cats

It is possible that your cat’s breath stinks for other reasons. Even if they do not have a specific health concern like gingivitis, poor dental hygiene can cause bad breath. It may not be a major concern in and of itself, but neglecting it increases the likelihood of more serious problems. As a result, it is critical to maintain our cat’s oral hygiene. This necessitates:

Dental care: Begin accustoming the cat to dental care as soon as possible. We must use cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpastes since others can cause harm or are plain unpleasant for the cat.

Maintain a healthy diet by providing items that aid in tooth cleaning and never giving them sugar or food that does not match their nutritional needs.


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Veterinary check-ups should be done at least once a year and should include an oral exam as well as blood and urine tests. This is especially important for elderly cats, who are more susceptible to systemic disorders that must be recognized early.