Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be caused by a variety of health problems. Donít worry,
your catís breath isnít supposed to smell minty fresh-but if thereís an extremely strong, fetid
odour, there could be an underlying medical problem.
What Could Be Causing My Cat's Bad Breath?
Most often, bad breath is caused by a build-up of odor-producing bacteria in your petís mouth.
This can be a result of dental or gum disease; certain cats, in fact, may be especially prone to
plaque and tartar. Diet and dermatological issues can also be contributing factors. However,
persistent bad breath can also indicate more serious medical problems such as abnormalities in
the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. In all cases, halitosis is a
red flag that should be investigated.
How Can I Determine the Cause of My Cat's Bad Breath?
Your veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the cause. A physical examination may reveal the
cause of your catís problem. If not, further tests will likely be recommended. Be ready to answer
questions about your catís diet, oral hygiene, exercise habits and general attitude and behaviour.
When Is It Time to See the Vet?
The following symptoms will require veterinary attention:
Excessive brownish tartar on your catís teeth, especially when accompanied by drooling,
difficulty eating and red, inflamed gums, could indicate serious dental or gum disease.
Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your cat has been
drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
An unusually foul odour accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged
corneas and/or gums could signal a liver problem.
Pawing at the mouth
How Is Bad Breath Treated?
Treatment depends on your vetís diagnosis. If plaque is the culprit, your cat might require a
professional cleaning. If the cause is gastrointestinal or an abnormality in your petís liver, kidneys
or lungs, please consult your vet about steps you should take.
How Can I Prevent My Cat From Having Bad Breath
Many people assume that bad breath in cats, especially at a certain age, is a ďgivenĒ-but thatís not
the case. In fact, being proactive about your petís oral health will not only make your life together
more pleasant, itís smart preventive medicine:
Bring your pet in for regular checkups to make sure he has no underlying medical issues
that may cause halitosis.
Make sure your vet monitors and tracks the state of your catís teeth and breath.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA