Cat’s don’t always understand the concept of personal space, meaning you’re often subjected to a face full of stinky cat breath. While you can’t expect your kitty’s breath to smell like flowers, its breath should not be completely intolerable, either.
Bad breath in cats, also known as halitosis, should not be chronic or extremely offensive to the senses. If it is, your cat may be experiencing an underlying health problem.
Here are some of the most common causes of bad breath in cats and how you might be able to alleviate the problem.
Is it their food?
Before jumping to the most serious conclusion about your cat’s bad breath, consider that your cat’s stinky breath might just be caused by the food it eats. Tuna, chicken and other meats aren’t always delicious smelling, especially not after being partially digested and potentially caught in between your kitty’s teeth.
Note whether your cat’s breath always smells bad, or if it’s only once in a while. If its breath is only offensive on some occasions, the odor is probably due to its diet, which is normal. Water, a dental treat or tooth brushing may help rid your cat of its stinky breath and make it pleasant to cuddle with once again.
…Or is it their teeth?
However, if your cat’s breath is really stinky all the time, a larger issue may be at hand. One of the most common causes of halitosis in cats is periodontal disease, which is caused by excessive buildup of plaque on your cat’s teeth that later turns into tartar.
Periodontal disease is very common in pets, especially cats. If left without treatment, it has some very unfortunate results, including tooth loss, pain in the mouth, bleeding gums and, of course, chronic bad breath.
If your cat’s breath is practically intolerable and you know you haven’t been paying much attention to its dental hygiene, the cause is most likely periodontal disease. A visit to the vet is usually recommended so they can assess the damage done in the mouth and create a treatment plan.
Fortunately, the disease is preventable. Daily care for your cat’s oral hygiene will both minimize odors day to day and stall the buildup of plaque that can wreak havoc on your kitty’s teeth.
Brushing your cat’s teeth may not be easy, but when it is implemented slowly (first by getting your cat used to having its mouth touched, then getting it used to the cat-safe toothpaste, the feel of the brush and actual brushing), your cat will eventually tolerate the process. Daily brushing is an excellent way to prevent tartar and keep your cat’s mouth clean.
Dental treats and professional teeth cleanings are also useful in maintaining your cat’s oral hygiene and preventing periodontal disease.
Other potential causes of halitosis
Although periodontal disease is the most common cause of bad breath in cats, other, more serious ailments outside of the mouth may be at the root of your cat’s breath.
- Diabetes: Feline diabetes is known to cause a somewhat strange, fruity odor that may not necessarily smell bad, but will probably surprise you. If you notice this smell, look for other signs of diabetes like increased thirst and weight loss.
- Kidney disease: Kidney disease, another common problem in older cats, can cause breath that smells distinctly like urine or ammonia. The smell is often caused by a buildup of toxins not being filtered by the kidneys. Look for signs of lethargy, increased thirst and frequent urination.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Many problems within the gastrointestinal tract can lead to bad breath in cats, from an intestinal blockage to enlargement of the esophageal tube to inflammation of the throat. If your cat is having trouble eating or is uninterested in eating, be wary of these issues.
- Liver disease: Liver disease can sometimes cause cats to have a truly foul-smelling odor on their breath. This symptom is typically accompanied by yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, as well as lethargy, a poor appetite and gastrointestinal upset.
If you notice your cat displaying any of these troubling signs alongside bad breath, take it into the vet for a full examination and diagnosis. Comprehensive treatment may be necessary to address the underlying problem, which will in turn solve the stinky breath.
Remember, cat breath is unlikely to ever smell good to us humans, but consistent foul odors are not normal and should be investigated further. Always make sure to implement a regular oral hygiene routine for your cat and monitor its behavior daily to catch any changes and signs of major health issues.