My Cat’s Breath Stinks!

If you detect a bad smell coming from your cat’s mouth, know there is something wrong. Cats should not have bad breathe unless they have just eaten something really smelly!

There are multiple reasons for bad breath in cats. It can be due to various health problems such as issues with the gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys as well as diabetes and dental disease. What your cat eats can obviously effect its beath. If your cat does have bad breath then you need to investigate and take immediate action especially if the issue is chronic. If it’s a serious health problem, you should contact your veterinarian. 

cat has smelly breath

Main Causes of Bad Breath 

Oral Problems in a Cat

Bad breath in cats is largely caused by dental diseases which are classified as tooth resorption, periodontitis, and gingivitis. Some of these can cause the cat discomfort, serious pain, and smelly cat breath. 

  • Tooth Resorption– This is where the gum tissue near the tooth starts to grow over the tooth hence the ‘resorption’. It is a common problem amongst domestic cats. The first sign of this problem appears as a pinkish sign in the cat’s tooth around the line of the meeting point of gums and teeth. At the time of showing, the damage to the tooth is already significant and it is the most common cause for the cat to lose its teeth. The problem can have small to big effects depending on its severity. It can turn very painful with the cat reluctant to eat, turn head sideways, and the cat tends to drool.  
  • Tooth Gingivitis-The problem starts with a continued plaque build-up as a bacteria-harboring film on the cat’s teeth. The plaque accumulates above and around the line where both gums and teeth meet. The gum then becomes inflamed turning swollen, red and painful. If you don’t remove this plaque from the cat’s dental formula, it will go deeper into the meeting point of the gingiva and the tooth base.  It will continue migrating until it gets to what we call the sub-gingival region. The body immune system will get activated against these bacteria causing the inflammation we refer to as the gingivitis. The cause of the plaque is usually attributed to providing insufficient oral health-care and crowding of the teeth.   On further and continued accumulation the plaque hardens through absorbing saliva minerals and the gingiva forming what we call tartar or calculus. The latter forms a rough surface providing a surface where disease-causing bacteria can attach. Inflammation is not caused by the calculus but by the bacteria attaching to it. 
  • Tooth Periodontitis-If you ignore the problem of gingivitis, it will progress to a condition called periodontitis that is irreversible. The tissues attaching the underlying gums, tooth, and the bone become weak and results in substances with damaging effects generated by the bacteria and the inflammation. The problem will most likely lead to your cat having loose teeth and losing its tooth/teeth. 
Oral problems can cause bad breath in cats.

Other Serious Diseases 

Bad breath in cats may be caused by other serious diseases. Some of these include

  • Oral Cancers-The growing tumor will get infected thus making the cat produce bad smell 
  • Kidney Problem-When the smelly cat breath smells like urine or ammonia, there’s a possibility of a kidney problem. The cat also will appear lethargic, want more water, lose weight, and urinate more. 
  • Diabetes-The cat’s breath will have a fruity smell and it will drink more water, lose weight, have a high appetite, and urinate more. 
  • Liver-The whites of the eyes, the skin on gums and ears will all appear yellow. The cat will get lethargic, have vomiting and diarrhea problem, and drink more water and urinate.


A cat’s diet can cause a bad smell if it contains things like liver or fish ingredients. A cat might also without knowing chew a foreign object capable of causing a bad smell. 

Applicable Remedies if Cat has Bad Breath 

Prevention is always better than cure. It means you should forecast what can go wrong with your cat and prevent it before happening. The oral hygiene problems that can occur in your cat can get tackled by simply maintain clean teeth for your cat. The way humans do it with their teeth should happen to cats. You can remove the plaque from the cat’s teeth before it forms and causes inflammation problems.   If you start early, the cat will always allow you to brush its teeth. Care is necessary you don’t use the normal human toothpaste as it can react when used on the cat. Your veterinarian should guide you on the best products and equipment. Train your cat in stages by starting with finger-licking using feline toothpaste and proceeding to cat allowing you to brush its teeth freely.   If the problem is worse than oral health you should make the effort of seeing a veterinarian. Some of these other causes include diabetes, liver, kidney, and extra. The animal doctor is in a position to advise you on way forward if your cat has bad breath.

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