Bad Breath In Cats: Causes & Treatments
From time to time, your cat may get a little too close for comfort and you notice that their breath is a little stinky. Obviously, you don’t expect your cat’s breath to always smell minty fresh, but you may be wondering what the exact causes of their issues. And if they point to something more serious like tooth or gum conditions, you will want to take action sooner rather than later. So, in this blog post, we are going to start with an examination of possible causes of bad breath, before moving onto a look at some of the main treatment options out there.
What Causes Bad Breath in Cats?
There are various different causes if cat breath smells like rotten meat or something else unpleasant ranging from serious medical conditions to the simple consumption of smelly food. Here are a few of the most obvious possibilities.
- Periodontal Disease
The most common cause of bad breath in cats is periodontal disease. This commonly occurs when soft dental plaque builds up on the surfaces of the teeth and around the gums, leading to an infection. If plaque continues to develop, it can cause irritation to the gum tissue, impacting the bones around the teeth. If no action is taken, this can harden within just a few days, resulting in tartar. And once this has formed, the rough surface makes it more likely that more plaque is going to accumulate.
Unfortunately, too many people don’t take good enough care of their cat’s teeth. If you don’t clean them, this can lead to the loss of teeth, bleeding gums, irritation, pain, and other issues. You could book your cat to have their teeth cleaned professionally if you like. Your cat will be put under general anesthetic, the plaque and tartar removed, followed by the possible extraction of teeth. To prevent this from returning, you will need to brush your cat’s teeth regularly. It will take some time and effort before they become used to you doing this, so you will need to be persistent.
- Mouth Cancer
One of the more serious reasons why your cat may be suffering from bad breath is that they have developed some kind of oral cancer. As tumors develop, they can become infected, leading to halitosis. Your vet will need to inspect your cat’s mouth, possibly under anesthetic to ensure that your cat doesn’t resist. Be aware that cancers found in this area can be challenging to treat, but if you catch it early, your vet will have the best chance of doing so.
- Kidney Disease
So far, we have only talked about bad breath issues that originate in the mouth, but there are also those that occur from other parts of the body as well. So, if you notice that your cat’s breath has an aroma of ammonia or urine, this could be a sign of kidney disease, which most commonly occurs in cats over the age of eight. Other symptoms that may point towards this issue include lethargy, weight loss, increased water consumption, and urination. Your vet will be able to examine your pet, as well as taking a blood test and conducting a urinalysis to see if there is anything going on. As always, early diagnosis is best. Kidney issues can be managed through dietary changes and proper hydration, along with dealing with any issues that have arisen as a result such as anemia and high blood pressure.
- Liver Disease
If you notice that your cat’s breath is foul, sweet, musty or a combination of the three, it could be a sign of liver disease. Yellowing around the whites of the eyes, on the skin or the gums could point towards this being the problem. Again, looking for other symptoms is often the best way of determining whether or not this is the case. Lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea are amongst these. Also, your cat may be drinking and peeing more than usual. Treatment options vary, but they depend on the cause of the disease.
Sometimes, the cause of your cat’s bad breath may be as simple as what they are eating on a regular basis. Some food is naturally smellier than others. Fish is one of the smellies foods out there, so if your cat has recently eaten some, you may not want them coming in for a slobbery kiss!
Treatments for Bad Breath in Cats
The treatment of your cat’s bad breath depends on what is causing it in the first place. Here are some of the steps that you can take.
- Bring Your Cat to the Vet
Before you do anything else, you should get in touch with your vet if the bad breath is persistent and doesn’t seem to have any obvious causes. This is especially important if you notice any other accompanying symptoms to cat bad breath and sneezing like red gums, teeth stains, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, or sudden weight loss. Bear in mind that many cats tend to hide when they are in pain or discomfort, so you will need to observe them closely to see if they are in pain.
Treatment will depend if they diagnose anything wrong. Whatever the case, you will be able to get peace of mind or you get treatment started at the earliest possible opportunity, which is the best way of helping your cat get back to the peak of health. If they don’t diagnose anything specifically wrong with your pet, they should be able to provide you with some advice on how to stop the issue from reoccurring.
- Cleaning Their Teeth
If your cat has no other medical issues, in many cases, bad breath can be treated by giving your cat’s teeth a good brush. Many owners don’t look after their cat’s oral hygiene properly, which will inevitably lead to periodontal disease at some point down the line. You will need some special cat toothbrushes and toothpaste. Avoid using brushes designed for humans as they will be too hard for your cat’s teeth. You can either get finger brushes or those designed in a traditional shape. You also need to use special toothpaste too as the human kind can be toxic if swallowed, and cats will not know how to spit it out!
It is best if you get into this habit when your cat is young as it can be harder to get them to cooperate when they are older. Either way, you are going to need to display plenty of patience and persistence to have success. You should try doing this at a similar time every day as cats are creatures of habit who don’t like big surprises if they can be avoided. If your kitten has bad breath, you don’t need to brush their milk teeth, but you can touch their teeth early to get them used to it.
- Use Other Ways to Maintain Oral Health
If you can’t brush your cat’s teeth, you could try other products such as oral hygiene gels or dental chews. Since your cat can’t look after their own oral health, you should make some sort of effort to keep on top of it in any way that you can.
- Change of Diet
If the cause of the cat bad breath is food-related, you could always shift your kitty onto different food types. Often, it is fishy food that is the problem, so you could try something more meat-based instead. Feeding your cat some dry food from time to time can also be useful in preventing plaque buildup and battling one of the leading causes of bad breath. But if your cat is on a mainly dry food diet, you should ensure that they have plenty of water left down as this ensures that they stay hydrated.
Recovery of Bad Breath in Cats
We can’t say conclusively how long it is going to take your cat to recover from a case of bad breath. It largely depends on what is causing the problem. If it is down to plaque stuck under the gums, this can be treated quickly with a professional tooth cleaning. However, if it is a more serious condition like liver or kidney disease, it is going to take a lot longer to solve. In some cases, the issue could be life-threatening.
Most cats suffer from bad breath from time to time. Often, it is just due to what they have eaten, but there are some occasions when it could be a sign that a more serious issue is at work. A checkup by a veterinarian will help to clarify what is causing the problem. It could be that your cat needs to be booked in for a professional tooth cleaning session. If there is a more serious issue, an antibiotic or medication may be required. Make sure that you don’t dismiss the problem if you notice it on a continual basis.