Cat Bad Breath

We are supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why does my cat have bad breath?

Do you ever wonder why your cat has bad breath?

A cat can have unpleasant breath (halitosis) from time to time, especially after eating some foods like canned tuna, but if the bad smell stays for a long time then it should be worrying.

If your cat has an offensive breath for a prolonged period of time, it could be a sign of various diseases.

The most common diseases connected to bad breath are oral diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.

However, bad breath could also be a sign of internal organ diseases like kidney, liver, or respiratory disease, diabetes, a skin condition involving tissue around the lips, or oral trauma (for example electric cord injury).

why does my cat have bad breath

Cat Oral Diseases (Gingivitis & Periodontitis)

The most common cause of a cat’s bad breath is plaque and tartar that build up at the base of the gums. If you don’t brush your cat’s teeth regularly, the plaque and tartar build up, harboring harmful bacteria.

With time this buildup will cause gums to be inflamed, swollen, red, and painful. This condition is called gingivitis and if not treated, it will progress to even a more serious condition called periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a condition when the tissue that attaches the teeth to gums is so weakened and destroyed which will eventually lead to teeth loosening and ultimately their loss.

Daily Brushing

Cats are very good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, so a bad breath is a good excuse to start acting upon.

Luckily, the cat’s bad breath and oral diseases are easily prevented and if noticed early (gingivitis), reversible.

The clue to prevention lies in establishing a regular cat dental hygiene routine. This means that you should brush your cat’s teeth once a day every day with toothpaste and a brush designed especially for cats.

If brushing your cat’s teeth every day is too much for you, commit to brushing your cat’s teeth at least three times a week.

Never use toothpaste for humans to clean your cat’s teeth, because it contains foaming agents and fluoride. These substances are toxic to cats and will make your cat ill.

A toothpaste designed specifically for cats is free from harmful ingredients and can be safely swallowed and digested by a cat.

Read our guide and reviews of the best cat toothpastes to see which product would be the most suitable for you.

halitosis in cats

Tooth Brushing Training

The earlier you start accustoming your cat to brushing, the better. Small kittens are more flexible and easier accustomed to training and new habits.

It’s not impossible to establish a dental cleaning routine with an older cat, however, the training of an adult cat may be a bit harder and take a little longer.

To accustom a cat to the teeth brushing process, like in any other cat training, you can link it to a treat. After gently applying cat toothpaste to your cat’s teeth, follow it with a treat.

This way you will build up positive associations with toothpaste and eventually with brushing.

You can also use a cat calming spray or some other cat calming aid to put your cat at ease before the brushing begins.

Watch the video below to see the four-week training program designed to accustom your cat to teeth brushing:

Seek a Professional Help

If bad breath continues despite regular brushing of your cat’s teeth, it may signify that the cause of bad breath lies in the illness of internal organs. In this case, you should seek professional help from a veterinarian.


You may also be interested in the following articles:

Home » Health » Cat Bad Breath