Why Does My Cat’s Breath Smell?

Why Does My Cat's Breath Smell?

Bad breath is something that happens to all of us on occasion, even our cats—getting surprised by offensive breath is never fun, especially so if you’re trying to show your feline friend some love and their breath smells like something dead for a while.

Your cat’s breath smells because of several reasons. But either poor health or oral hygiene is usually to blame for smelly cat breath. Usually, if noticed in time, it can be treated effectively.

About 70% of adult cats have a problem with bad breath, so you shouldn’t feel bad if your bundle of love makes you reel back when they yawn. However, it is something that you should take seriously because bad breath can be indicative of health issues. Read on to find out more.

What Causes Your Cat’s Bad Breath?

Before we can look at treatment for the stinky clouds surrounding your cat’s mouth, we need to determine the cause. This, of course, isn’t always done easily because cats can’t speak. However, if you know the various causes, you will know what to do next.

It is recommended that if you’re concerned about your cat’s health – even if just a little bit – you should visit your vet. It’s better to be safe than regret not going later on.

Dental Disease

The main offender that causes bad breath is usually dental disease. This can happen due to bacteria in your cat’s mouth. The bacteria and the saliva in the mouth combine and form tartar if not treated in time.

These bacteria can do more than cause terrible breath – it can lead to periodontal diseases which infect the teeth tissues.

If you notice the following symptoms present in your cat, it probably has dental disease and should visit your vet soon:

  • Brown coloring (tartar)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Gum inflammation
  • Difficulty with eating
  • Chewing on only one side
  • Preference for wet food (dry food hurts teeth)

Treating dental problems shouldn’t be too challenging. You can take your cat for a teeth-cleaning session. This treatment will be done under general anesthesia, and its breath will be much more bearable afterward.

Gingivitis and Stomatitis

If you notice inflammation of your cat’s gums, it could be a sign that it has gingivitis. If there is inflammation of the mucous lining of your cat’s mouth, it has stomatitis. These conditions develop because of other diseases that are caused by allergies and viruses.

They can cause bad breath, and you should take your cat to the vet if that’s the reason for the problem.

Stomatitis can be a painful experience for cats and can sometimes be caused by stress or genetics. The inflammation is typically behind the cat’s back molars. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication and regular teeth cleaning.Why Does My Cat’s Breath Smell?

Sometimes, the infected tooth (or teeth) will have to be pulled to provide relief and help the cat return to a healthier state.

Oral Tumors

Oral tumors are the fourth-most common malignancy in cats and are more common than many people realize. This issue results in a cat eating poorly, and there might also be swelling present within the mouth. Often, the cat’s saliva will have blood in it.

Treating oral tumors is more invasive, and surgery is usually necessary. In some rare cases, the cat might even have to go for chemotherapy.


Your cat’s diet can also be a cause for bad breath. Certain foods, such as fish and liver, can cause bad breath. This is usually not a problem, and the stink will likely not last long.

However, if your cat ate something and a piece of it got lodged in its mouth, you need to help your cat get the food loose and change what it eats.

Metabolic Diseases

Internal conditions such as kidney disease and gastrointestinal diseases can result in unpleasant breath in cats. This is usually something that happens to older cats, but a young cat is not entirely immune to this disease.

Respiratory Infections

This kind of problem usually only happens with older cats and can cause awful breath because the viruses can result in tongue and mouth ulcers. The ulcers can also become infected with bacteria and worsen the problem.

Some of the respiratory infection symptoms are sneezing, loss of appetite, runny eyes and nose, and fever. The treatment is symptomatic and can include antibiotics and nebulization. You’ll also have to feed your cat soft foods and gently groom it.

Diabetes Mellitus

Cats with this type of diabetes experience problems with glucose metabolism. If their body is put under stress by other diseases or ailments, the situation will worsen. If that happens, another condition is caused: diabetic ketoacidosis.

This results in the body producing ketones in the urine and blood. The ketones will be detected in the breath and can smell like acetone.

If a cat has diabetic ketoacidosis, it will be nauseous and listless. It is a life-threatening condition, so do not waste time before visiting the vet if you suspect that’s what’s wrong with your cat. It will need insulin injections, blood tests, and intravenous fluid therapy to get better.

How To Fix a Cat’s Bad Breath

When you know why your cat’s bad breath, you can do something about it and make both of you happier.

If your cat has a disease or is unwell on top of having bad breath, the only thing you can do is take it to the vet. It will get the correct treatment, and you’ll be able to help your fur buddy feel better with the right medication and lots of TLC.

If it’s a bad diet or poor oral hygiene that you can treat on your own, you should do so as soon as possible.

Brush Those Teeth

It may not be an easy task, but you will have to get your cat used to brushing its teeth. We all know how stubborn felines can be when touching them, but it’s a necessary task. If you can, teach your cat a teeth-cleaning routine from a young age.

You should be able to get special toothpaste for your kitty at any pet store, and cat-specific toothbrushes will make the job more comfortable too.

Brush your cat’s teeth every day or at the very least three or four times a week. As long as you stick to the routine, your cat should eventually get used to it and make it a little less stressful for you.

Brushing alone isn’t enough, though, so take your cat for a dental cleaning once a year. Your cat will be put under anesthesia for a thorough and easy clean.

Buy Dental Care Products

On top of brushing your pet’s teeth, you should use any other tools at your disposal to prevent teeth-related problems. Dry cat food is usually good for preventing tartar buildup and plaque formation.

It would be best if you asked your vet for their ‘most recommended’ dental care cat food, so you know you’re giving your pet the best possible products.

You can also buy dental chews or treats that you can use to reward your cat for letting you brush its teeth. These treats and chews help to keep your cat’s teeth clean and prevent smelly breath.

Get Rid of Bacteria

In addition to good dental care, you can also make sure you eliminate any bacteria that can cause trouble for your cat. Oral rinses and water additives are excellent supplements. You simply add the water additives to your kitty’s water bowl to kill the bacteria. Dental rinses will help stop plaque buildup and keep your cat’s mouth healthy.


Bad breath in cats can’t always be avoided, but you can do your part to keep your pet healthy. As long as you help your cat practice good dental hygiene and feed it healthy food, bad breath should only be an occasional thing.