Bad breath is usually an indicator that something is not right with your cat’s health.
Possible Reasons for Bad Breath in Cats
- Abscessed tooth. Tooth Decay or broken teeth Read more on Toothache and Tooth Decay in Cats
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Periodontal Disease
- Periodontitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the teeth)
- Resorptive Dental Disease
- Bone or foreign body stuck between the teeth
- Kidney Disease
- Feline Leukemia Virus
- Feline Stomatitis
- Mouth tumors
Firstly, ask yourself if there are any other symptoms associated with bad breath.
- Does your cat seem to be in pain around the mouth area?
- Is there a reluctance to eat?
- Does your cat try to eat but drop the food once it gets into the mouth?
- Is your cat pawing at the mouth?
- Is your cat drooling?
- Is your cat suffering weight loss?
These could be signs of a bad, broken or abscessed tooth or gum disease. If possible, check your cat’s mouth for foreign bodies such as splinters of bones lodged between the teeth. Check to see if the gums look normal and that there are no signs of swelling or bleeding. An abscessed or damaged tooth may not be noticeable to you so if in doubt get your vet to check your cat’s mouth.
Weight loss can occur because of an inability to eat sufficiently.
The picture above shows a typical sign of tooth decay. A red bloodline at the gum line of the tooth. Read more on Toothache and Tooth Decay in Cats
There are also several other underlying conditions that cause feline bad breath that can only be successfully diagnosed by your veterinarian.
Dental disease is one of the most common health problems seen by veterinarians. Tartar buildup caused by plaque should be avoided by either cleaning your cat’s teeth yourself or having an annual scaling by your vet. There are specially formulated toothpaste and specially designed toothbrushes for cats. Never use a human toothbrush or toothpaste. You can purchase a finger brush for cats.
Special diets are available for cats which are designed to reduce plaque & tartar formation. Hills Prescription Diet Feline T/D can be purchased from your veterinarian or online.
Resorptive Dental Disease
The resorptive dental lesion is another condition that is known to cause feline bad breath. These lesions can be extremely painful. The lesions usually occur on or just below the gum line but they may affect only the root of the tooth. Usually, cats with the resorptive dental disease need to have the teeth involved extracted.
More Reading on Toothache and Tooth Decay in Cats
Cats and Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, which can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. The signs and symptoms are red, swollen and puffy gums that bleed easily. If treatment is not received, gingivitis could progress into periodontitis, an advanced and more serious stage of gum disease that includes bone loss and is not reversible.
Kidney and Liver Disease and Feline Leukemia can cause bad breath in cats
Kidney and liver disease can lead to dental disease and so cause bad breath in cats. It should also be noted that dental disease can form bacteria that can break loose from the mouth, enter the bloodstream and cause problems with the kidneys, liver and heart. More Reading on Kidney Disease in Cats
Feline leukemia has also been associated with bad breath in cats. Your vet can perform tests for feline leukemia and may also test for feline aids.
Cats can be affected by Stomatitis also known as a lymphocytic plasmacytic syndrome (LPGS) which is an inflammation of the entire mouth. Symptoms may include bad breath, weight loss, inability to eat and excess salivation.
Oral tumors can occur in cats. Any swelling of the mouth associated with bad breath should be checked by your vet.