Just as you hit the snooze button and roll over, something seems amiss. What is that smell? And, as you open your eyes, there stands your feline friend, yawning out that bad cat breath of which jolts you from your slumber.

For cat owners, one of the more common complaints is bad breath. Unfortunately, beyond the stink factor, there are several underlying health conditions that may be contributing to this.

Common Reasons for Bad Cat Breath

Halitosis, or bad breath, can be a red flag for pet owners. And, more often than not, canines with this condition are more likely to be given the needed veterinary attention and follow up dental care required to diagnosis and treat the problem.

There are a myriad of underlying conditions that contribute to halitosis in cats, with dental disease being one of the more likely culprits.

Oral Disease in Felines

Bad breath is felines is generally attributed to one of two conditions: gingivitis or feline stomatitis.

Gingivitis occurs when there is inflammation of the gums and stomatitis is a result of the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the back of the mouth. Both of these conditions can result from lack of dental care (brushing) and dental cleanings, which are done professionally by your veterinarian.

As plaque and tartar build, the immune system kicks in and produces cellular changes to combat what eventually leads to inflammation or infection.

Symptoms of these conditions include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Redness of the mouth and gums
  • Behavioral changes
  • Inability to eat or lack of appetite

To acquire an accurate diagnosis, however, your cat must be given a dental examination by your veterinarian. Treatment typically involves dental cleanings, tooth extraction (when needed), antibiotics, and changes to diet and/or the addition of supplements.

Other Causes of Feline Halitosis

While oral/dental disease is the most prevalent reason for bad breath, other illnesses or conditions can produce similar symptoms.

These include:

  • Ulcers and sores
  • Kidney disease
  • Abscess or infection
  • Poor oral hygiene (resulting in plaque and tartar)
  • Teething in kittens and young cats
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Diet (some soft foods can result in lingering bad breath)
  • Infections
  • Cancer

Considering the wide range of diagnostic possibilities, we recommend your cat be examined if halitosis becomes a problem.

At-Home Tips for the Feline Owner

One of the best ways to mitigate the more likely causes of bad breath in felines is to provide consistent dental care for your cat companion.

This includes daily or regular tooth brushing using a toothbrush and paste formulated for cats and annual wellness examinations to determine dental/oral health.

By maintaining these examinations each year, we can better catch any ensuing changes to oral health and make recommendations for treatment.

Thankfully, safe, monitored teeth cleanings performed under anesthesia are effective in combating oral diseases.

To learn more about taking great care of your cat’s teeth and gum health or to schedule a consultation and examination, please contact the Countryside Veterinary Hospital staff.