If you notice an unpleasant odor coming from your cat’s mouth, know that something is wrong. Cats shouldn’t have bad breath unless they’ve eaten something really smelly!
There are several reasons for bad breath in cats. It can be caused by various health problems, such as problems with the gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys, as well as diabetes and dental disease. Of course, what your cat eats can affect her rhythm. If your cat has bad breath, you need to investigate and act immediately, especially if the problem is chronic. If it is a serious health problem, you should contact your veterinarian.
The main causes of bad breath
Oral problems in cats
Bad breath in cats is largely caused by dental diseases, which are classified as tooth resorption, periodontitis and gingivitis. Some of these can cause your cat discomfort, severe pain, and foul-smelling cat breath.
Tooth Resorption – This is where the gum tissue near the tooth begins to grow over the tooth and therefore “absorption” occurs. This is a common problem with domestic cats. The first sign of this problem appears as a pinkish mark in the cat’s tooth around the line where the gums and teeth meet. At the time of presentation, the damage to the tooth is already significant and is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats. A problem can have small to large consequences depending on its severity. It can be very painful when the cat is reluctant to eat, turns its head to the side and the cat tends to drool.
Dental Gingivitis – The problem begins with the continued buildup of a plaque-like film of bacteria on the cat’s teeth. Plaque builds up above and around the line where the gums and teeth meet. The gums then become inflamed, swollen, red and painful. If you do not remove this plaque from the cat’s dental formula, it will penetrate deeper into the junction of the gum and the base of the tooth. It will continue to migrate until it reaches what we call the subgingival area. The body’s immune system activates against these bacteria causing the inflammation we call gingivitis. Plaque is usually caused by poor oral care and tooth crowding. As the plaque continues to build up, it hardens by absorbing minerals from the saliva and gums to form what we call tartar or calculus. The latter forms a rough surface providing a surface on which disease-causing bacteria can attach. The inflammation is not caused by the tartar, but by the bacteria that binds to it.
Dental Periodontitis – If you ignore the problem of gingivitis, a disease called periodontitis will develop which is irreversible. The tissues attaching the underlying gum, tooth and bone weaken and the result is substances with harmful effects generated by bacteria and inflammation. The problem will most likely result in your cat having loose teeth and losing a tooth/teeth.
Oral problems can cause bad breath in cats.
Other serious illnesses
Bad breath in cats can be caused by other serious diseases. Some of them include
Oral cancer – The growing tumor becomes infected, so the cat will produce an unpleasant odor
Kidney problem – When a smelly cat’s breath smells like urine or ammonia, there is a possibility of a kidney problem. The cat will also appear lethargic, want more water, lose weight and urinate more.
Diabetes – The cat’s breath will have a fruity smell and will drink more water, lose weight, have a high appetite and urinate more. This would be the opposite of if your cat was malnourished.
Liver – the whites of the eyes, skin on the gums and ears will appear yellow. The cat will be lethargic, have problems with vomiting and diarrhea, drink more water and urinate.
Cat food can cause an unpleasant odor if it contains things like liver or fish ingredients. A cat can also unconsciously chew on a foreign object, which can cause an unpleasant smell.
Remedies to use if the cat has bad breath
Prevention is always better than cure. This means that you should anticipate what can go wrong with your cat and prevent it before it happens. Oral hygiene problems that your cat may experience can be solved by simply keeping your cat’s teeth clean. The way humans do it with their teeth should happen to cats. You can remove plaque from your cat’s teeth before it builds up and causes inflammatory problems. If you start early, the cat will always let you brush its teeth. Care must be taken not to use normal human toothpaste as it may react when used on the cat. Your vet should guide you on the best products and equipment. Train your cat gradually, starting with finger licking with cat toothpaste and progressing to a cat that allows you to brush its teeth freely. If the problem is worse than oral health, you should try to see a vet. Some of these other causes include diabetes, liver, kidney, and more. A veterinarian is able to advise you on what to do if your cat has bad breath.