What Is Your Cat’s Bad Breath Telling You?

Sharing some love with your cat should be part of your everyday routine. But what if you wake up to a horrid stench and realize it’s your pet licking your face?

It might smell like fish, or if you want to be hyperbolic you could say it smells like death, but at the end of the day, you need to know what’s causing it. And more importantly, how to get rid of it. Read on for the answers!

Dental Anatomy

The tooth is made up of several parts. The outside of the tooth is called the enamel, and it protects the main bone structure of the tooth. The innermost part of the tooth is the pulp, which is full of nerves. The crown is the visible portion of the tooth and the root is hidden inside the gum. To hold the tooth in the socket, strong periodontal ligaments attach the socket to the root.

Illustrated cat face

Dental disease can affect any part of the tooth, but when it’s advanced the periodontal ligaments become weak and the tooth can become wobbly and fall out. This is painful and unpleasant for your cat. Be sure to upkeep their dental hygiene, making sure their mouth is sparkly clean, to avoid this scenario!

woman with handkerchief and cat

Why Does My Cat’s Breath Stinks?

One of the causes of bad breath is plaque build-up or what dentists commonly call tartar. This happens when food gets stuck in between your cat’s teeth, creating a rotten area for bacteria to thrive in.

If you don’t do something about it, this can progress to the well-known dental malady known as periodontal disease or gingivitis. This disease can also less-commonly be caused by mouth and gum wounds or food allergies. There is also an immune disorder that can cause gingivitis, which is thought to be an inheritable condition.

Here are some other underlying issues that can cause halitosis:

  • Diabetes – the high blood sugar created by this disease causes gum disorders which lead to bad breath. The bad breath is caused by ketones which produce a foul but sweet smell.
  • Kidney Disease – once the ability of the kidney to filter waste products falters, an ammonia-like smell can ride on your cat’s breath.
  • Liver Disorder and Gastrointestinal Issues – just like with kidney disease, if the liver can’t properly filter out the waste in your pet’s body, it causes a foul odor—in this case, one that smells like vomit.
  • Respiratory Disease – if your cat has a clogged nose and bad breath, it’s because of bacteria or a virus that is residing in its respiratory system.
  • Stomatitis – this is caused by inflamed gums which deteriorate over time. The deteriorating gums are the main cause of the odor.

Any of these diseases or disorders could be the culprit of your pet’s atrocious breath. If you think that the issue might be more serious than just tartar getting stuck in its teeth, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms, indicating that something worse might be going on:

  • Swollen Gums
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Constant Urination
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Swollen Abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Mouth Control
  • Pawing at the Mouth
  • Yellowish Eyes or Gums
  • Excessive Drooling

Before you try to resolve the bad breath problem, consult your vet and have them administer tests to ensure that there are no underlying issues or serious illnesses which could be causing the halitosis.

If you and your furball are lucky, the test results will come out negative. Now you simply have to find a suitable remedy to the bad-breath issue.

How To Fix My Cat’s Bad Breath?

Friends and neighbors might give you all sorts of advice, but the best advice will always come from your veterinarian. The doctor may prescribe special medication if your pet is suffering from internal diseases, while breath freshener for cats might be recommended for those who are only experiencing mild plaque build-up. If the plaque build-up is excessive, your cat may require a dental procedure.

Some vets might also recommend that you change your cat’s diet. Soft food diets don’t provide any stimulation to the enamel of the teeth and therefore plaque build-up happens quickly. Dry kibble food, or more specific dental diets, will help reduce plaque as the cat crunches through the harder food.

Here are some ways to maintain your pet’s fresh breath:

Brush Its Teeth – no, don’t this with a human toothbrush! It’s going to be difficult if you do because the cat’s teeth are different from ours. You need to go to a pet store, buy a toothbrush and special toothpaste that is suitable for your cat. Cat toothpaste won’t be mint flavor either—it’s likely to be fish, chicken, or malt flavor. These toothpaste have enzymes which help dissolve the plaque. Reduced plaque means fresher breath.

You can also educate yourself on how to brush a cat’s teeth online. There are plenty of techniques on how to effectively do so while trying not to lose a finger. Acclimate your cat to teeth brushing while it’s still young and make it a habit to brush your pet’s teeth daily. This will keep your fur baby’s breath fresh and strengthen its teeth all around.

Use A Water Additive – this is similar in efficacy to the mouth wash that humans use. Consult your vet before trying this, as this may contain chemicals that your cat is allergic to.

The water additive helps fight off bacteria and rinses the mouth clean. This prevents any further plaque build-up and reaches the areas that a normal toothbrush can’t. It also washes away any tartar that gets lodged in between the teeth.

Always remember that this is a supplement to the brushing process and does not replace it. Brushing your pet’s teeth should never be neglected.

Give Your Cat A Dental Chew – this is a treat that cats adore. Different brands provide different flavors, so your cat may prefer one to the other. Give them big ones to avoid choking and, as always, consult with your vet first.

Not only will this help your cat get rid of tartar by fighting mouth bacteria, it’s also a balanced and healthy treat. It’s a way for your cat to clean and snack at the same time! Dental chews abrasively rub off tartar and bacteria build-ups.

Some dental treats contain enzymes or other ingredients that protect, prevent, or reduce plaque build up. The best have gone through testing by veterinary dentists and are able to include on the label endorsements from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Visit the Vet Regularly – have your vet do the dirty work! Your cat’s teeth can get cleaned by a professional and you can get product recommendations for ongoing oral hygiene. A normal dental procedure is a scale and polish; however, if your cat’s teeth are particularly bad, extractions may be in order. If so, your cat will require an anesthetic. Extractions are usually a day-long procedure at the vet. Bring your cat with an empty stomach in the morning and they’ll be ready to go home after lunch. Afterward, they might need antibiotics and pain relief, but don’t worry—recovery is usually very quick.

Take care of your cat’s oral hygiene not only for the benefit of cuddles and kisses that don’t smell rank but also for the overall improvement of your kitty’s health!

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