Considering that your cat uses his tongue as toilet paper, a brush and washcloth, it's no wonder the occasional whiff of bad breath floats your way. But long-term or strongly smelling bad breath could indicate a medical condition, and may point to intestinal parasites.
Poor dental hygiene is the most common culprit for bad breath, and the lack of opposable thumbs leaves your kitty at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to oral health. Your feisty feline's chompers develop plaque and tartar just like yours do, and over time can cause dental problems. Bacteria like to party in your pet's mouth, too, which can cause infections and disease. His stinky breath can also be an indicator of an underlying medical issue, such as gastrointestinal disease, liver or kidney problems or respiratory infections.
Creepy Crawly Critters
While your kitty's breath knocks you for a loop, there could be a whole community of creepy crawly parasites calling his intestinal tract home. Numerous types of worms feel perfectly welcome to hunker down in his intestines, happily breeding and feeding off the nutrients in his bloodstream and intestinal walls. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms all set up residence in your cat's gut and cause various health issues by leeching off his system. Diarrhea, coughing and vomiting are common signs of uninvited guests in his intestinal tract, and heavy infestations may leave your cat weak and ill.
Offensive Olfactory Overlap
Strictly speaking, bad breath is not a direct sign of intestinal worms. But the partying parasites can cause secondary issues that can lead to stinky breath. Heavy worm infestations lower your cat's immune system, leaving him weak and susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. It's these infections that can cause the foul odor from your kitty's mouth. So in black-and-white terms, bad breath doesn't necessarily mean he has worms, but it doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't have them, either.
Bad breath may indicate worms, in a really roundabout way, but your kitty could just need a visit to the vet-slash-kitty dentist. Schedule an appointment with your vet to have your kitty's teeth professionally cleaned. If you notice additional symptoms that may point to parasites, such as a dull coat, diarrhea or an increase in vomiting, speak with your vet about testing. Medications will kill any freeloading worms, and antibiotics should clear up any secondary infections or health issues they caused. Once the built-up tartar and plaque is gone and the worms and health issues are dealt with, daily brushing should keep his breath clean and fresh.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.