While your cat's breath may not always smell fresh, if you notice a foul odor coming from your furbaby's mouth, it could indicate a serious medical or dental problem. To keep your kitty's mouth clean, regular brushing can help deter odors, as can a visit to the vet.
Consult with your veterinarian about your cat's bad breath. Some illnesses result in kitty halitosis, such as feline immunodeficiency virus and kidney disease, including chronic renal failure. Diabetes causes your cat's breath to smell unusually sweet. Gastrointestinal problems, dental infections and liver disease can also lead to stinky breath. A full exam, including a blood or urine test, can help narrow down the cause of your cat's bad breath, which should be eliminated with proper medical treatment.
Have your cat's teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian. The main cause of kitty halitosis is poor dental hygiene. Plaque turns into tartar over time, which builds up on your cat's teeth, especially under the gum line. This leads to cavities, gingivitis and bacterial infections of the mouth. These dental issues cause stinky breath and require a veterinarian to clean away all of the plaque and tartar under anesthesia to remedy your cat's bad breath.
Brush your cat's teeth daily. Most pet stores and veterinarians carry special cat toothbrushes with soft bristles and meat-flavored enzymatic cat toothpaste. Gently rub the paste onto your cat's teeth with the brush to remove plaque buildup, improving your furbaby's breath.
Start your dental routine slowly, first rubbing the paste on the teeth with your finger and later with the brush. Give your kitty lots of treats, preferably crunchy dental treats, after a cleaning to reward him for good behavior.
Feed your cat crunchy kibble. Some pet food manufacturers make dry cat food specifically for the removal of tartar and plaque from the teeth. As the cat chews, the kibble helps to scrub the surface of the teeth clean, leading to fresher kitty breath. Ask your veterinarian about prescription diets for cats with dental issues.
Add a drop or two of sugar-free lemon juice to your cat's water bowl, recommends Vetinfo. The lemon helps to improve your cat's breath by neutralizing odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Mix a small sprig of parsley in your cat's food every few days. Parsley is included in cat treats specifically made to freshen your cat's breath, and has odor-reducing properties.
Spray 0.12 percent chlorhexidine into your cat's mouth for one to two weeks, recommends PetPlace. You will need a prescription from your veterinarian for this medication, which helps reduce inflammation and bacteria in your cat's mouth.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Bad Breath
- PetPlace: Halitosis (Bad Breath) in Cats
- PetMD: Bad Breath (Chronic) in Cats
- Vetinfo: Causes of Cat Bad Breath
- Vetinfo: Cat Treats for Bad Breath
- PetPlace: How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
- Drugs.com: Lemon
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Coriander and Parsley
- Some cats suffer from a very painful form of gum inflammation called lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis, an condition that can cause bad breath in cats and may even result in the cat refusing to eat. It requires veterinary care and supervision, according to the Manhattan Cat Specialists.
- Very rarely, a cat may ingest his own feces, a condition known as coprophagia, which can cause stinky breath, according to PetWave. This could indicate a health or mental problem and requires a trip to the vet.
- Brachycephalic breeds, such as Persians and Himalayans, have short noses and teeth that are set closely together, making them more likely to develop dental and gum problems, according to PetMD.
- Soft, canned food diets can promote bad breath because they tend to build up more on your cat's teeth.
- Never use human toothpaste, baking soda or mouthwash in your cat's mouth to freshen his breath. Ingestion of these chemicals can cause stomach upset or poisoning of your cat.
- Parsley is nontoxic to cats but should only be given in small amounts to prevent possible gastrointestinal issues, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.