Animals (and cats are no exception) have a number of microorganisms in their mouths that can produce bad breath every now and then. If a cat has a tooth or gum infection, her breath will smell even worse, sometimes resembling something putrid.
In today’s article, we are looking at several reasons why your cat’s breath stinks, several ways of preventing bad breath in cats, and how this problem can be solved.
Why does my cat’s breath smell?
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the reasons your cat’s breath might be stinky. She might have a tooth infection, she could be suffering from periodontal disease, or she could have a number of other medical conditions that can cause bad breath — and they can range from liver and kidney disease to diabetes.
Your cat’s diet can also influence the smell of her oral cavity – if your cat regularly eats fish or foods containing this ingredient, she might have worse breath than when she eats chicken.
There’s also the possibility of your cat’s mouth having acquired bacteria buildup, and this can happen especially if you don’t really take care of your cat’s oral hygiene, you never brush her teeth, and you don’t even use water additives sold as ‘cat mouthwashes,’ which can significantly decrease plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.
More often than not, bad breath is a symptom of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, if your cat has developed this health problem, her teeth are almost unsalvageable.
Different types of breath
The two most worrying types of breath smells that you can sense in cats are a sweet one and another that resembles ammonia.
The first can be a symptom of diabetes along with other clinical signs, such as excessive urination and unusually high water consumption. The second can be a sign that your feline friend is suffering from kidney disease.
Both of these types of breath smell should convince you that your pet needs veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
If your cat has brown teeth, you’ve noticed that her gums are bleeding, or she has been having a hard time eating her regular food, a check-up at the vet clinic is also necessary.
Any additional symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, no appetite, strange-colored gums, or straining to urinate or defecate should also make you feel concerned and convince you to take your feline friend to the animal hospital.
Preventing bad breath and oral health problems in cats
You might have heard this from your veterinarian before, but the truth is that the most effective way of preventing periodontal disease, as well as halitosis (the scientific name of bad breath), is to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis.
No one loves the task, especially your cat. However, being consistent and keeping up with a routine is extremely important and will convince your cat that there’s no way of going about things — her teeth have to get cleaned somehow.
Your vet can recommend a special gel that’s odorless and tasteless, and that isn’t going to irritate your cat’s gums in any way. Do not try to jam the toothbrush all the way toward the end of your cat’s mouth, as she’ll either become scared or aggressive. Take it step by step every day.
Cat mouthwashes aren’t enough, even though they are now being marketed as capable of preventing plaque and tartar from building up on your pet’s teeth. Nothing works better than the manual removal of the bacteria buildup — after all, this is also why humans brush their teeth.
If you feel like the bad breath is a consequence of your cat’s diet, just have a talk with your vet about what they recommend. By the way, you can get larger and crunchier kibble that has a somewhat abrasive surface, and that can at least try to indirectly clean your cat’s teeth.
What could happen if you don’t care for your cat’s teeth?
First of all, one of the most important oral health problems that some cats can develop is oral cancer — and it can be deadly if it is not discovered and treated at the right time. For this reason, our best advice is to take your cat to the veterinary hospital at least once or twice a year for check-ups.
Needless to say, poor oral health can lead to additional oral issues, such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and cavities, as well as tooth destruction caused by feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions. Gingivostomatitis is another complication that can appear in some animals.
But beyond your cat’s mouth, there are a lot of health issues that can be caused by poor oral hygiene — and the most significant one is represented by cardiovascular complications. When your pet’s gums are constantly bleeding, your cat has one or several entryways for bacteria in her mouth, which means that any germ can end up in her blood flow and cause septicemia (at worst) and an organ infection (at best).
Toxins from oral diseases can be spread to other organs, such as your cat’s brain and kidneys.