Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Cat’s Bad Breath
What’s that horrible smell? It’s not coming from the end you think it is – you’ve got a case of kitty bad breath on your hands.
Even though you shouldn’t expect your kitty’s breath to smell fresh or be odorless, if your cat has halitosis, or chronic bad breath that’s extremely foul and strong, you should have her examined by a vet to rule out underlying health conditions.
Below are a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your cat’s bad breath and think it’s merely the result of what she eats.
Related: A Guide to Dental Care for Cats
The Causes of Offensive Kitty Breath
If your cat’s breath has a really offensive odor, there are several causes that may be to blame. These include:
- Periodontal disease, mouth sores, mouth ulcers
- Food or other object stuck in between your cat’s teeth or under the gums
- Liver disease or intestinal blockage (if your cat’s breath is foul smelling)
- Kidney disease (if your cat’s breath has a urine-like odor)
- Respiratory ailments, such as rhinitis
- Sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin disease
- Oral trauma
- Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes (if your cat’s breath smells sweet)
- Viral, fungal, bacterial infection
The best way to figure out exactly what’s causing your cat’s offensive breath is by taking her to the vet for a thorough examination. Your vet will determine if it’s simply a matter of periodontal disease that would require a professional cleaning and home care, or if there is a more serious underlying issue that’s to blame.
If your cat’s bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight loss, excessive thirst, excessive urination, reduced appetite, or vomiting, your kitty may be suffering from a more serious ailment that needs prompt treatment, so don’t delay bringing your pet to the vet.
Periodontal Disease: The Most Common Cause of Bad Breath
Providing your cat with dental care on a consistent basis is an important step in preventing periodontal disease, which is the most common cause of feline halitosis.
Periodontal disease is avoidable. If your cat develops this disease, however, she could end up in a lot of pain and her mouth may become infected or she may end up losing teeth or requiring tooth extractions by your vet. And when infections occur in the mouth, they can sometimes spread to other organs, causing problems elsewhere in the body as well.
The Importance of Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth
Brushing your cat’s teeth daily could help reduce bad breath by removing plaque, which would otherwise thicken and harden over time and potentially result in swollen gums, gingivitis, and bone and tissue loss.
If you catch periodontal disease early enough, a professional cleaning at your vet’s office could resolve the problem before it escalates. However, if you don’t keep up with home care, the plaque will end up building up again.
It’s Not Always Serious
Even though it’s important to know that chronic bad breath could be a sign of disease in your kitty, it’s also important to note that not every case of bad breath will indicate that there’s a health problem to blame. For example, if your cat has recently eaten food that has a strong odor, you can expect that her breath may be stronger as a result.
However, if your pet has really bad breath on a consistent basis, you should certainly take her to the vet to get checked. This will ensure you can give your cat the appropriate treatment, whether it’s antibiotics or other medications, or a tooth cleaning, to get to the source of the problem and resolve it.
With an understanding of the potential causes of halitosis, you can take the proper steps to maintain your cat’s health and wellbeing. If you ever have any doubts as to whether or not your cat’s breath is normal, simply ask your vet.
Lisa Selvaggio is a writer who has volunteered in animal rescue, caring for cats of all ages and learning their many quirks. She is certified in clinical pet nutrition, and enjoys helping pet parents give their fur babies the best care possible. Read more of her work online at Creatively Informative Writing.