Bad Breath in Cats | Glen Iris Vet

Did you know that 75% of cats over the age of three have dental disease, and smelly breath is usually one of the first signs pet parents notice?

Bad breath in cats can be a sign of something more serious. If you’re noticing your cat’s breath producing a strong, unpleasant odour, this isn’t normal and warrants a trip to your vet. Ongoing bad breath can be due to a variety of health problems. 

What is dental disease?

Odour-producing bacteria building up in your cat’s mouth will most likely be the cause of your cat’s bad breath. Saliva and bacteria form plaque that can then mineralise and become tartar if not treated. This can lead to periodontal disease, which is an infection of the supporting tissues of the teeth. Excessive brownish tartar, drooling, difficulty eating or favouring one side when chewing, plus inflamed gums are signs that your cat has dental disease and should see a vet before the problem worsens.


Foods, such as fish or liver based ingredients, can contribute to your cat's bad smelling breath. This is an easy problem to solve as you just need to change what you feed your feline friend.

Gingivitis and Stomatitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. Stomatitis is an inflammation of the mucous linings of the mouth. Cats are prone to developing these conditions, usually due to dental disease, but sometimes due to other bacteria, viruses or allergies. Your vet can advise you if your cat needs further testing to check for infections such as FIV and Calicivirus.

Metabolic diseases

Sometimes bad breath is more than just poor oral hygiene. In certain, less common cases it can be a red flag to more serious internal conditions such as kidney disease, particularly in elderly cats. A build-up of toxins in the blood can lead to bad breath, as your cat’s kidneys become overwhelmed and are unable to detoxify effectively anymore. Other conditions which could cause bad breath include diabetes and liver disease. If you have concerns, a simple trip to the vet is the best way to check your cat’s health.

What do I do if my cat has bad breath? 

The first thing to do if you notice that your cat has persistent bad breath is to book an appointment with your vet. There are so many potential causes of this symptom: you will save yourself a lot of time, effort, distress and money by having your vet give you the proper diagnosis and course of action early, and if your cat has a serious problem, you’ll help improve their quality of life.

Preventing bad breath in cats

Prevetion is better than cure, so the best way to deal with a problem like bad breath is to treat the problem before it begins. Most oral hygiene issues in your cat can be solved by keeping your cat’s teeth clean, and just like with us, the best way to do that is to brush their teeth. It helps to remove plaque before it has time to properly form on the teeth and reduces the occurrence of gum inflammation.

Many cats will allow you to brush their teeth – especially if you start them young. Your vet will have great advice on what equipment and products to use, but one thing to remember is that you should never use your own toothpaste on your cat. Cats normally will respond badly to the flavour and the ingredients may upset their digestion.

If you’d like any more information about keep your feline friend's pearly whites healthy, please talk to us at Glen Iris Veterinary Hospital. We're always here to help our pet community!


For more information, please contact us at Glen Iris Veterinary Hospital & Cattery.

We are conveniently in the City of Stonnington and Glen Eira. The purrfect location for pet parents living in Glen Iris, Malvern, Toorak, Kooyong, Armadale and surrounding areas!


- Source from our supplier, Royal Canin. Ask our friendly staff for product information.

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