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Halitosis – Bad breath in cats

Cats’ bad breath, also called halitosis, or feline halitosis can be caused by many different factors, which may or may not be related to oral hygiene.

The breath of domestic cats is cited by owners as one of the most frequent and recurring problems. In fact, a cat’s breath will never be fresh and fragrant, but when the odor becomes overly strong and fetid, it can indicate a health problem, whether it is related to oral hygiene or not. Although it is correct to say that in most cases of feline halitosis the cause is related to oral hygiene, it is also possible that there are other causes, especially if the breath is excessively bad.

Halitosis – bad breath in cats

What can cause bad breath in cats?

As mentioned above, there are a number of factors that can leave your cat with bad breath. Many factors are, in fact, related to the oral cavity, however, some systemic diseases can also cause halitosis in cats. We can affirm, however, that the most probable causes of feline halitosis are related to oral hygiene, gingivitis or periodontal diseases.

The most common diseases that can occur in the oral cavity are gingivitis and tartar. The most obvious symptoms of these diseases are:

  • Redness along the gums (with bleeding in the most serious cases)
  • Lack of appetite due to pain
  • Excessive salivation
  • Tartarus
  • Insist in the mouth with the paw insistently
  • Weight loss

However, when the cat’s bad breath is exaggeratedly strong, it is possible that other diseases are contributing or even causing the odor, and in such cases, the help of a veterinarian will be very important to determine the cause of the problem. See below the list of the most frequent causes that may be the origin of feline halitosis when the problem is not related to the most common oral issues.

  • Stomatitis – This is a disease characterized by inflammation or ulceration of the mucous membranes, and can cause halitosis in cats.
  • Gingivitis – Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, and when left untreated it can progress and affect the teeth, as the proliferation of bacteria weakens the bones.
  • Objects stuck in the mouth – Although less frequent in cats than in dogs, foreign objects trapped in the cat’s mouth can cause a bad smell.
  • Strong smelling foods – It may seem obvious, but foods with a very strong smell, like fish for example, will result in a much smelly breath.
  • Teething replacement – The exchange of puppies’ teeth, which usually occurs after 4 months of life, can result in very bad breath. This situation is, in most cases, transient, but must be closely monitored, if necessary, by a veterinarian.
  • Polyps – Polyps are benign tumors that can develop in the nasal cavities and pharynx, and can also cause halitosis.
  • Reflux – This is the medical condition in which the gastric juice returns to the esophagus, the so-called “reflux”, which can also cause halitosis.

Other issues related to systemic diseases can also cause bad breath, in general in adult or elderly animals. Some of these issues are related to diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, oral tumors, liver disease and other gastrointestinal problems. Of course, only the veterinarian is able to investigate and diagnose any of these diseases. Whenever a health issue in your cat persists, seek professional help immediately.

Halitosis - bad breath in cats

Halitosis – bad breath in cats

How can I determine the cause of my cat’s bad breath?

Regular physical examinations are strongly recommended to prevent the onset or worsening of diseases in your cat. To start, regularly check your cat’s mouth and teeth, look for bumps, lumps and bleeds and take him to a veterinary consultation at the first atypical sign. Take care of your cat’s oral health regularly and make a note of any changes in routine with regard to atypical behavior and change of routine.

Remember that visiting the veterinarian is essential to prevent or treat any disease of the oral cavity correctly, even if it is in the early stages. If you are in the habit of regularly checking and writing down your cat’s physical and behavioral conditions, even better. This information must be provided to the veterinarian during the consultation and will be extremely important to close the diagnosis.

When should I take my cat to the vet because of bad breath?

Whenever you notice important changes in your cat’s health or behavior, take him to your veterinarian immediately. The sooner a health problem is diagnosed, the easier the treatment will be and the greater the chance of a cure. Symptoms such as teeth with brown color (which may indicate tartar), significant change in breath, lack of appetite, vomiting or a visible discomfort in the mouth, indicate that it is time to visit the veterinarian as soon as possible to start the appropriate treatment quickly.

How to treat feline halitosis?

The treatment of halitosis in cats (feline halitosis) will depend on your veterinarian’s diagnosis. If the origin of halitosis is simply due to a lack of proper oral hygiene, regular brushing can solve the problem. If the cause is related to the type and quality of food he receives regularly, a change in diet can also help. However, if the problem is related to a periodontal disease, gastrointestinal background, or liver dysfunction, follow the veterinarian’s instructions correctly.

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