Dealing with bad breath in cats

Bad breath or Halitosis in cats is rarely seen but if you do become aware of a bad smell in your cat’s mouth then you should attend to it immediately as problems of a lasting nature can occur.

There are certain breeds of cats who are inclined to suffer from Gingivitis and this is a problem that your veterinarian can keep a regular check on. It can be very unpleasant and painful for the animal and if allowed to be untreated, chronic gum problems will develop.
Cats live mainly on fish and meat and as a result their breath can often have a strong smell. That is not to say the cat has a real problem but if it continues, then gums and teeth should be checked either by the pet parent, if they are able to handle the cat with ease, or your veterinarian to make sure that there is no infection. The difference between breath that is merely due to the diet they are fed and a breath that is foul smelling is very obvious.
Bad breath: Bad breath or Halitosis is not normal in domestic animals and this generally indicates the possibility of dental problems. Broken teeth and swelling of the face are a fair guide that your cat needs attention so she can be returned to good health and continue to live a happy life.
Tooth problem: On opening the cat’s mouth, you will quickly detect a tooth that is badly decayed and rotting. Sometimes if the teeth are in a healthy condition, the really bad breath may be caused by kidney problems or poor digestion that can go with flu or gastroenteritis. Seek veterinary advice immediately.
Gum problem: Gums that are unhealthy and there is a lack of dental care can be due to plaque build up. Plaque should be removed on a regular basis as once it begins to surround the cat’s teeth, the mouth can become very painful and your cat will begin to reject her food. As plaque builds up on the tooth, the gum surface can be pushed away from the tooth and in many cases the tooth decays so badly and it has to be removed. If available, raw chicken necks are very good for a cat to chew as this will help to keep the teeth clean and the gums pink and healthy and free from bad odour. Gums will soon become very red and inflamed and unhealthy if the diet is too soft. Unhealthy gums and teeth make for an unhealthy cat with very unpleasant breath.
Take care of the diet: A cat who lives on soft, mushy food will soon suffer from bad breath and poor oral hygiene. Feeding larger pieces of raw meat and a serving of cat biscuits allows the cat to chew on their food rather than lap it up. Some tinned food is acceptable but not as a permanent diet.
Check the teeth and gums: It is a good idea to gently roll the lip up to show the lower teeth and the upper cheek teeth. Gums should be smooth and pink in colour and the teeth white and firmly fixed in position. Do this on a regular basis so you are fully aware of the health of your cat’s teeth and gums and free from very unpleasant odour.
(Joan E Henderson is based in Australia and she has judged furry felines in many other countries including USA, Bermuda, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Philippines and New Zealand).