Bad breath in cats
General information and causes
Bad breath often indicates an underlying problem such as:
- Dental disease – a very common cause of bad breath in cats.
- Kidney disease - can cause breath to smell like ammonia (similar to bleach).
- Something stuck in the mouth - if something is stuck in your cat’s mouth or throat (such as a bone), it will start to smell after a while. You may also notice your cat pawing at their mouth or face.
- Airway infections - often cause bad breath.
- Diabetes - can cause breath to smell sweet (similar to pear drops or nail polish remover).
- Diet - certain smelly cat foods can cause bad breath.
- Gut problems - a gut infection or blockage will often make the breath smell bad, but you are likely to notice other signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting or stomach pain before noticing bad breath.
- Liver disease - can cause foul, sweet, musty breath.
- Mouth cancer - cancers in the mouth can become infected and smelly.
Published: June 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst