Vet Blog

My Cat’s Breath Stinks – What Can I Do?

April 06, 2021

Does your cat have smelly breath?

Are you getting tired of smelling it every time your feline friend wants to cuddle? Do you find yourself worrying about what could be causing her breath to smell so foul? If any of this is true of you and your cat, you've come to the right place.

In the article below, you'll find information about some of the most common causes of bad breath in cats and what, if anything, you can do about it. Your cat's bad breath can be managed at home or it may require a vet visit.

Causes of Bad Breath in Cats

There are many different things that could cause a cat to have bad breath.

New Food

If you change your cat's food or treats to something new, you may notice that she has bad breath for a while. This is likely just because you aren't used to the smell of this new food on her breath, and the problem should clear up within a couple of weeks.

Eating Something Bad

If your cat eats something bad-such as something rotten, or something out of the garbage-she may also have bad breath for a short time. You can give your cat dental freshening treats to help combat short-term bad breath with known causes such as these.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is by far the most common cause of bad breath in cats. Cats who have developed tooth decay or severe gum disease may have sour, bad breath from the rotting tissue in their mouths. They may also have bad breath from the presence of infection in the gums.


Injuries to the mouth can cause similar problems. If your cat is injured in her mouth and develops an abscess, this can quickly lead to bad breath too. Your veterinarian will help you figure out the right treatment method for your cat's condition as well as for her bad breath moving forward.


When left unmanaged, diabetes can quickly cause cats to go into a state known as ketoacidosis. When this happens, a cat's breath may develop a sickeningly sweet smell sort of like the smell of rotting fruit. If you notice this smell on your cat's breath, she needs to see a veterinarian right away, as she may be at risk of death if the condition is not managed quickly.

Although diabetes can't be cured or fully treated, it can be managed, and cats can live a long, otherwise healthy life when dealing with this illness. Talk to your vet for more information.

Liver or Kidney Failure

Liver or kidney failure may cause ammonia to build up within your cat's body. Over time, this buildup of ammonia in the blood system may cause your cat's breath to smell foul like ammonia as well. Some cat owners who notice this problem in their cats report a urine-like smell in their breath.

Liver and kidney failure don't have a cure. However, you can work with your vet to manage these conditions as long as possible with your cat.

Frequent Vomiting

If your cat is very sick with a health problem that causes her to vomit frequently, the repeated vomiting episodes may be contributing to her bad breath, too. In this situation, there is little you can do, especially if the underlying condition is a terminal one.

Talk to your vet about giving your cat fresh breath supplements. Some are safer than others for cats with illnesses, but your vet can let you know which ones to consider for your pet.

Lack of Grooming

If you don't keep up with grooming your cat regularly, including brushing her teeth, she is likely to develop bad breath in a short amount of time. Although cats bathe themselves, they can benefit from a few baths per year with the help of their human family members, too. This way, their coats smell better, and their breath won't stink as badly from licking themselves, too.

Although it can be difficult to brush a cat's teeth, this important grooming step can go a long way toward helping your cat's breath stay fresher for longer. If you can't brush her teeth yourself, take your cat to the vet or a groomer instead.

Bay-Porte Animal Hospital Can Help

Most causes of bad breath in cats are mild to moderate, although many of them may require a trip to the vet to help the underlying problem in question. Even the more severe causes of bad breath in cats may be treatable or manageable if you respond quickly enough to the issue.

By taking your cat to the vet soon after her bad breath manifests itself, you can help her recover from the underlying cause more efficiently. Any time your cat's breath changes suddenly without any noticeable cause (such as a new food), a vet visit may be in order.