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My Cat Has Bad Breath that Smells Like Fish! What Do I Do?

an orange cat chews on a white toothbrush
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Since cats have a largely fish-based diet, it is expected for their breath to have an ocean-based aroma. As a concerned cat owner, you may be wondering if this odorous breath is normal for your feline friend. It depends. Cats are prone to experiencing some form of halitosis (bad breath), gingivitis, or a multitude of other dental diseases in their lifetime. Prevention is key to avoid long-term health effects caused by poor oral care.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we understand how clever cats are at hiding their illnesses or pain. We recommend annual checkups and consistent vigilance to ensure that any signs of dental disease are spotted early. Many cat owners do not know what causes bad breath or how to treat it; today we are exploring the causes of bad breath. 

What Commonly Causes Bad Breath in Cats?

Like bad breath in dogs, halitosis in cats has many different causes. The main cause of odorous breath for most of our feline friends is excessive bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria collects quickly over time and can get into the cat’s gums. Once in the gums, these microbes cause infections, tooth decay, and other serious health issues. Regular oral care is a simple way to prevent bacterial buildup.

Additional Causes of Bad Breath in Cats:

  • Strongly smelling diets
  • Plaque build-up
  • Food allergies
  • Periodontal disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory disease
  • Stomach problems

Cat Dental Care at Home

Brushing a cat’s teeth may seem like a huge obstacle. Depending on the temperament and personality of your cat, this task may be difficult or it may be simple. Despite any setbacks or hesitation, it is key to upkeep your cat’s dental care for their prolonged health. 

The relatively good news is that because bad breath in cats is so common, various companies have developed helpful tools for finicky felines. For example, there are tons of cat toothbrush and toothpaste options, various cat teeth cleaning toys, and even cat teeth cleaning treats available at pet stores nationwide. 

To effectively prevent plaque buildup and halitosis, you need to establish a weekly routine where you brush your cat’s teeth and provide them with dental cleaning treats or toys. Prevention is the best way to stop additional health problems from popping up later down the line.

When Does My Cat’s Bad Breath Require Treatment?

Dental problems in cats can remain hidden for long periods and escalate suddenly. If the bad breath from your feline is consistent and unbearable, it is time to take them to a veterinarian. Bring up any concerns you have about your cat’s mouth so the veterinarian can check for signs of periodontal disease. In the best-case scenario, they will just need a dental cleaning. In the worst-case scenario, their odorous mouth may point to serious health issues like kidney disease or diabetes. The more proactive you are in the health of your feline’s oral care, the better the health of your cat.

Your Cat’s Dental Cleaning Solution | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

As a Colorado Springs veterinary clinic, Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic strives to provide you with all the options needed to keep your feline friend happy and healthy. Whether they need a dental cleaning, an annual check-up, or x-rays to help with their mouth troubles, our office has you covered. Our compassionate team is ready to help you and your cat implement a dental care routine that eliminates bad breath. Schedule your appointment today.

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.