Do some cats just have bad breath?

chi83October 16, 2009

Hi all,

I have three cats, and one of them has pretty bad breath. I mean, no cat breath ever smells great but one is especially bad where I have to breathe through my mouth when he licks my face or yawns near me so I don't smell it.

I know there are a lot of health reasons that could cause bad breath, but this has been going on since I got him, about 4 years ago. He's had numerous vet visits since then and no problems. He seems in great health otherwise, his teeth are fine, he eats normally. He just has always had really bad breath.

I've tried different food throughout the years and it doesn't seem to make a difference. Has anyone experienced bad breath not related to a health issue, or do you know of any health issues that could be going on for so long without getting worse/serious? I would think an abscess or a tumor or kidney failure or something would have become much worse in 4 years.

Thanks for any insight.

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Gingivitis and stomatitis smell really bad. There could be little or no tartar but you will see redness on the gums or the back of the mouth. That's what smells. Sometimes the problem isn't seen on routine physical because it is way in the back of the mouth and most cats are not so cooperative in allowing the vet to look back there. You're right about kidney failure not being the problem; a cat with uremia would not survive for 4 years.

OTOH, yes, some cats do just have bad breath. I think certain people can detect certain smells better than other smells, and sometimes one cat's breath is just overwhelming to one person when another person isn't bothered.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 11:01AM
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I adopted "Mary" 9 years ago. When we first met I remember thinking, wow she has stinky breath for a 5 month old! Maybe it's because I was used to the smell of my other cat and hers is just different. Well today Mary has a brother and sister who smell fine and she still has the stinkiest breath at 9. I also moan when she licks me or yawns near me. I remember reading somewhere that poor nutrition when she was a kitty might have something to do with it.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 1:11PM
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Have you fed yogurt to your cats? I've heard that the lack of probiotics in the stomach/intestines causes food not to be digested so it breaks down and produces gases that are expelled.

If your cat doesn't have dental problems, doesn't have an infection (trial of antibiotics made no difference) and has no known GI issues, try improving GI health with supliments to improve digestion.

Most commonly, I have see cats with bad breath have associated dental issues or nasal/upper resperatory infections.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 11:35PM
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Well, I took my cats to the vet yesterday for a check up and annual vaccines.

This was a new vet as I recently moved to the area. He was quite old, hard of hearing and seemed nice enough. He was a bit old-school in his methods - wrote down everything by hand on index cards and he took the weight of my cats by dragging over a rusted scale, picking the cat up, stepping on it then subtracting his own weight.

I mentioned the breath thing to him and he looked in my cat's mouth, picked at his teeth and said he had picked off some tartar and that should help the problem. The cat's gums start bleeding immediately. He also said his back teeth might be irritating his gums and I might want to look into extracting them.

Anyway, the point of this is that the vet said I should use regular mouthwash and wet a cotton ball and clean my cat's teeth with it. Aside from the obvious trauma to the cat, does this seem like a good idea? He said regular human mouthwash but don't a lot of those have alcohol?

I haven't done it yet...I'm not a vet but my instincts tell me this would be a bad idea. Any insight? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 5:46PM
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This doesn't sound good at all.

I wouldn't use "human" mouthwash on any other animal, & I'm sure it won't help the problem.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 6:51PM
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I have 5 cats, all unrelated. For some time now, I've noticed that one of them has had increasingly bad breath. I finally had her checked by a vet. Turns out she has gingivitis and resorption. She just (1.5 weeks ago) had her teeth cleaned and 3 extracted. Bad breath problem solved. Unfortunately, the resorption (spl?) is a disease that will most likely recur. According to the vet, she just has bad teeth genes, so I'll have to take extra care with her and now brush her teeth and keep a close eye on her. I feel so bad that she was in pain for so long, the poor little thing. Cats just do not show pain. Besides the bad breath, there were other signs, like that she preferred soft food, had red gums, etc. So the vet bill was over $1,000. I know! That's what I said!!! Thankfully, I was able to pay it right now. My sister, who does cat rescue, had a cat with the same issues and her cat also had 3 teeth extracted. She has a vet that she loves and obviously uses a lot. Her vet charged her less than a third of what I paid. So the moral of that story is check around, but do get references and/or referrals.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 8:17PM
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