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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Especially with very cuddly cats that like to give their cat parents a kiss or something similar, you are most likely to notice it: Suddenly you notice a very unpleasant smell coming from the cat’s mouth. In most cases the reasons are less worrying, but you should take bad breath in cats seriously, especially if it becomes a permanent condition. Serious health issues could be to blame and these should not be underestimated.

Why does my cat have an unpleasant smell coming out of her mouth?

When your cat smells out of its mouth, it is not always a cause for concern. Most cats smell unpleasantly from their mouths immediately after eating, some more than others. Some outdoor cats bring home “little presents” from time to time, so it’s understandable that your pet doesn’t smell very inviting from his mouth. 

These smells disappear over time, which is the crucial difference to other possible causes. Observe your pet and smell the mouth every now and then. If you can still detect a very strong and unpleasant odour, there may be other reasons for the cat’s bad breath.

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Causes of bad breath in cats

A very penetrating smell over a long period of time can be an indication of a health problem and should definitely be checked out by a doctor. As a first step, you should consult a veterinarian.

  • Very often it is due to the teeth or gums: Tartar, dental decay, periodontitis, inflammation of the mouth (gingivitis), infections, tumours, etc. can cause bad breath in your cat. 
  • Foreign objects between the teeth: Various foreign bodies such as blades of grass or food scraps can also get stuck between the teeth and be quite smelly.
  • Metabolic and organ diseases: Diabetes, stomach and intestinal problems, parasite infestation, diseases of the liver, respiratory tract or kidney, among others, can also cause bad breath. 

Good to know: in the case of kidney problems, your cat may smell like urine coming out of its mouth; if the cat has diabetes, you may notice a sweetish odour.

As you can see, the list of possible causes is quite long. If you cannot immediately find a foreign body in your pets mouth and remove it, a trip to the veterinary clinic is always advisable.  

Strong and persistent bad breath can be a sign of a serious health problem in your beloved cat, which in many cases can also be accompanied by pain. 

What to do if your cat has bad breath?

Since in many cases the teeth are to blame for bad breath in cats, your pet’s dental health should be taken very seriously. But what can you do? Cats are very clean animals and often spend hours grooming their fur, but they rarely brush their teeth.

In addition to regular check-ups with your vet, there are a few things you can do as an owner to support your cat’s dental health:

  • It is obvious that you take over the brushing of the teeth. With a special toothbrush or a microfibre finger brush for cats, it’s quite easy to remove food residues and the like and to prevent tartar build-up. Provided, of course, your pet is willing to put up with this procedure. 
  • Dental care snacks can support dental health. Choose natural dried chewing products, such as tendons or the like. 
  • Chewing on matatabi or similar can stimulate saliva flow, which fights bacteria.
  • Change the food: Grains and sugar in the food attack the enamel.

Important: It is usually said that cats refuse to eat when they are in pain. This is not always the case. Some cats show pain very late in life. After all, those who appear “weak” in nature are considered easy prey. That is why cats often hide (tooth) pain very well. 



Bad breath in cats is not only unpleasant for the cat parents. If a health problem is the trigger, other symptoms and possible pain are usually present. For the love of your pet, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Also, make sure your pet has regular dental care/checks, as teeth are often the culprit.