Valentine’s Day this month, should be a time when we can all cuddle up with our furry friends as well as our human ones! But if your cat suffers from bad breath, that's the last thing you'll be wanting to do.
Here are some of the reasons for bad breath in your cat
By far the most common problem in cats (as well as dogs, and dare we say it humans too!) is lack of mouth hygiene. In short this means that bacteria builds up on the teeth and mixes with food and saliva to cause a smelly substance called plaque. This turns in to tartar and more and more bacteria get trapped around the teeth and gums as age progresses. Without cleaning – either regular brushing or scaling and polishing by a veterinary professional, the mouth will get smellier! Cats that hunt regularly may have cleaner mouths than those that don't, as eating the prey can act a bit like a tooth brush!
There are some other things that will cause bad breath in your cat and our advice would always be to get them checked out at the vets as soon as possible. Especially if the smell comes on suddenly as this could indicate something even more serious.
- Things stuck in the mouth: Cats often scavenge. They are particularly prone to getting bits of chicken bone stuck in their mouths or in between their teeth – even if you didn't give it to them!
- Upper respiratory tract infections: Cats are prone to viruses which cause colds and snuffly noses. These are often accompanied by smelly breath with or without mouth ulcers.
- Vomiting and regurgitation: This can be quite normal in cats - so long as it is not too frequent - and can be associated with smelly breath.
- Mouth tumours: Sadly these are quite common in old cats. They often go unnoticed, until they start to bleed when the cat eats.
- Kidney disease: Renal disease is common in old cats. One of the symptoms is really smelly breath and sore gums. This disease is often accompanied with drinking and urinating a lot.
- Gingivostomatitis: Inflammation of the gums and mouth can cause the breath to smell unpleasant. It is often very painful for the cat to open their mouth or eat. To find out more about dental disease in cats >
- Fish based diets: As with dogs, any diet based on fish protein may give rise to fishy breath. Not nice to cuddle up to!
- Kittens teething – When kittens start to lose their baby teeth at around 4 months + of age and the adult ones are coming through, they do get very smelly breath. You do not need to worry about it as it will pass within a few weeks.
You can do a lot to prevent or improve your cat’s breath – maybe even a present for Valentine’s Day!
- Regular dental check ups are essential
- Buy your cat a toothbrush and tooth paste. Watch a video on how to do it!
- Feed prescription veterinary diets specially designed to keep teeth clean. Veterinary chews can also be useful and your cat will enjoy them. Especially those with cat nip in! You can buy these at your local veterinary practice >
- Allow access to the outdoors for hunting if your cat wishes to.
- Have a scale and polish when your vet suggest it – a lot of people find it impossible to clean their cat’s teeth by
Have a wonderful cuddle some time on Valentine's Day! Remember, don't hesitate to ask your friendly veterinary practice if you need help with any health care issues.