Why Does My Cat Have Smelly Breath?(Worse Than Normal)

Cat breath

Why Does My Cat Have Smelly Breath?(Worse Than Normal)


Last week, Finnegan did his customary face-in-face at the crack of dawn routine. At the exact moment he exhaled, I inhaled and caught an unusually strong whiff of his foul-smelling halitosis. This is not to say that his cat breath ever smells pleasant, it does not. However, this particular morning was downright horrifying. I could not believe what was emanating from his furry face – its odor was beyond words. In fact, the stench was so intense that it motivated me to skip my morning coffee, grab my iPad, and research why his breath had such a barbaric smell. This post will explore why my cat’s breath smells so bad.

Is it normal for cat breath to stink?

I mean, we have to take into consideration cat’s clean their butts and everything else on their body with their tongue.

It is no big surprise that a cat’s breath will be stinky.

The primary cause of bad breath in cats is odor-producing bacteria. These bacteria are found in the mouth, specifically in the plaque that builds up on the teeth and gums. When left untreated, these bacteria can cause a foul smell to emanate from the cat’s mouth.

In addition to the presence of bacteria, a cat’s unique grooming habits can also contribute to bad breath. Cats are known for bathing themselves with their tongues, which can transfer bacteria from other parts of their body to their mouth.

RELATED: The Anatomy of a Cat Tongue

Cat breath brushing teeth

It is important for cat owners to be aware of these factors and take steps to maintain their feline’s oral hygiene. Regular brushing of the teeth, regular veterinary check-ups, and a balanced diet can all help to prevent the build-up of bacteria and keep a cat’s breath fresh and clean.

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It is not uncommon for cats to have bad breath due to various factors. However, cats are more prone to this issue as most owners do not regularly brush their teeth or take them for professional teeth cleaning. It is important to note that the severity of the bad breath also matters. If the smell is particularly strong and foul, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying issue. In such cases, it is recommended to take your cat to a vet for a thorough check-up and proper treatment.

Any kind of odor that is unusual or extremely potent can be a sign of a bigger problem. It is important to have your cat checked out by a vet to see if there is an underlying medical issue that will need to be taken care of. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry. I did call my vet and I will give you an update on Finnegan and what could be the primary cause of his atrocious halitosis at the end of this post.

RELATED: Purrfect Care: The Case For Cat Friendly Only Vets

Why does my cat’s breath smell so bad?

There are so many reasons your favorite feline could be a dragon breathing, godzilla feces, smelling fur face. Probably the number one reason ANY cat’s breath (and dog too by the way) stinks so bad is the obvious reason. No brush, lots of bacteria.

If you did not brush your teeth for weeks or even months at a time, you would have some pretty stinky chompers too. But our teeth would also start to rot out, we would have cavities, rotten fangs and gum disease. Since humans eat so much sugar, we get lots of cavities. Cats do not really get cavities because they do not eat sugar.

Here is a quick snapshot of just a pawfull of reasons your purr vessel has a portal filled with toxic air.

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Bad breathFood stuck in tooth
Brush cat’s teeth

Naturally unlodge itself
Bad breath
Gums swollen
Plaque build-up
Brush cat’s teeth
Professional teeth cleaning at vet
Bad breath
Gums and mouth swollen
Gums bleeding
StomatitisVet visit asap for possible antibiotic treatment, anti-swelling medication, professional teeth cleaning, possible tooth/teeth removal

Bad breath
Witness cat eating feces

Need to identify underlying cause;
possible causes: vitamin and mineral deficiency, parasites, anxiety, fear, pica
Vet visit, cat behaviorist
Special diet, interaction adjustments,
vitamins, play dates

Cat Breath Follow-Up

These are only a few reasons your feline might be suffering from severe halitosis, so be sure to check your cat’s breath with a follow-up inhale all day and week. If her breath gets normal again, she probably had a piece of food stuck in her tooth giving off a nasty stench. It probably worked it’s way out without your intervention. But if you still smell a garbage dump in the choppers, call your vet.

BTW – cats do not get cavities!

Schedule a visit with your cat doctor, let them know the situation and make sure you have them do a teeth cleaning while you are there. Your vet can even give you some tips on how to prevent this from happening again or getting worse than just halitosis.

And that leads me to my next discussion……

Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly.

RELATED: Cat Eating Habits: When You Need To Worry

Should I brush my cat’s teeth for better breath?

I know, I know…. I don’t do it this often either. I really should, and I have always intended to do better with Finnegan’s oral hygiene, but I honestly forget.

Yes, you should brush your cat’s teeth regularly and the ideal amount is once daily.

My cat is not exactly the type to sit in my lap and let me clip his claws or brush his teeth while he relaxingly watches. I have seen cats on videos (like YouTube and Tik Tok) act amiable and agreeable while getting cleaned up by a person, but my cat is not one of them. He would prefer to take care of it all himself, thanks anyways!

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Okay, enough excuses.

Lets all decide to do better.

And congratulations if you already do brush your cat’s teeth daily; you have my total respect and admiration!

The ideal amount is once daily, but if you can’t be a perfectionist about it, my Vet suggests I do what I can. So that is what I do and that is honestly… well I am not going to put it in writing.

Brush your cat’s teeth. Here is a video showing exactly how to do this.

RELATED: Safeguarding Cat Teeth With Good Dental Hygiene

What type of teeth do cat’s have?

Cats have four different types of teeth and they each play an important role.

INCISORFood snatchers
CANINEBiting, tearing, ripping

Respect the teeth.

As you can see from the chart, they all play an important role in your cat’s hunting, gathering, chewing and protecting activities.

Here is a very basic visual of a cat’s teeth.



The canine teeth are fang-like and tend to be sharp (but not too sharp). They are used for stabbing and piercing their prey.


These are the little teeth up front. They a grabbers of food and are flatter than a fang. Their purpose is to pluck the food up after the canine stabs it.


They are located towards the back of the mouth and start the chewing process.


Molars are in the very back of the mouth and are used for chewing.

What should I do about my cat’s bad breath?

If your cat’s bad breath persists, you must get him to the vet. It is important to eliminate any severe, underlying disorders that could be causing the stench. Even if the condition is not an emergency, having a cleaning can prevent a more extreme issue.

Then tomorrow, see if you can’t brush your cat’s teeth again.

Even if your cat’s or kitten’s bad breath cleared up on his own, this might be a good time to commit to a regular maintenance oral hygiene routine. Sometimes thinking about long term solutions can be overwhelming, so perhaps just committing to today.


Having a pet with bad breath is totally normal.

(Any dog owners judging, oh pllllleeeaaaasseeee!)

But having a cat who has bad breath can also be a warning sign for something more serious.

Regular home brushings are the absolute ideal solution for a pro-active strategy and also an ongoing maintenance plan.

Starting felines when they are kittens so they are used to the cleaning is ideal. I wish I would have done this with Finnegan.

As for Finnegan, I am so relived to report he has a relatively clean bill of health including his teeth HOWEVER, my vet did notice one molar that might need to be removed in the future, due to tooth decay. If I start brushing his teeth regularly, I can pro-long this condition, if not eliminate it.

Now over to you!

Have you ever had any times you cat breath smells like garbage?

Do your brush your cat’s teeth daily?

This post is all about, ‘my cat’s breath stinks’ and what to do about it.