My cat has bad breath – what can I do?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra - I have a female cat her age is not know she was a stray but she is an adult cat. I have noticed that she has really bad breath so bad it turns my stomach. She is constantly trying to do something that appears to be tasting or swallowing and her saliva seems to be really thick or she has cotton mouth, it is really annoying me cause she wants to get in my face and love on me and I can't stand how she smells.

Help I don't know what to do should I change her food or brush her teeth?

Faedra Stauffer


Hi – thanks for your email. Bad breath, or "halitosis", is caused by a variety of problems including bad teeth, gum infections or mouth infections. You can try brushing your cat's teeth but if there is a lot of tartar or bad teeth, brushing is probably not going to help. I'd recommend taking her to your vet to evaluate the underlying problem causing the bad breath.

It may be that she needs her teeth cleaned or teeth pulled. It is hard to tell without examining the mouth.

An article that might be helpful to you is Halitosis (Bad Breath) in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.