Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Healthy Cats

Select An Article

Bad Breath in Cats

Font Size

ASPCA logoBad breath, also known as halitosis, can be caused by a variety of health problems. Don’t worry, your cat’s breath isn’t supposed to smell minty fresh-but if there’s an extremely strong, fetid odor, there could be an underlying medical problem.

What Could Be Causing My Cat's Bad Breath?

Most often, bad breath is caused by a build-up of odor-producing bacteria in your pet’s mouth. This can be a result of dental or gum disease; certain cats, in fact, may be especially prone to plaque and tartar. Diet and dermatological issues can also be contributing factors. However, persistent bad breath can also indicate more serious medical problems such as abnormalities in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. In all cases, halitosis is a red flag that should be investigated.

How Can I Determine the Cause of My Cat's Bad Breath?

Your veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the cause. A physical examination may reveal the cause of your cat’s problem. If not, further tests will likely be recommended. Be ready to answer questions about your cat’s diet, oral hygiene, exercise habits and general attitude and behavior.

When Is It Time to See the Vet?

The following symptoms will require veterinary attention:

  • Excessive brownish tartar on your cat’s teeth, especially when accompanied by drooling, difficulty eating and red, inflamed gums, could indicate serious dental or gum disease.
  • Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your cat has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas and/or gums could signal a liver problem.
  • Pawing at the mouth

How Is Bad Breath Treated?

Treatment depends on your vet’s diagnosis. If plaque is the culprit, your cat might require a professional cleaning. If the cause is gastrointestinal or an abnormality in your pet’s liver, kidneys or lungs, please consult your vet about steps you should take.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

cat at table
What's safe for them to eat?
Maine Coon cat breed
What they do and why cats have them.
Kitten in litterbox
How to solve them.
cat meowing
Why some cats are so talkative
cat on couch
Kitten using litter box
sleeping kitten
sad kitten looking at milk glass
cat at table
muddy dog on white sofa
Maine Coon cat breed
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats