First things first, a cat’s breath should not be super smelly.
Really, I’ve only had one cat who consistently has had bad breath, and all the other times, the bad breath my cats had was incredibly temporary (although sometimes food dependent).
But we’ll get into that in a hot second.
Before that I’d quickly like to ask you to let me know in the comments section what you think the most common reasons for a cat’s smelly breath are, AND what you think a cat’s breath should smell like.
Because in my experience, it’s not bad, not good, it’s a sort of neutral, leaning-on-kinda-nice smell?
And I’ve heard theories that this is because of the enzyme in cat saliva or something like that, but I honestly don’t know a thing about this so take that at face value and don’t assume it’s completely true.
Okay now to get into the reasons why a cat’s breath can smell off, funky, kinda fishy, or even like cat food.
Why Cats Breath Smells Like Cat Food Sometimes
1. The cat food you’re using could be making your cat’s breath smell.
I think this is the most common reason for a cat’s breath smelling like cat food.
Especially if a cat’s breath smells almost exactly the same as his or her pet food.
And especially if your cat’s breath smells most potent of that smell right after he or she eats. And if it fades away the longer your cat hasn’t eaten? That’s a most likely giveway.
Say you feed your cat salmon cat food and your cat’s breath smells of salmon specifically, and not just a fishy smell – I’d say you’re safe to call it and just assume your particular cat food is making your particular cat’s breath smell of it.
I had this problem a number of times when I had no choice but to switch cat foods, or if the formula changed on one of the cat foods I was using.
I fixed it quite quickly and easily though, so don’t worry if you think this is the problem.
Okay so what do you do? A couple options here:
1. Switch cat food protein types.
Like away from Salmon and to some lesser smelly protein, halibut for instance.
Or to something like chicken. Or beef or lamb or whatever type of cat food you want to try!
2. Switch cat food brands.
Sometimes – okay most of the time – it’s not really the protein type that’s at issue it’s more or less the formulation of the particular cat food.
So if you don’t want to try switching protein types, or you’ve tried that before and it hasn’t worked, it’s time to try a new brand.
I’ve had luck with cereal free cat foods not producing stinky breath all that often, no matter how much of the content is protein, and no matter what protein type I use.
But I had to try cereal free cat foods since one of my cats has allergies to grains in foods (he vomits far more frequently and has the runs if he has food with cereals), so that’s the only reason I know.
These are usually higher quality foods to begin with, and I try to look for the highest animal protein possible, as protein that isn’t from an animal in my opinion doesn’t really help cats nutritionally very much (you can absolutely correct me if you think I’m wrong!).
Give one a shot if you think your cat’s breath is always stinky.
2. Your cat may have dental problems or issues with his or her teeth.
The slinkiest breath is usually caused by a dental. Cats can have problems with their teeth too!
To rule this out, it’s simple, just go visit your vet and ask him or her to make sure your cat’s teeth are great, explaining there’s an awful cat breath smell that smells of cat food or fish or however you would describe it most of the time.
3. My personal opinion: cat acne/blackheads could indirectly be causing your cat’s breath to stink?
I have legit never seen a single soul say this before and you can absolutely call me crazy and say this has nothing to do with anything…
But I feel sometimes that when I have a cat that has acne on his or her lips, like essentially the rim of his or her mouth, sometimes their breath stinks more?
I honestly don’t know what it is. Maybe the blackheads cause their mouths to hurt so they leave their mouth open more and then they end up creating more drool and saliva as well and this has something to do with the funky smell? I just don’t know.
Either way, I’ve seen a lot of places that talk about getting rid of cat acne.
For me, the only thing that’s worked optimally is maintaining it staying away by wiping their chins with just plain water and then drying it off, and if there’s already a blackhead, trying to pull it off if it comes off easy, and if not, rubbing over the area with a dry tissue to see if it comes loose that way.
Then after that I’ll wipe the area with water and dry with a dry tissue.
4. My second personal opinion: not drinking enough could be causing your cat to have bad breath?
This is at the bottom of the list for a reason, and it might be really stupid, but I find when I have my cats drink more water, they’re usually a lot less likely to have bad breath.
There are plenty of techniques you can use to get your cats to drink more water, but I honestly just mix cat food with water twice a day and hand it to them (I use dry, you can use wet or dry, doesn’t matter).
They eat up, they get more hydrated, mum’s happy, their poops are less dehydrated looking, they pee a good amount (in terms of how much and how frequently), their hair looks shinier, they cough up less hairballs, things are just better.
Your Thoughts on Cat Breath Smelling of Cat Food?
Why do you think some cats’ breath smells like cat food sometimes?
If someone came to you with this problem what would you tell them to change or look into first?
Have you ever had this problem with a cat before? What did the issue turn out to be? Did you manage to fix it?
Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!