Obviously, no cat's breath smells like roses or peppermint or anything else delicious. But Grendel has some serious death breath. He yawns and you can smell it from across the room. We've talked to a vet and she said his tartar build up is about average for his age. She doesn't see any gum disease or other medical problems but he should get a professional cleaning before it gets worse, especially before leaving for overseas.
As a band-aid for the problem, until we get around to finding a good vet in this area (One wanted to charge us several hundred dollars for a laser cleaning. There have to be other options!), Mike bought a cat dental kit from a pet store. It came with two kinds of brushes: one that look likes a toddler toothbrush and one that's a plastic finger cap with bristles. The toothpaste smells like vanilla. (Ugh! I hate vanilla toothpaste!) We read the instructions carefully. Grendel's pretty mellow so getting him into a calm state was a piece of cake. But getting him to taste some of the toothpaste and then sit still for the brushing was more difficult. He squirmed, but I held him tight while Mike brushed. Grendel forgave us soon afterward--as soon as it was snack time, the snacks which then ruined his nice new breath. While the vanilla scent wasn't bad, it was very weird to have it coming from a cat's mouth.