Like ourselves, our cats can experience oral health issues, making it essential for pet parents to be proactive about keeping their cat or kitten's teeth clean. Today, our New Hope vets share a few tips on creating a successful oral health care routine for your feline friend.
Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean
Cats are stoic animals that are well-known for hiding physical pain and discomfort until any underlying health issues have become advanced. Nonetheless, our feline friends can experience oral health issues which can be painful or even detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing.
If you're a cat parent, it's important to be diligent about your kitty's oral health and keeping your furry companion’s teeth clean. Being proactive about your cat's oral health can help to prevent your cat from developing painful oral health problems, or help to detect and treat minor issues before they develop into more serious concerns. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health may also help you to avoid the need for your cat to undergo expensive procedures to address issues that could have been prevented.
Annual Dental Checkups to Maintain Feline Dental Health
The next time you schedule your cat's annual veterinary examination, be sure to request that a dental checkup be part of that appointment. This will allow your vet to evaluate your cat’s oral health in addition to their overall physical health, and let you know if your kitty requires professional dental cleaning or surgery.
A Daily Dental Care Routine for Your Kitty
It is estimated that more than 70% of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of 3 years old. By establishing a daily oral care routine early on, you could help your cat avoid dental issues.
While your cat is still young is the best time to begin establishing a regular tooth brushing routine however, it's a good idea to get the okay from your vet first. Even a sweet young kitten could have oral health issues that will need correcting before its teeth can be brushed.
Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
Needless to say, you’ll want to ease your cat into a new toothbrushing routine to help keep them calm and relaxed throughout the process. Here's how you should brush your cat's teeth.
- Gently lift their lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for a few seconds.
- Adjust your expectations - you may only reach one or two teeth the first few times you try this. Stop before your cat gets too annoyed.
- Give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. The goal is to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task.
- Once your kitty has become used to having you massage their teeth and gums regularly, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for cats (never use your personal toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to animals). Look for pet toothpaste flavors that appeal to cats, such as beef or chicken.
- Start with the brushing as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger (you may even have the opportunity to try a few different flavors to see what your cat likes). Find a brush that has soft bristles made for cats’ delicate gums.
While some pet parents successfully clean their cat's teeth using a small piece of soft gauze, others find a finger brush works for their felines. Still another approach is to apply dental gel to their cat's teeth using a toothbrush or a finger, which allows the gel to do the work for them.
When you do begin brushing your cat's teeth, simply move along the gum line, working quickly but calmly, then stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It's important to note that it may take weeks before your kitty will tolerate having all of their teeth cleaned within a single session.
Alternatives to Brushing
If the brushing process stresses your cat too much, they may react by struggling, scratching, or biting. If this is the case for your cat, you may want to consider mixing additives such as plaque remover into their drinking water, supplying your cat with specially designed chew toys, or providing kitty with dental treats and plaque-fighting cat food.
Whichever method you choose to keep your cat’s teeth clean, remember that your kitty also requires annual professional dental cleaning by a qualified veterinarian to help keep their teeth in tip-top condition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.