In order to best protect your cat's dental and overall health, it is important to keep up with routine dental care. Our La Mesa vets discuss some of the ways to easily clean your cats teeth and how to get them used to the process.
Cat Teeth Cleaning
Cats often hide physical pain out of instinct (thousands of years of natural selection will do that to an animal). However, our feline friends can experience oral health issues just like we can.
That’s why cat parents need to be ever-diligent about their oral health and keeping our furry companion’s teeth clean, so problems can be caught as soon as possible and hopefully, both pain and uncomfortable and expensive procedures can be avoided.
Bring Your Cat in for Routine Dental Care
As part of their annual visit to the veterinarian, cats should have a dental checkup. During the appointment, your vet will evaluate your cat’s oral health in addition to their overall physical health and let you know if they need a professional veterinary dental cleaning or surgery.
Stick to a Daily Oral Health Care Routine
Just like people, our cats need a daily oral health and dental care routine to make sure their teeth stay as clean and healthy as possible. When they’re young, it’s a good idea to get your kitty used to having their teeth brushed.
Get the okay to do this from your vet first, as even kittens may have oral health issues that will need correcting before their teeth can be brushed.
As you might imagine, you’ll want to ease your cat into this routine, so wait until she’s calm and relaxed, and follow these steps:
- Gently lift her lips, then use your finger to massage her teeth and gums for a few seconds.
- Start with low-key expectations - you may only reach one or two teeth the first few times you try this. Stop before she 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 her teeth and gums on a regular basis, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for cats (never use your own toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to our feline companions). Look for flavors that appeal to them, 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 test a few different flavors). Find a brush that has soft bristles made for cats’ delicate gums.
While some cat owners find success with a small piece of soft gauze, others find a finger brush works for their felines. Still others apply dental gel with the toothbrush or a finger, and have the gel do the work for them.
When you do start brushing the teeth, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated (it may take her weeks before you find she tolerates having all of her teeth cleaned within a session).
Beware that your cat may react by scratching or biting if teeth cleaning stresses them out too much. If you opt to spare your fingers, you can also consider dropping additives such as plaque remover into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys or providing dental treats and cat food.
Whether you use teeth brushing, special treats or food, chew toys or drinking water additives, there are several products out there that can help with keeping your cat’s teeth clean. Of course, they’ll also need a regular professional dental cleaning performed by a qualified veterinarian to keep their teeth in tip-top condition.