Since cats seem to take care of themselves for the most part, dental problems don’t usually factor into an owners day. Some cats however, suffer from bad breath, plaque, tartar and periodontal disease, so cleaning your cat’s teeth is a good idea.
This might not sound so easy, but with a little fortitude, you can make a significant difference to your cat’s health and their teeth. After all, if you keep your cat’s teeth in good shape, they won’t suffer the pain of dental disease and you won’t have to take them to the vet so often!
So here are five tips for keeping your cat’s teeth in tip top shape, starting with brushing their teeth.
1. How to brush your cat’s teeth
You might need to get your cat used to this slowly, so be prepared to armour yourself with patience, treats and lots of positive reinforcement (for the cat, not you!). You need to use a small head toothbrush that’s nice and soft, and toothpaste that’s designed for cats, not human toothpaste. So start by sitting down with your cat on your lap and let them lick a small dab of toothpaste from your finger. This gets them used to the taste of the toothpaste. You can also use the toothbrush as a toy, playing with your cat so they get used to it, before taking the next big step.
Gently open your cat’s mouth and with toothbrush loaded with toothpaste, brush their teeth from front to back in an oval pattern, rather than straight up and down. Try to brush between and under the teeth if possible. Only do this for a minute, but make sure to do it every day.
If your cat’s teeth are painful, their gums are inflamed and red, or they have bad breath, they may need to visit the vet for a dental check-up. All they might need is a professional clean, rather than expensive surgery, but it’s best to be safe than sorry.
2. Encourage your cat to eat dental treats
Just as there are dog treats that help to keep a dog’s teeth healthy, there are also dental treats for cats. Chewing helps to clear away plaque and tartar from your cat’s teeth, so the more they chew, the better! You can find a range of dental chews for cats in pet stores and online, and in many lovely delicious flavours.
3. Add crunchy dry kibble to your cat’s diet
Since chewing helps to keep your cat’s teeth healthy, crunchy kibble is a great addition to their diet. Not just any kibble however, you want something healthy, so check out the VOHC website for options (Veterinary Oral Health Council).
4. Add a dental rinse to your cat’s water
You can do this for dogs, horses and cats! An oral health rinse helps to prevent a build-up of plaque on their teeth, as well as gingivitis. You can purchase them at your vets or online and add them to your cat’s water bowl.
5. Regular dental checks
Take your cat to the vet for regular checks including a dental check. This will prevent any unexpected problems occurring and your cat will have nice shiny teeth!