Your cat can experience oral health issues just like people can. That's why it's essential for pet parents to be proactive about keeping their cat or kitten's teeth clean. Today, our Boulder County vets share a few tips on developing and maintaining a successful oral health care routine for your feline friend.
Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean
Cats are stoic creatures that will often hide physical pain out of instinct. Nonetheless, our feline friends can experience oral health issues which can be painful or even detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing.
If you have a cat, you must be vigilant about your kitty's oral health and keep your furry companion's teeth clean. Being proactive about your cat's oral health can help to prevent painful oral health problems or detect and treat minor issues before they become more serious problems. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health may also help you avoid having to have your cat undergo costly procedures to address problems that could have been avoided.
Annual Dental Checkups for Optimal Feline Oral Health
When you book your cat's next annual checkup at the vet, request that a dental checkup be part of that appointment. This will give your vet an opportunity 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
By the age of three years, it is estimated that more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have tooth and gum disease. Establishing a daily dental care routine for your cat early on can help you avoid becoming one of the 70% of cats who suffer from 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.
How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
Needless to say, you’ll want to ease your cat into a new toothbrushing routine in order to help keep them calm and relaxed throughout the process. Here's how you should brush your cat's teeth.
- 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 grown accustomed to having you massage her teeth and gums on a regular basis, you can gradually introduce a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste (never use your own toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to our feline companions). Look for flavors that they will enjoy, 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 tiny 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 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, 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 her teeth cleaned within a single session.
Oral Health Alternatives to Brushing
If the brushing process causes your cat undue stress, he or she may scratch or bite. If this is the case with your cat, you may want to save your fingers by putting plaque remover in their drinking water, giving your cat specially designed chew toys, or giving kitty dental treats and plaque-fighting cat food.
Whichever at-home method you choose to keep your cat’s teeth clean, remember that your kitty will also need annual professional dental cleaning by a qualified veterinarian to help keep their teeth in tip-top condition.
To learn more about helping your kitten or puppy achieve and maintain optimal oral health download the information below.
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.