Routine dental care is a key part of your cat's overall health—but most cats don't receive the oral healthcare they need. Today, our Parrish vets explain how to clean your cat's teeth and keep their mouth healthy and pain-free.
Cat Dental Care
Cat's have a natural instinct to hide their pain, meaning it can be very difficult for pet parents to know when their feline friend is experiencing dental issues. Your cat may be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever letting on that they are uncomfortable.
This is why cat owners need to be diligent about caring for their feline companion's oral health and keeping their kitty's teeth clean and gums healthy. By monitoring and regularly cleaning your cat's teeth, you will be able to detect any oral health issues early and help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatment.
How To Clean Your Cat's Teeth
A regular at-home dental care routine for your cat can help to keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout their lifetime. If possible, establish this routine while your cat is still young to help them get accustomed to the process. This way, your cat will learn that dental care isn't something to be feared.
To introduce brushing your cat's teeth into their routine, follow these steps:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your feline friend is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush - you can get one from your vet - and some special cat toothpaste. Cat toothpaste comes in a range of flavors such as beef, chicken, and fish.
- Begin using the toothbrush 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.
- As you work towards brushing your cat's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned during a single session.
Remain Calm & Progress Slowly
Success with at-home dental care depends largely on your cat's temperament. Make sure you are relaxed, flexible and that you adapt your approach to your cat's level of comfort. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well. There are also dental gels that you can get that you can apply with your finger that help to prevent the build-up of plaque.
If you find that brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult there are a few other options to consider. Specially designed dental chew toys, dental treats, and plaque-removing drinking water additives are all available. Talk to your vet about what they'd recommend.
Professional Dental Care For Cats
Besides a good at-home routine, our Parrish veterinarians recommend making annual dental care visits to your vet's office a part of their preventative healthcare routine. This lets your veterinarian provide your kitty with a thorough hygiene cleaning as well as assess their mouth for any emerging oral health conditions.
If your veterinarian determines your cat is suffering from dental issues, they may recommend you make more frequent visits to help maintain your feline friend's oral health.
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.