Similar to people, cats can suffer from painful dental health issues due to poor oral hygiene or injury. Many owners wonder what is good oral hygiene for cats and what sort of dental care they need. Our Seattle vets explain how to clean your cat's mouth and keep their teeth healthy.
Your Cat's Dental Health
While cats are stoic creatures and hide pain exceptionally well until it has advanced, they may suffer from painful oral health issues without giving off obvious clues that they are uncomfortable. This is why owners must be conscious of their feline friend's oral health and work hard at keeping their cat's teeth clean. By keeping a close eye on and regularly cleaning your cat's teeth, you'll be more likely to detect oral health issues early and help your cat avoid expensive treatment and pain.
Caring for Your Cat's Teeth at Home
To help keep your cat's teeth and gums healthy during their lifetime, maintaining a daily dental hygiene routine is a must. Establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten can help make cleaning your feline's teeth at home much easier and less stressful. This way, your cat will adapt to having its mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
You can start now to make brushing your cat's teeth a stress-free, easy part of your kitty's everyday routine. You may receive differing advice on how to clean a cat's teeth, but we find cat owners have the least trouble using the following method. Begin by waiting until your cat is relaxed and calm, and follow these steps:
- Lift your cat's lips gently, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- At first, don't expect too much from your cat. The first few times you attempt this process, you may only be able to reach a couple of teeth. That's okay. Start the process with the mindset of building trust with your cat to help keep 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 acquire from your vet and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of excellent flavors for cats like beef or chicken.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin by licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient While Your Cat Gets Used Teeth Cleaning
The level of success you achieve when it comes to cleaning your cat's teeth will largely depend on your pet's temperament. Make sure you are calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Many cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gel with their fingers that allows doing the work for them.
When you finally begin 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 its teeth cleaned during a single session.
If your kitty is stressed or alarmed by the teeth-cleaning process it may react by scratching or biting. So if brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult for you and your kitty consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
Annual Dental Exams For Cats
To help ensure that your cat's mouth stays pain-free and healthy, our vets recommend annual professional dental care as a part of your kitty's preventative healthcare routine. Taking your cat for a dental appointment is like a visit to the cat dentist. Your vet will evaluate your cat's oral health, take X-rays if required, and do a thorough cleaning. If your cat is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your dentist will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
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.