Did you know that kittens have 26 baby teeth, and by the time a cat reaches adulthood, they have 30 permanent teeth? Taking care of those pearly whites is an important part of ensuring your cat’s long-term health and comfort.
The key to managing dental health in your cat is prevention! If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know that dental problems are painful and can be expensive. Daily brushing can help you prevent your cat from a similar experience.
In addition to regularly visiting your veterinarian, it’s important to take care of your cat’s teeth at home, too! Daily tooth brushing is not every cat’s idea of a good time, but there are ways to help even the most reluctant kitty cooperate with a daily tooth brushing routine.
If you’re new to feline tooth brushing, make sure you take a trip to your local vet or pet store first to get all the supplies that you need. You’ll need a pet-specific toothbrush and paste. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to use human toothpaste on your cat! If you are unsure what products are safe to use on your pet, ask your veterinarian for their recommendations.
Don’t start by jabbing a toothbrush into your cat’s mouth immediately. You’ll need to build up trust to ensure your cat has a positive experience. Start by placing a small blob of toothpaste on your finger and offering it to your pet just like you would a treat. Your cat might be intrigued (if you’re lucky they’ll even enjoy it)!
Decide how you will hold your cat in position ahead of time. No guesswork in the heat of the moment – this will only cause your pet unnecessary stress and anxiety. Try out this position a few times when your cat is relaxed. Many cat parents find that keeping their cat’s back towards them with a gentle grip on their head and jaw is the way to go! Try this out a few times before you incorporate it into your brushing routine.
You’re ready to go. Find a quiet and calm space to brush your cat’s teeth. Using a cat-safe toothbrush and toothpaste, gently brush your pet’s teeth in small circular motions for about 30-40 seconds on each side.
All that’s left is to repeat! Aim to brush your cat’s teeth once per day for optimal oral health.
In addition to daily brushing and regular check-ups, you can make sure that your cat’s dental health is tip-top by supplementing their oral hygiene routine with a few additions.
Great options include dental chew toys (these are great for removing plaque), feline mouthwash (again, never use human mouthwash on your cat), and veterinary prescribed dental diets that will support your cat’s dental health long-term. Last but not least, it is very important to supplement your home dental care with regular dental exams and cleanings with your veterinarian.
When choosing a product to use, you can also look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal. This Seal appears on products that have met the requirements set by the council regarding their effectiveness in reducing plaque or tartar. You can also view a list of approved products on their website.
This article was reviewed by a Cat Healthy feline specialist veterinarian and sponsored by Hill’s Canada.