Oral health is an incredibly important part of caring for your cat. Many people do not realize how closely tied oral health is to overall health, and why it is so important to keep mouths clean and infection-free. Cats can show signs of having periodontal disease by the time they are just three years old, and often show early symptoms by having bad breath. Many owners think that cat’s simply have bad breath – and sure, it is not at fresh smelling as a human’s breath after brushing with Colgate – but cat’s breath should not be bad enough to make you gag. It is absolutely essential that you maintain good oral hygiene for your cat, because untreated dental issues can cause tooth loss and could even cause infections throughout their body. Below, we have gathered all of the information you will need in order to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy.
How to clean your cat’s teeth
It might not be the easiest thing to do, but brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is a very good way to help prevent plaque buildup. Most cats do not need to have their teeth brushed every day, but the more often you can do it, the healthier your cat’s teeth will be. If your cat appears to be afraid or unsure of the toothbrush, you can train them to be comfortable with it. First, show the toothbrush to your cat. Let them sniff at it, and give them a treat. When they are sniffing at the toothbrush confidently, open your cat’s mouth and hold the toothbrush in the other hand. Give them a treat. When they appear to be comfortable with that, open their mouth and gently brush the toothbrush across their teeth, giving them a treat right afterwards. Maintain this slow introduction until they become more comfortable with the toothbrush. This could take several days.
When brushing your cat’s teeth, make sure you are only using toothpaste that is designed for cats, not toothpaste designed for humans. Human toothpaste contains a number of ingredients that can be quite toxic for cats. The specially-formulated cat toothpaste also comes in a variety of food flavors, which will help them stay still during the cleaning process. It is also very important that you use a feline toothbrush, not a human toothbrush. Some feline toothbrushes can even fit over your fingertip, so that it is easier for you to make sure you are cleaning all of your cat’s teeth.
Some cats may struggle with teeth cleaning, which can be quite frustrating to an owner who is attempting to use a toothbrush. Luckily, there are a couple of other options that may help in this situation. For example, tooth wipes are made to be rubbed against your cat’s teeth in order to remove plaque. This is similar to toothbrushes, but do not clean the hidden or tighter spaces between the teeth that toothpaste will usually clean.
Cats can also clean their teeth using dental treats, which is a helpful way to help improve their oral health. Dental treats are designed to remove plaque buildup. Cats tend to prefer dental treats over toothbrushes and wipes, because they feel and taste like treats. They also do a great job of keeping your cat’s mouth clean and even smelling fresh. Like treats, many cat chews also have some teeth-cleaning properties. Chewing can benefit your cat’s mouth greatly, as the act of gnawing help scrape plaque off of your cat’s teeth.
Of course, the best way to clean a cat’s teeth is to take them to a professional. Your veterinarian will be best suited to address any known oral health issues, and it is the best way to maintain your cat’s oral hygiene.
Looking for an easy breakdown of what to do and when? Purina has you covered:
- Ask your veterinary nurse to show you how to brush your cat’s teeth correctly.
- Buy toothpaste that’s specially formulated for cats, with flavors like malt or chicken – yum! Just as you wouldn’t want to use cat toothpaste, your cat should never use human toothpaste.
- Start by putting this cat toothpaste on your finger and offering it to your cat to lick. Do this daily for a few days while they get used to the flavor and texture. Whatever you do, don’t put your fingers in your cat’s mouth – that can only end in trouble.
- Next, get a toothbrush that’s designed for cats and, if you have more than one cat, buy one per pet to avoid transmitting any bacteria. You can use a baby’s toothbrush as these are suitably soft but avoid ‘finger brushes’ as they can be accidentally bitten – with your finger inside!
- Choose a time that you can stick to each day to help make tooth brushing part of your pet’s normal routine. It’s important that you pick a time when you’re both relaxed so that both you and your cat are calm and comfortable.
- Have your cats back to you when you start brushing as they may try and back away from you; this is also a less confrontational approach.
- If your cat tries to push you away with their paws, you may need someone to help you hold them, but it’s better to try to slowly acclimatize your cat by repeatedly touching their mouth and head, reassuring them with quiet, soothing words and offering rewards for several days. There’s no great rush to start brushing – what’s more important is that they learn to trust the toothpaste, toothbrush and you.
- Slowly and gently pull back your cat’s lips and simply touch their teeth with the cat toothbrush at first, then stop and reward your cat. Again repeat this daily for several days. Only when they’re completely comfortable with this should you gently start tooth brushing by applying the bristles to the teeth at a 45-degree angle, reaching both the tooth surface and just beneath the gum margin, but not directly on the gums.
- Start by doing this very briefly (10 seconds or so) before rewarding them for their patience.
Best toothbrushes to use
Now that you know how to brush your cat’s teeth, the question is, which toothbrush is best? With so many options out there, we decided to provide you with a list of the best toothbrushes for your cat. These are the best toothbrushes for your cat.
H&H professional cat toothbrush
This toothbrush is a great tool to use on cats of size or age. It is recommended that you brush your cat’s teeth after every meal, to prevent buildup of plaque.
Pet Republique Cat Toothbrush
This toothbrush features many of the same great designs as the Duke’s brush, plus it has a 60 day guarantee for all of its products. This will help you try out the toothbrush on your cat to see if it works for them before you have to commit to using it. These bristles are a little bit tougher, which means that they will be able to more easily remove debris that is stuck between your cat’s teeth.
RosyLife Pet Cat Soft Toothbrush
This product comes with four long-handled, dual-head toothbrushes and finger brushes that are made from silicone. These brushes have angled heads that will help remove tartar and plaque.
Mascota Cat Toothbrush
These kitten and cat sets include two long-handled, dual brush head toothbrushes and six cat finger toothbrushes. Their ideal for getting those hard to reach gums.
Best toothpastes for cats
As we mentioned, do not use human toothpaste when brushing your cat’s teeth. In order to help you avoid choosing the wrong one, we have put together a list of the best toothpastes for your cat.
Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste
This toothpaste is highly regarded among owners whose cats are very picky about flavors or tastes, as it comes in five different flavors: poultry, malt, beef, seafood and vanilla-mint. It also contains C.E.T., which is formulated for catsas a natural antibacterial to help remove plaque and prevent tartar from forming.
Organic Dental Solutions Kit
This kit is a favorite among those who prefer an all-in-one kit. This includes both the toothpaste and the toothbrush, which is USDA certified organic and is free from chemicals, dyes, preservatives and artificial additives.
Petsmile Professional Cat Toothpaste
This toothpaste is great for owners who are uncomfortable with the brushing process. It comes with a finger applicator and owners simply have to use it to rub the paste on their cat’s teeth. It contains Calprox, which is proven to prevent plaque and fight bacteria. It is also free of fluoride, parabens and sulfates, which can be harmful to your cat.
Kissable All-Natural Toothpaste for Cats
This all-natural toothpaste is great at preventing tartar build up and is safe for cats to swallow. It comes in two flavors: vanilla and tea tree oil, and cucumber mint. These are very specific flavors, and you may want to consider something blander if your cat tends to be more sensitive to flavors and tastes.
Tropiclean Fresh Breath Teeth Gel
This is the easiest way to clean your cat’s teeth, as all you have to do is apply two drops of gel to each side of your cat’s mouth every day, and the toothpaste does the rest. It is made with green tea and natural ingredients.
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care
This toothpaste is great because it packs a powerful punch in the flavor department. This is a natural, peanut-flavored toothpaste that will encourage your cat to tolerate teeth brushing. It is also made with Denta-C, which is a blend of ingredients that has been created to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
Arm & Hammer Enzymatic Toothpaste
This is a great option for both kittens and cats, as it contains baking soda to deordorize while fighting tartar. It can also brighten teeth and soothe inflamed gums.
Vet’s Best Gel Toothpaste
This toothpaste is made by veterinarians, and includes natural ingredients such as neem oil, grapefruit seed and aloe. It also contains antibacterial and antifungal properties, which will help prevent against oral infections.
As hard as we try, brushing our cat’s teeth seems to be the first thing that falls through the cracks when life gets busy. We know we need to do it, and we want to do it, and we mean to do it, but we just do not do it. Now is the time to stop that cycle and start brushing your cat’s teeth regularly.
If you are having trouble remembering to brush your cat’s teeth regularly, set a schedule, much like your own. You would not leave the house in the morning, or go to bed at night, without brushing your teeth, would you? If you are stopping in the bathroom for a quick brush, take the extra couple of minutes and add your cat’s teeth to the mix as well. It does not take long and it will make a significant difference in their overall health!
Dental disease is something that can creep up on a cat if their owners are not properly taking care of them. From bad breath to gum disease, any number of infections in the mouth could lead to more serious infections elsewhere in your cat’s body. Toxins from dental disease can be absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream and can cause serious damage to the heart, kidneys and liver, which filter the blood. If this bacteria enters your cat’s bloodstream, it could become fatal. Regular brushing will help prevent inflamed gums, and tartar and plaque buildup.
When left untreated, cats may suffer significantly from dental disease. In many cases, cats whose owners have not properly cared for their teeth will have several teeth removed, which will alter the way they will be able to eat for the rest of their lives. Your cat is very good at hiding pain, and if you are not paying enough attention, you could never know that they are suffering from dental pain.
You have the ability to keep your cat healthy and pain-free, just by spending a few minutes brushing their teeth each day. While it may take a little while to train your cat to be comfortable with the process, it is well worth the effort. Some cats may even like the feeling of the toothbrush on their teeth. If you find that you are really struggling, there are always the chew toy-like toothbrushes that allow your cat to play with the toothbrush while simultaneously cleaning their teeth. There are lots of options to choose from!