Dental health issues can be just as painful for your cat as they are for us. Here, our Brighton vets share some advice on how to clean your cat's teeth and keep their mouth healthy.
Your Cat's Oral Hygiene
Cats are quite adept at hiding their pain. They may actually be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever letting on that they are uncomfortable. Because of this, owners need to keep their cat's teeth clean and bring them to the vet for regular teeth cleanings and exams. 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.
Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth at Home
Maintaining a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat could help to keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout their lifetime. To make cleaning your cat's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible, begin establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having their teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
Your goal is to make brushing your cat's teeth a stress-free and easy part of your kitty's daily routine. Begin by waiting until your cat is calm and relaxed, then 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 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.
Give Your Cat Time to Get Used to the Process
How successful you are at cleaning your cat's teeth will largely depend on your kitty's temperament. Make sure you are relaxed and flexible so that you can adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Some 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 gell with their fingers that does 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 their teeth cleaned during a single session.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth-cleaning process they 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.
Feline Dental Cleanings & Exams
To make sure that your cat's mouth remains pain-free and healthy, our veterinarians recommend making annual dental care visits to your vet's office a part of their preventative healthcare routine. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's oral health on top of their overall physical health and let you know if any professional dental cleaning or surgery is required to restore your cat's good 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.