Similar to people, cats can suffer from dental health issues that may result in pain due to poor oral hygiene or injury. But, what exactly is good oral hygiene for cats and what sort of dental care do cats really require? Our vets in Tucson explain how to clean your cat's mouth and what to do to keep their teeth healthy.
Your Cat's Dental Health
While it's true that cats are stoic creatures that hide their pain exceptionally well, they may be suffering from painful oral health issues without ever letting their owners in on their discomfort. This is why cat parents need to be conscious of their feline friend's oral health and keep their four-legged companion's teeth clean. By regularly cleaning and monitoring your cat's teeth for any problems, you'll be able to spot any oral health issues early and help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatment later.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth At Home
Maintaining a regular dental hygiene routine for your cat may help ensure your kitty's teeth and gums remain healthy during their lifetime. To make cleaning your cat's teeth as smooth and easy as possible, start implementing a daily oral hygiene routine for your young kitten. This way, your adult cat will be used to having its mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
Strive to make brushing your cat's teeth an easy, stress-free part of your kitty's day. Begin by waiting until your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- Lift your cat's lips gently before using your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Try not to expect too much from your cat at first, since you may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times you attempt the process. But, that's okay - this is about building trust in your cat to prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Stay calm and be sure to give your cat lots of praise and a yummy treat after their teeth-and-gum massage. The goal is to build your cat's tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task every 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 with 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 they allow to do 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 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.
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.
The combination of veterinary dental care and an at-home oral health routine will help you stay on top of your cat's dental care needs, and prevent tartar from accumulating and causing health issues.
To find out more about dental care for cats available here at our animal hospital's two locations in Tucson, check out our dentistry page.
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.