Five Dental Cleaning Tips for Your Cat

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A cat’s teeth are essential for its survival. Without healthy teeth, a feline cannot eat the nutrients it needs. Up to 90% of felines develop dental problems as they age. However, most of these are preventable if the owner takes the necessary steps to keep their kitty’s teeth healthy.

Like humans, cats are susceptible to gum disease, plaque build-up, abscesses, and tooth breakages. These dental conditions can be painful, could lead to foul breath and an inability to chew food. Here are five tips for keeping your cat’s teeth clean:

The right equipment

You cannot use a human toothbrush and toothpaste on a feline as their dental composition differs from yours. Feline dental products, such as cat dental scrub, are designed with this species’ dental requirements in mind. A feline toothbrush is smaller, as a cat’s teeth are much tinier than human teeth. You could also opt for a toothbrush without a handle that slips over your finger. Many cat owners find this a more convenient way to brush their kitty’s teeth.

Many pet stores and veterinary clinics sell complete cat dental care kits. After purchasing one of these, you can top it up with individual products as you require them.

Know what you are looking for

Regular dental inspections by owners can ensure early intervention in feline dental issues. Check your cat’s teeth once or twice a week at a minimum to look for signs that could indicate dental problems. Here are some symptoms to look for:

Bad breath is an indicator of a digestive complaint or a dental issue. Inflamed, swollen gums indicate a potential dental infection. The gums will bleed or become a darker shade of red than usual. Without treatment, these symptoms could lead to tooth loss, difficulty chewing food, or refusing to eat. However, gums that show these symptoms could indicate kidney disease or an immunodeficiency virus.

A cat might also paw at its mouth if there is dental discomfort, such as the presence of ulcers. Above average levels of drooling are also indicators of a tooth problem.

If you spot any of these symptoms, visit your veterinarian for advice. By this stage, the problem could be advanced beyond any interventions you can offer at home. The vet might order x-rays or blood tests to get to the root of the problem.

A professional dental cleaning procedure is typically required, which a vet does under anesthesia. During a professional dental cleaning, the vet cleans under the cat’s gum line, removes plaque and tartar, and polishes the teeth.

Get into a routine

Most cats do not much enjoy having their teeth brushed. Training them to accept it as part of a routine from an early age will make the process easier. Start with short teeth cleaning sessions where you gently massage the cat’s gums with your forefinger.

Once a cat is used to you rubbing over its teeth, introduce a feline toothbrush into the equation. Keep the process short and positive, offering your cat praise for good behavior. Before using a toothbrush, check the cat’s gums. If they are inflamed, brushing could cause discomfort and cause bleeding gums.

Do not give up if your cat resists having its teeth cleaned. Keep trying, varying your approach until you find a way to get this vital task done without your cat trying to bite or claw at you. Cats are by nature defensive and will therefore not welcome someone invading their space, especially around the mouth.

Incentivize brushing

Cats function well in a rewards-based environment. Therefore, make giving your cat a special treat part of its dental hygiene routine. This could include a yummy treat or some additional play. When the cat knows its behavior pleased you, it is likely to try and replicate it again.

Some edible treats are designed to aid with dental hygiene and do some extra tooth cleaning after brushing. Ask your vet to recommend a brand that will satisfy your kitty’s refined palate and simultaneously clean their teeth.

Dietary dental care assistance

Your preferred brand of cat food can also facilitate tooth cleaning and oral hygiene. Some cat food brands have specifically formulated foods that provide dental benefits.

In the past, there was a perception that eating dry cat food would clean a feline’s teeth. The chewing action and having bits of cat food rubbing against the teeth was believed to clean them. This has not proven to be accurate as the bits are too small and often consumed whole. Some brands make bigger pellets to ensure that cats must chew them. However, felines rarely chew their food.

If you have a cat experiencing dental issues, speak to your vet about what food you should be giving your kitty to help with oral hygiene. These foods tend to cost a bit extra, but they are effective and reduce your long-term vet bills.