Dental care is a key part of your feline friend's overall health, but most cats don't receive the oral hygiene care they need. Today, our Smokey Point vets explain how to clean your cat's teeth and keep their mouth healthy and pain-free.
Cat Dental Health
Unfortunately, cat's have an instinct to hide their pain. This means that it can be very challenging for pet parents to identify when their car is experiencing dental issues. Your cat may be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever letting on that they are uncomfortable.
This is why cat owners need to be diligent about caring for their feline companion's teeth and gums to preserve their oral health. By monitoring and regularly cleaning your cat's teeth, you will be able to detect any issues early on and help your cat avoid pain and more expensive treatment down the line.
How To Clean Your Cat's Teeth
Maintaining a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat can 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, it's best to establish a daily routine while your cat is still a kitten if you can. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having their mouth touched and their teeth brushed from a young age.
To introduce brushing your cat's teeth into their routine, follow these steps:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Go slow! 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 stressed out or irritated.
- Remain calm and be sure to 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 get one 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.
- As you work towards brushing your cat's teeth move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. Aim to reach one more tooth during each session. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned in a single sitting.
Remain Calm & Progress Slowly
Oftentimes your success in brushing your cat's teeth depends on your cat's temperament and your patience. Make sure you are relaxed, flexible and that you adapt your approach to your cat's level of comfort. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well. There are also dental gels that you can get that you can apply with your finger that help to prevent the build-up of plaque.
Be careful, if your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth cleaning process they may react by scratching or biting. If that's the case for your cat you can consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
Yearly Dental Checkups For Cats
To make sure that your cat's mouth remains pain-free and healthy, it's in your cat's best interest to make annual dental care visits to your vet's office a part of their preventative healthcare routine.
During a routine dental exam, your vet will perform a thorough examination, cleaning, and polishing of your cat's teeth. They may also apply a dental sealant and take X-rays to determine if there are any dental issues not visible to the naked eye.
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.