Dental hygiene for cats is just as important as it is for humans. Here, our Perry vets discuss what pet owners should know about dental health for cats.
Cat Dental Care
Cats can be quite adept at hiding their pain. They may be suffering from painful oral health issues without ever letting on that they feel uncomfortable. Because of this, owners need to be conscious of their companion's oral health and well-being and ensure they keep their cat's teeth clean.
By keeping an eye on your cat's teeth and oral health, you may be able to detect health issues early and get your cat treated before emerging issues become more serious (and expensive).
Annual Dental Checkups for Your Kitty
To help ensure that your feline friend's mouth remains pain-free and as healthy as possible, our Westmoreland & Slappey Animal Hospital veterinarians advise that you make annual dental visits to your pet's office part of their routine professional dental care. Your veterinarian will be able to evaluate your pet's oral health on top of their general physical health and will be able to let you know if any professional cleanings or surgeries will be required to restore your cat's good health.
Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth
Daily, at-home oral hygiene is the best way to make sure that your cat's teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible. To make your cat's teeth-cleaning process as easy as possible while they are at home, make sure you get your kitty into the habit of having their mouth touched and teeth brushed while they are still quite young. This way, they will be accustomed to the sensation and more tolerant of brushing.
Your goal should be to make brushing your cat's teeth as stress-less as possible by incorporating it into your cat's daily routines. Start by waiting until your cat is relaxed and calm and then take the following 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 you 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 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 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.
The length of time and thoroughness of your cat's brushing will depend on their temperament for the most part. Make sure you remain flexible and adapt your approach to accommodate your cat's tolerance. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their feline friend's teeth with gauze, while others find that a finger brush works well. Others may even apply a dental gel with their fingers that can do some of 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 cat is alarmed or stressed out by the process of having their teeth cleaned, it may react by scratching or biting. So, if brushing your cat's teeth becomes too difficult for you and your feline companion, consider adding plaque remover to their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing them with dental treats.
As well as your efforts to keep your kitty's teeth clean and healthy, they’ll also need a regular professional dental cleaning performed by a qualified vet to keep their teeth in optimal condition.
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.