Much like people, cats can suffer from painful dental health issues due to injury or poor oral hygiene. But what exactly is good oral hygiene for cats and what sort of dental care do cats need? Our Stuart vets explain how to clean your cat's mouth and keep their teeth healthy.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Cats are stoic creatures who can hide their pain well. They may be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever expressing their discomfort. As a result, owners must be aware of their feline companion's oral health and keep their furry companion's teeth clean. By monitoring and cleaning your cat's teeth on a regular basis, you will be able to detect any oral health issues early on and help your cat avoid pain and costly treatment.
Caring For Your Cat's Teeth At Home
Maintaining a daily dental hygiene routine for your cat could help keep their teeth and gums healthy for the rest of their lives. Begin establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten to make cleaning their teeth at home as simple and stress-free as possible. Your cat will become accustomed to having its teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age this way.
Strive to make brushing your cat's teeth a stress-free and easy part of your kitty's daily routine. Start 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 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 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 cleaning your cat's teeth will be heavily influenced by your pet's temperament. Make sure you're calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adjust your approach based on your cat's tolerance level. Many cat owners find that some gauze works well for cleaning their pet's teeth, while others find that a finger brush works well, and still others apply a dental gel with their fingers and let it 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 it 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
Our veterinarians recommend annual professional dental care as part of your cat's preventative healthcare routine to help keep his or her mouth pain-free and healthy. Taking your cat to the cat dentist is similar to going to the human dentist. Your veterinarian will examine your cat's oral health, take x-rays if necessary, and perform a thorough cleaning. If your cat has a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your dentist will make recommendations for care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
To find out more about dental care for cats available here at our Stuart animal hospital 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.