Brushing A Cat’s Teeth: Why and How it Should be Done
Like humans, cats’ teeth need to be taken care of on a daily basis to reduce tartar and plaque buildup. In fact, the majority of cats have some form of dental disease by the time they reach the age of three. Dental disease can cause pain, tooth loss, infection, and can even shorten your cat’s lifespan if bacteria from an oral infection enters the bloodstream.
The absolute best way to protect your pet’s oral health is by brushing their teeth daily or at least three times per week. Brushing a cat’s teeth probably sounds like an impossible task, but with the right approach (along with a healthy dose of patience and persistence) most cats can learn to accept and even enjoy toothbrushing.
Your Blue Valley Animal Hospital team wants to set you up for success when it comes to caring for your cat’s teeth.
Gather Your Supplies
The supplies for brushing a cat’s teeth are pretty similar to what people use – a toothbrush and toothpaste. Opt for a very small, cat-specific toothbrush (a finger brush or piece of gauze wrapped around your finger will also do the job). Never use human toothpaste on a pet, as some of the ingredients are toxic to animals. Cat-specific toothpaste is widely available and comes in flavors cats love.
Brushing A Cat’s Teeth 101
Most cats dislike having their mouths handled, so ideally, getting a cat used to having their teeth brushed would begin in kittenhood. However a cat of any age has the potential to become accustomed to this new routine. Starting out slowly and having a plan in place is key.
- Start by gently lifting your cat’s lips for short periods of time. Do this only when your cat is calm and relaxed (during snuggle time is perfect), and speak in a soft, positive voice. Stop before your cat becomes annoyed (even if this is only for a few seconds) and offer a tasty treat or toy immediately after to create a positive association.
- Once kitty has acclimated to having their mouth handled, introduce the toothbrush. Start by simply offering it to your cat to sniff, paw at, and maybe take a lick of the toothpaste. Once again offer a treat after.
- As soon as you think your cat is ready, lift them onto your lap and use the toothbrush (or gauze, or finger brush) to gently brush the two large canine teeth in the front of the mouth. Gradually (very gradually) increase the number of teeth you brush over time.
- Be patient (did we mention this one already?). Go at your cat’s pace, and if they are unwilling to go along with one of the steps listed, go back and repeat the previous step until they feel comfortable again.
Brushing your cat’s teeth will pay off not only financially (dental cleanings and oral surgeries are expensive), but will also reap huge dividends in terms of your pet’s overall health and well being. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us!