Similar to people, cats can be plagued by painful dental health issues triggered by poor oral hygiene or injury. But what exactly is good oral hygiene for cats and what sort of dental care do cats really require? Our vets in Zeeland discuss how to clean your cat's mouth and maintain their healthy teeth.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Cats are adept at hiding their pain. Even if they are suffering from a severely painful oral health issue, they may never reveal that they are uncomfortable. This is why owners need to keep a close eye on their feline friend's oral health and keep their furry companion's teeth clean. By monitoring and cleaning your cat's teeth regularly, you'll be able to notice oral health issues early and potentially keep your cat from experiencing pain and the need for more expensive treatment in the future.
Caring For Your Cat's Teeth At Home
Sticking to a daily dental hygiene routine for your cat can help keep your kitty companion's teeth and gums healthy during their lifetime. To make cleaning your cat's teeth at home less stressful and easier, start by developing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are young. This way, you'll get your cat used to having its teeth brushed and mouth touched right from kittenhood.
Strive to integrate brushing your cat's teeth into their daily routine. Wait until your cat is calm and relaxed to begin, then take these steps:
- Lift your cat's lips gently, then massage their teeth and gums using your finger. Do this for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from the process at first. You may only reach a couple of your kitty's teeth the first few times you attempt brushing - that's okay. This is about building your cat's trust and keeping them from becoming agitated.
- Stay calm and make sure to offer lots of praise and a yummy treat to your cat after your teeth-and-gum massage. This may help to build your cat's tolerance to the experience, and you may be able to gradually increase the length of time you spend on this task as you do it more often.
- Once your kitty has adapted to you massaging their gums on a daily basis, we recommend gradually introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush, which you can acquire from your pet or a pet supply store, and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of flavors that cats tend to enjoy, such as chicken or beef.
- Start using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may start by licking just a small dollop of toothpaste from your finger.
Have Patience While Your Cat Gets Used Teeth Cleaning
The level of success you achieve when it comes to cleaning your cat's teeth will largely depend on your pet's temperament. Make sure you are calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Many cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gel with their fingers that they allow to 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 they 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
To help ensure that your cat's mouth stays pain-free and healthy, our Zeeland vets recommend annual professional dental care as a part of your kitty's preventative healthcare routine. Taking your cat for a dental appointment is like a visit to the cat dentist. Your vet will evaluate your cat's oral health, take X-rays if required, and do a thorough cleaning. If your cat is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your dentist will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
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.