The cat’s teeth are adapted to eating meat but they still have many things that make them similar to our own teeth such as the system of enamel, nerves, blood vessels and the ligaments. Some find it off to brush a cat’s teeth but since they are close to ours that means they require about the same amount of attention. Here is our guide on how to take care of your cat’s teeth without resorting to specialized help each time.
Dental Disease In Cats
If you won’t take care of a cat’s teeth they will decay just as easily as ours do. Plaque is the first thing that settles on the teeth and it is created by some bacteria combined with the pet’s saliva. If left unchecked for a long time then it will turn into tartar. The tartar will create a new strain of bacteria that is very bad for a cat’s teeth.
It’s not just the teeth that are affected by the lack of dental care. The nutrition, quality of life and overall health will be affected and if one of the first signs is a bad breath, what will come next is much worse.
The formation of dental abscesses on the teeth or gums will put your pet in a lot of pain and the only way to remove them is through surgery. This is one reason why prevention is a smarter option. If the cat has serious tooth decay then they may loose some of their teeth and the use of frequent dental treatment will be a pain for both you (financially) and for your poor cat.
The infection of the teeth and gums can spread into the bloodstream and from there it becomes a systemic problem that can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, heart or lungs of your cat. This means that you should treat these problems just as seriously as if you were suffering from them and prevention is clearly the better option.
Supplies Needed For Cat’s Teeth Care
When you first get a pet it is always a good idea to start with a veterinarian checkup as they will assess their overall health as well as the possible issues that might arise. Some cats will require a professional clean up before being taken home and this means that the vet will also guide you on what you should buy for the cat. Each pet may have different risk factors and thus the products required may be different.
That being said, there are some items that will be absolutely necessary so let us take a look at these: they are a toothbrush, toothpaste and the occasional dental treats which can help their teeth as well.
The toothbrush of a cat can have a wide array of shapes and sizes, some of them can be put on your finger so you can use them easily while others have the more traditional handle. They should have soft bristles and an angled head. Depending on how severe the cat’s problems are, you may be better off with the traditional handles as they give you a firmer grip.
The toothpaste for cats should be one that is made specifically for them. Human toothpaste won’t work at all as the strong flavors will mean that they won’t enjoy it. The human toothpaste also contains fluoride and other ingredients that your can may swallow and then be harmed by them. Cat toothpaste is safe to swallow and has flavors like chicken, fish or tuna. If the cat has a lot of tartar then look for one which has enzymatic agents that help break it down as that one will be more efficient.
For dental treats these can work as rewards as well as some additional ways of protecting your cat’s teeth. They shouldn’t be a substitute for brushing but they do help. Look for the ones that suit your pet’s problems best and maybe ask the vet for advice if you don’t know what to get.
How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
There are several steps you should follow for a proper cleaning:
- Get the cat used to having the fingers near their mouth and touching it. This has to happen gradually as it isn’t something cats are naturally used to.
Get them used to the taste of the toothpaste by putting some on your fingers and letting them lick it. If you brush their teeth at about the same time of day then they will get used to it faster.
Don’t rush things. When you are ready to begin, put the cat on the counter or on your lap. Hug them gently to reduce how much they move and so that you can access the mouth easier. Lift the upper lips of the cat and slide the brush in a circular motion across the gum line.
The front teeth should go first as they are the easiest to reach then try to get to the back teeth. The outer surfaces should be brushed only as the back side doesn’t build too much tarter. If you manage to do this in one go then this is wonderful.
As the cat gets used to the procedure you can try to reach the back molars as well since that is an area that really should be cleaned and the entire process should be really quick once both of you get used to it.
- Don’t forget to reward the cat after putting them through this. Petting, praise and playtime should follow, whichever your cat seems to enjoy the most and don’t forget about treats! Even if you don’t get too far with the brushing you should still reward the cat as they will gradually consider this to be a more pleasant activity and always pay attention not to hurt the cat.
If you are pulling their lips too hard or squeezing them to stay in place it is obvious that you are the one making this activity difficult for them to enjoy. This should be quick and painless for both parts involved and it is your responsibility to make it so.