Just like humans, cats can experience issues with their oral health. Because of this, it is key that you as a pet-owner, are proactive about keeping your cat's teeth clean and their mouth healthy. Here, our Westport vets will talk you through a few tips on developing and maintaining good oral health in your feline friend.
Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean
Cats are pretty stoic. They will hide their pain as much as possible out of instinct. However, that doesn't mean our furry companions don't experience discomfort from oral health issues they experience.
If you have a cat, it is very important for you to be diligent in monitoring your companion's health. Step one of this when it comes to oral health is keeping their teeth clean. Being proactive about your cat's oral health can help avoid painful oral health problems for them in the future, or to detect and treat minor issues before they become problems for your cat's overall wellbeing. This proactive apporach will allow you and your cat to avoid expensive emergency vet bills down the road, preventing those issues before it get's to that point at all.
Annual Dental Checkups for Optimal Feline Oral Health
The next time you're booking a checkup for your cat with you vet, be sure to ask them about including an oral exam. This will give your veterinarian the chance to evaluate your cat's oral health as well as their general physical health. They can let you know afterwards whether your feline friend requires professional dental cleaning or surgery.
A Daily Dental Care Routine For Your Kitty
More than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop some form of tooth or gum disease by the age of 3. Making sure that5 you establish daily dental care routines with them can help you cat avoid becoming part of the majority.
Starting while your cat is young is the best way to do this. However, before you begin brushing your cat's teeth, it would be a good idea to check in with your vet first. Even young kittens may have oral health issues which should be corrected before you start brushing their teeth.
How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
If your goal is to ease your cat into a new toothbrushing routine,, the most important thing is to keep them relaxed and clam throughout the whole process. Here are the steps to brushing your cat's teeth:
- Lift their lips gently and use your finger (making sure it is clean!) to massage their teeth and gums for a few seconds.
- Manage your expectations. It is normal to only be able to reach one or two teeth during your first few tries. Make sure you stop before your cat gets too annoyed.
- Make sure you give them lots of praise, attention, and a tasty treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. This will help build your cat's tolerance for the experience. Hopefully the length of time they will tolerate it will gradually increase.
- Once your feline companion has become used to having their teeth and gums touched regularly, you can gradually begin to introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste which are designed for cats. Never use your human toothpaste, the ingredients in it are toxic to cats. Look for flavors your cat will like, like beef for chicken.
- Start with the same low expectation and gradual process when brushing as with your massaging. Make sure you find a brush that has very soft bristles for your cat's sensitive gums as well.
Some cat owners are successful in cleaning their cat's teeth using a finger brush, others use a soft gauze. Another approach is to apply dental gel to your cat's teeth with a soft implement and let it do the work itself.
When brushing your cat's teeth, move along the gum line, working quickly and calmly. And make sure you stop before you cat become irritated. It may take weeks of trying before your kitty tolerates having all their teeth cleaning in one sitting, but patience is key.
Oral Health Alternatives to Brushing
If brushing causes your cat too much stress or anxiety, they may scratch or bite you. If this is the case for your cat, spare your fingers and think about adding alternatives like plaque remover into their drinking water or giving them specially designed dental chew toys or treats to help them clean their teeth while they play. While this isn't a one to one substitute to for daily brushing, it will help keep your cat's teeth clean if that isn't an option.
Whatever at-home method you end of using, make sure you are also diligent in bringing you cat in for annual professional cleanings by your veterinarian. This is the most important step you can take in keeping your pet's teeth in the best condition possible.
Whichever at-home method you choose to keep your cat’s teeth clean, remember that your kitty will also need annual professional dental cleaning by a qualified veterinarian to help keep their teeth in tip-top 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.