Regular brushing prevents plaque buildup and helps maintain healthy teeth and oral hygiene, so while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, don’t forget to do your cat’s. Our feline friends can’t do it alone! In fact, good dental hygiene is even more important for cats than it is for humans, as bacteria can enter your cat’s bloodstream and cause damage to the kidneys and other vital organs.
- Bad breath – a mild fishy odor (kitty breath) is normal
- Reddened gums
- Yellowish brown tartar
- Change in eating habits
If you notice any of the above symptoms seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Eight out of ten cats over the age of three experience tooth or gum problems but there are a few simple ways of preventing them.
- Annual check-up at the vet’s that includes an oral examination.
- Daily dental care
- Regular attention for warning signs
Caring for your cat’s teeth
The easiest way to care for your cat’s teeth is by brushing… ‘easiest’ being a relative term. That said, the earlier you start, the better. Getting your cat used to a daily brushing routine from a young age will make things a lot easier for both of you. That said, there are a few things you can do that will make the process easier:
- Allowing your cat to sit on your knee while you brush their teeth will make them feel more comfortable
- Dipping your finger in some tuna water or onion-free stock and rubbing your cat’s teeth will get them used to the sensation, and creative a positive association
- Brushing two or three front teeth and gradually increasing the number of teeth you brush will help acclimate your cat
- Never use human toothpaste as the fluoride is not feline-friendly. Use a pet product instead
Feed your cat a mix of wet and dry cat food and occasionally add a treat of human-grade meat, which will encourage them to chew and clean their gums. Give your cat raw bones to chew as these will help reduce the amount of tartar on their teeth.
Bones should always be raw, as cooked bones are dangerous – likely to splinter and cause internal problems. Bones should be introduced gradually and should be big enough so your cat can’t fit the whole thing in its mouth at once. Always supervise your cat when they’re eating bones in case they try something silly. However, bones aren’t a substitute for brushing! You don’t get off the hook that easy, human.