Should I be brushing my cat’s teeth?

Short answer? Yes, but you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t. 73% of cat owners say they never brush their cat’s teeth, and another 14% say they rarely do, according to a 2015 poll. To be fair to 87% of cat owners, it does feel a little unnatural to stick your fingers in a cat’s mouth. It’s not a pleasant chore. We understand.

But studies suggest that most domestic cats older than four end up developing dental disease, which can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. When left untreated, dental disease can cost a cat one or more teeth and even threaten their overall health.

If rough tartar has started to accumulate on your cat’s teeth along the gum line, it might time to schedule a dental evaluation with your veterinarian. They may recommend a full dental cleaning or a tooth extraction if they find advanced decay.

Note: Don’t skip the dental! Dental cleanings are very important for kitty’s health and comfort, and may be needed on a regular basis for cats who don’t tolerate brushings at home.

If you choose to begin brushing your cat’s teeth, please note that cats require special toothpaste, as fluoride is toxic to dogs and cats. Once you have all the right tools, we recommend taking an incremental approach to introducing the process. First, let them taste the special toothpaste. On another day, introduce them to having their teeth touched. On another start holding their mouth open, etc. Eventually (hopefully) they’ll get used to it over time. Praise and rewards are a must, as always. 

You can find more exhaustive articles and helpful tutorials online, including this YouTube video that takes less than 5 minutes to watch. Happy brushing!

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Posted in Feline Care.