Most cat owners we know treat their kitties like children. We feed them healthy food, buy them toys and play with them, clean out their litter boxes daily, take them for regular vet checkups and so on and so on.
But one thing that parents do with children that they don’t necessarily think to do with their cats is help them adopt a healthy dental routine.
Dental health is essential to overall health. Like humans, cats deserve a healthy, daily dental routine to keep their teeth and gums looking and feeling great for life.
Interested in beginning a dental routine for your cat? Not sure where to start? No matter how old your cat may be, it’s never too late to start!
From curing bad breath to preventing tooth loss, here’s what you need to know about creating a dental routine for your cat.
It’s Common for Cats to Have Dental Issues
Just imagine if you went 10, 15 or 20 years without brushing your teeth. You would have tartar buildup, painful swelling and inflammation along the gum line, and you’d likely develop periodontal disease and suffer tooth loss over time.Your cat’s teeth are no different.
A cat’s mouth is prone to dental disease. Studies show that between 50-90% of cats four years or older have some gingivitis level.
Gingivitis is the painful swelling and inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque on teeth and under gums. It’s the type of dental problem that, when left untreated, can turn into an even more severe issue.
Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis — a serious gum disease that affects both humans and pets. With periodontitis, cats can actually start to lose teeth, as the gums and bone become weakened by dangerous bacteria.
Some cats also experience tooth resorption — when the tooth starts to break down from the inside out. This usually results in the loss of teeth.
All of these dental diseases are dangerous, and they can seriously impact your cat’s quality of life.
Veterinarians do necessary dental checkups during routine visits, so it’s crucial that you take your cat for yearly visits. If your cat is showing obvious signs of dental problems, your vet may recommend that your cat has a thorough dental checkup with a pet dentist who can perform x-rays and even pull teeth if need be.
Pet dentists can undoubtedly cure your cat of dental pain and teeth issues, but it’s always best to be proactive in your approach to your cat’s oral health. Don’t wait for a problem to arise. Instead, develop a dental routine now.
Signs Your Cat Needs Dental Care
Your cat does not need to exhibit signs of dental issues to begin a dental routine. It’s much better to tend to their teeth early on before any problems arise.
However, there are some telltale signs that your cat is suffering from dental issues.
Bad breath is perhaps the most obvious indicator of poor dental health. The next time your cat nuzzles and rubs your face with their face, pay close attention to the breath. If it’s stinky, they need better oral care!
Does your cat snub their nose at dry, brown kibble? If your cat only eats soft, wet food, it might not just be that they have a finicky appetite. It could be a sign that eating dry food is painful because their gums are sore.
The next time you brush your cat or give him face rubs, pull back on his mouth a little bit to expose his gums. If the gums are red, bleeding, or swollen, they need dental attention.
Unusual drooling is another sign that your cat may be having issues with its gums and teeth.
Poor oral health can lead to all sorts of other health problems. If you detect any of these issues with your cat, take them to see the vet and begin a dental cleaning routine immediately!
Brush Their Teeth
For some pet owners, the thought of brushing a cat’s teeth may seem like an impossible feat. And you’re not wrong — some cats won’t tolerate it.
But if you can get your furry friend used to daily tooth brushing, they’ll be better for it.
To brush your cat’s teeth, you’ll need four things: a cat toothbrush, cat-approved toothpaste, some treats and a whole lot of patience.
Human toothpaste is not safe for cats, so before you start on a daily brushing routine, you’ll need to buy a cat toothbrush or finger brush and some kitty toothpaste.
The Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Cat Kit is an excellent option for first-time cat brushers. This set comes with a finger brush and a tartar control toothpaste with a poultry flavor. It’s ideal for beginners (both cats and humans) as the finger brush features soft bristles that make it easy for cats to tolerate.
Cat Teeth Brushing Requires Some Patient Training
It usually takes some time for cats to get used to tooth brushing, so start by introducing your kitty to the smell of the toothpaste. During the first week, put some on your finger and let them sniff it or lick it off. When they do, give them a treat as a reward, so they associate eating the toothpaste as a positive behavior.
Once they’re used to the smell, you’ll need to get them accustomed to the taste. During the second week of training, put a little dab of toothpaste on one tooth or near their mouth so they can lick it off. When they do, reward them with a treat.
The next step is to get them comfortable with the toothbrush. If they’ve grown to like the taste of the toothpaste, put a bit of paste on the toothbrush and let them lick it off. Some cats may take to this sooner than others. For some kitties, this will be week three of training.
Once you’ve hit week four in the process, it’s time to start brushing their teeth! Your vet can show you how to do so, and there are plenty of online tutorials if you want to teach yourself.
The key thing to remember is that a cat’s tongue naturally cleans the back of their teeth. When you adopt a tooth brushing routine, you only have to worry about cleaning the front!
Give Your Cat an Oral Hygiene Supplement
Can’t imagine your cat sitting still long enough to have their teeth brushed? Don’t worry — there are some other, easier things you can do to put your kitty on a path to good oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene gels, powder supplements and dental hygiene water additives are all great ways to protect your kitty against bacteria growth and plaque buildup. Here are a few products that are super easy to use and quite effective at keeping your cat’s mouth healthy and clean.
This dental gel doesn’t require any brushing. Just rub it on your cat’s gums twice a day, preferably after meals. It protects their mouth from dryness, dissolves plaque and reduces odorous bacteria (perfect for curing bad kitty breath!)
You can help your cat fight periodontal disease just by adding a few drops of this solution into their water bowl. This formula contains Oxygene and zinc acetate to clean your pet’s teeth and gums and prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.
It doesn’t have any smell or taste, so even your most finicky kitty won’t know they’re drinking it.
Sprinkle a bit of this powder onto their wet or dry food, and your kitty won’t even know that they’ve adopted a daily dental routine!
This supplement is made from seaweed and has a 100% natural formula that prevents tartar and plaque buildup. It’s sugar-free and gluten-free, making it a good option for cats with special dietary needs and concerns.
Reward Kitty With Dental Cat Treats
You can trick your cat into having a dental routine just by feeding them dental cat treats designed to prevent plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth. These little treats also help to improve bad breath. A week or two of these and you’ll definitely smell the difference!
These feline Greenies contain all sorts of natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals to reduce tartar buildup and create fresh breath. An adult cat over 10 pounds can get two servings of eight per day, making them an excellent option for the kitty who loves to be rewarded (even when they don’t deserve to be).
Crunchy with a salmon flavor that cats love, these dental treats help clean teeth and reduce tartar buildup with a formula composed of calcium and taurine. They’re more rigid and more porous than most chewy cat treats, forcing your cat to use all sides of their teeth (and thus cleaning all sides of their teeth).
Feed Them the Right Food
There are so many different types of cat food on the market that it can be hard finding the one that’s just right for your kitty. From hairball control to weight control, cat food can get pretty complicated. But with all of those varieties come some excellent options — including options designed for the cat who needs some serious dental care.
Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is key to maintaining good oral hygiene. Here are three great dental-focused food options for your adult cat:
This dry food is specially formulated to control bacteria, plaque and tartar buildup. It also helps to clean the tooth’s surface, minimizing stains and fighting against bad breath. This is a prescription food, so you’ll need your vet to authorize the purchase.
Hill’s Science Diet is known for making healthy, nutritious cat food, including this formula designed specifically for cats in need of dental care. It reduces plaque and tartar buildup, freshens breath and includes antioxidants plus vitamins to give your kitty a healthier immune system.
This dry food blend also requires a veterinarian’s authorization, and it’s full of antioxidant-rich ingredients and proteins. It’s made to reduce tartar and plaque buildup and has a unique crunchy texture that cats absolutely love!
Your cat’s dental health all starts with what you feed them. If they’re resistant to brushing or don’t take well to dental treats or gels, it may be time to switch their food to one that’s designed specifically to improve their oral health.
As with any food, medication or supplement, always consult with your veterinarian to make sure you’re feeding your cat products that are safe for them.
Do You Need a Dental Routine for Your Cat?
Just like humans, all cats should have a daily dental routine. Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to train your cat to brush their own teeth.
As a pet owner, you’ll need to put your own cat dental care routine in place and work with your pet to maintain excellent oral care. Without proper dental care, your cat’s overall well-being will suffer.
Don’t let your kitty suffer from bad breath, mouth pain, inflamed gums or toothaches. Start brushing their teeth, giving them dental treats or adding supplements to their food and water. The sooner you start, the happier and healthier that cute kitty of yours will be!
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The 9 best products for your cat’s dental routine:
- Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Cat Kit
- Oratene Brushless Enzymatic Oral Care Therapy Dental Gel
- Oxyfresh Oral Hygiene Solution
- ProDen PlaqueOff Powder Supplement
- Greenies Feline Catnip Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats
- DentaLife Savory Salmon Flavor Dental Cat Treat
- Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dry Cat Food
- Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets D.H. Dental Health Formula Dry Cat Food