Tips For Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth
Brushing your cat’s teeth is the most effective way of avoiding dental disease which can lead to further complications, such as heart disease and kidney disease. By brushing your cat’s teeth, tartar and plaque formation are reduced while at the same time, promoting healthy gums and reducing bad breath.
In general, it is easier for kittens to become accustomed to a new routine, such as a dental routine. Although that’s not to say that older cats can’t be persuaded too. Although kittens are likely going to be easier to “train”, kittens do not require their milk teeth to be brushed but getting them used to having their teeth touched will help you and them in the long run when it is time to start brushing.
The process of getting your cat used to having his/her teeth brushed will be a gradual one. Even more so for older cats as they will take longer, in general, to become accustomed to the new routine. Your goal however is to be able to eventually brush your cat’s teeth once, maybe twice daily.
You Will Need:
- A Toothbrush designed for cats, such as the MIND UP Toothbrush. Have a separate toothbrush for each cat incase of cross-infection from saliva.
- Toothpaste designed for cats. DO NOT use toothpaste designed for humans as this can cause serious problems. You can get them in various flavours so hopefully even the fussiest of cat’s will find something he/she likes.
How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
- Start by offering a small amount of cat toothpaste from the tip of your finger to build up your cat’s trust over a few days. If your cat isn’t initially keen on this idea, you can also try placing a small amount on his/her nose for them to lick off.
- When your cat is used to this, you can then try just touching your cat’s teeth with the toothbrush without any toothpaste on.
3. Ask your vet/vet nurse how to brush your cat’s teeth correctly. It is useful to spend a few days just practicing how to hold your cat’s head which the vet nurse will teach you. Make sure to remember to reward your cat! Choose a time in the day when you and your cat are feeling calm and comfortable and aim for the same time each day.
Remember – There’s no rush. Take as much time as is needed for your cat to completely trust you, the toothbrush and the toothpaste. It is better to slowly acclimatise your cat to the dental routine by repeatedly touching their mouth and head than to restrain them which will ultimately end up more stressful for both of you.
Make sure to have your cats back to you when you brush their teeth or open their mouth as this is less confrontational to the cat. It also stops them from backing away.
4. Only when your cat is completely comfortable with all of the above can you start to brush with toothpaste. Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle to reach both the tooth surface and just below the gum margin. Move the toothbrush in small circular motions starting at the back of the mouth. When starting out, only brush for 10 seconds or so each side before rewarding them. You can then gradually increase this to 30-45 seconds each side.
There are products available to help clean your cat’s teeth without using a toothbrush, such as treats, dry food, and toys, but these should be used as more an aid to building up to brushing a cat’s teeth as they aren’t as effective.